5 possible outcomes of a US strike against Syria

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A Syrian army soldier exits his tank
A Syrian army soldier exits his tank in the southwestern neighborhood of the Syrian city of Qusayr in May.
AFP/Getty Images

As Congress debates whether military intervention in Syria is a necessary step to take for its suspected use of chemical weapons, many questions have been left unanswered concerning what will happen after the attack.

On The Daily Circuit, we look at possible outcomes of a US military intervention in Syria and discuss which, if any, of these outcomes are preferable.


1. The strikes stop Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons in the future

"What the Obama administration appears to want is a limited, finite series of strikes that will be carefully calibrated to send a message and cause the just-right amount of pain," writes Max Fisher in The Washington Post. "It wants to set Assad back but it doesn't want to cause death and mayhem. So the most likely option is probably to destroy a bunch of government or military infrastructure -- much of which will probably be empty."

2. Retaliation against the United States from Syria

Assad spoke to "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose in his first television interview since Obama asked for congressional approval for the strikes:

3. It could draw United States into Syrian civil war

In The Washington Post, Ernesto Londono and Ed O'Keefe compared the possible strike to the 1998 cruise missile strikes on targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan:

"The one thing we should learn is you can't get a little bit pregnant," said retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was at the helm of U.S. Central Command when the Pentagon launched cruise missiles at suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan and weapons facilities in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. "If you do a one-and-done and say you're going to repeat it if unacceptable things happen, you might find these people keep doing unacceptable things. It will suck you in."

4. A response from Syria's allies

Any American attack could lead to military response from Russia or Iran, reports Radio Free Europe:

Barry Pavel, who was senior director for defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council under Obama and former President George W. Bush and is now at the Atlantic Council says those worries are now irrelevant. "Let's be truthful here: we're in a proxy war," he says.

"And one of the reasons that the administration said, in July 2011 -- when there was some pressure to intervene -- one of the reasons they used to not intervene was that they didn't want to overmilitarize the conflict and get others to increase the flow of military equipment and advisers to Syria," he continues. "Well, that's happened already. It's been happening for two years. Iran is all in. Russia is in to a degree."

5. Retaliation against Israel

"The nightmare scenario is that Assad will respond by launching chemical weapons into Israel or another neighbor," says Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now with the American Enterprise Institute, in an interview with CNN. "After all, if he hasn't batted an eye at gassing sleeping Syrians, why worry about killing Turks, Jordanians, or Lebanese?"

Want to learn more about the Syrian conflict? Check out The Washington Post's '9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask.'