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John Kerry on proposed Syria attack: It’ll be ‘unbelievably small’

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By Doug Powers  •  September 9, 2013 11:53 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

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It’s on, Bashar!

In a rhetorical sense, the verbal build-up to a proposed attack on Syria has been the Mother of All Bombs. Secretary of State Kerry lit another fuse on that particular MOAB with the below statement. Let it never be said that Kerry is trying to sound over-intimidating:

“We’re not going to war,” Mr. Kerry told reporters Monday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London. “We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

If Kerry’s not careful, Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition will sue him for copyright infringement.

Kerry has also drawn his own red line, reportedly giving the Syrian leader one week to hand over his chemical weapons stash or face either a re-drawing of the red line or unbelievably small attack. If that doesn’t make Assad wet himself, nothing will.

What is the goal of the proposed strikes? The Obama administration seeks to hamper Assad’s ability to eat Cheerios, or something:

The strike, as envisioned, would be limited in the number of targets and done within a day or two. It could be completed in one fell swoop with missiles, said one senior official familiar with the weapons involved. A smaller, follow-on strike could be launched if targets aren’t sufficiently damaged.

A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.

I see — force him to take a fork to a spoon fight. That’s a goal not unlike General Eisenhower’s plan to limit Hitler’s ability to consume asparagus.

Overthinking that strategy, if you thought somebody was dangerous, why would you take away his spoon and replace it with a fork?

In any case, “The Cheerio Offensive” will be discussed in war colleges for centuries to come — mostly around breakfast time.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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