As WaPo reports, meetings have been going on within US national security agencies for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo. A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday while a meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as early as this weekend.
As Reuters hinted last week, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a "means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way." Or, in other words, to cut to the chase and go right back to what the US was hoping to achieve in Syria in the first place: another regime change.
Among the options considered include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said. In other words, the warhawks in the administration are actively contemplating not only bypassing the White House, but flaunting the UN and launching a sovereign incursions, also known as a war, against Syria.
The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.
“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”
The good news is that, at least for now, not everyone involved in the discussion is a hawkish neocon. According to WaPo there’s still skepticism that the White House will approve military action. Other administration officials told The Post this week that Obama is no more willing to commit U.S. military force inside Syria than he was previously and that each of the military options being discussed have negative risks or consequences.