US may seek to 'militarize' Syria crisis
It's exactly what Russia and China hoped to avoid with their veto at the UN last weekend; the western powers flexing their military muscles again in the Middle East.
At the moment, diplomacy appears to be the preferred course. But the Obama administration is apparently seriously looking over its options in the event that the military is employed in some capacity to stop the slaughter in Syria.
The official from the State Department told The Daily Telegraph that while the White House wants to exhaust all its diplomatic options, the debate in Washington has shifted away from diplomacy and towards more robust action since Russia and China blocked a United Nations resolution condemning Syria.
The Pentagon's Central Command has begun a preliminary internal review of US military capabilities in the region, which one senior official called a "scoping exercise" that would provide options for the president if and when they were requested.
The White House said it was talking to allies about holding a "Friends of Syria" meeting in the near future and was considering delivering humanitarian aid to affected areas in the country.
"We are, of course, looking at humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and we have for some time. We're consulting with our international partners, and we anticipate this being one of the focuses of the discussions that we'll have," said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
Influential figures in Washington have recommended setting up a "humanitarian corridor" or safe haven, while others, such as Senator John McCain, have said it was time to consider arming the rebels of the Free Syrian Army.
The "corridor" idea was first advanced by Turkey weeks ago. It wouldn't solve much and leave those who are guarding the corridor wide open to Syrian army attacks. Clearly, a corridor would require massive air power to protect those who are keeping the corridor open.
Arming the Syria rebels would probably be a disaster. The last thing anyone wants in Syria is a full blown civil war and inviting the rebels to turn Syria's big cities into free fire zones, killing as many civilians as Assad.
This is a problem for the Arab League. If they request international assistance, then we can revisit the intervention scenario. Until then, it would seem prudent to plan for the worst and hope for the best.