Sunday on Face the Nation: Striking Syria

The conventional wisdom in Washington says that military action against Syria is imminent. But what is still unclear, and has become increasingly muddled, is just how much international support there is for a U.S.-led strike. And what any strike would accomplish. The president himself has said that any action, reportedly involving firing cruise missiles from U.S. destroyers in the region at Syrian military targets, would not aim to tackle the Assad regime, but merely to punish. Some worry such a move could have limited effect if not backfire leading to more attacks on civilians from the regime.

Though world leaders from all political stripes swiftly condemned last week's apparent chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of civilians near Damascus, efforts by President Obama to build a broad coalition for a military response have stalled, and public support for a strike on Syria is lagging.

The most recent blow to the Obama administration came late Thursday, from London, where the British House of Commons narrowly rejected a proposal to authorize the use of force in Syria. Britain, a key ally that committed troops to U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, might actually sit this one out.

The stunning Parliament vote has many in Washington wondering if a similar measure could survive in Congress. Senior Obama administration officials briefed key members of Congress on Thursday about the rationale for launching a small-scale air assault on Syrian government and military targets. But many in and out of government question what effect any strike would have, while others are convinced the US has to do something to punish the Syrian regime over the suspected use of chemical weapons.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will be on the show this Sunday. McCain serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and was one of the first lawmakers to call for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. He's been a leading critic of Obama's handling of Syria and will surely have a lot to say on Sunday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, participated in the briefing with the White House and will appear Sunday to talk what he heard and the legal basis for a strike.

Chambliss has said he supports a "serious" response against Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Also on the show will be Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Kaine condemned the apparent chemical attack with a strongly-worded statement but also made it clear that he wants Obama to seek approval from Congress before ordering any military action.

Finally, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies will join us additional perspective.

Be sure to tune in to "Face The Nation" this Sunday for all this and much more. Check your local listings.


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