War drums are beating more loudly as the United States prepares a military strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad for allegedly conducting a chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb. According to several published news reports, it’ll feature a couple days’ worth of strikes from cruise missiles and long-range bombers timed to conclude before President Obama’s visit to the G20 Summit in Russia. The White House spokesman said regime change is not an objective, so rest easy, Bashar. Hunker down with a Sue Grafton book for a couple of days (S is for Survival) and ride out the storm.
The 78-day Kosovo air campaign, the precedent for the U.S. version of riskless war, featured more than 10,000 strike sorties, managed to significantly degrade Serb military capabilities (before they began hiding their armored vehicles and artillery in population centers) and forced them to a negotiated settlement.
Truman, a great strategic mind, wonders what a 48-hour campaign can accomplish. The risk – provoking actors such as Iran and Hezbollah – are no longer worth potential gains. With regime change not an objective and scant hope of making a difference in this two-year civil war, my wise dog asks, “What is it good for?”