Taking Away Assad’s Spoon and Giving Him a Fork
USA Today‘s Tom Vanden Brook (“Strike To ‘Degrade’ Syrian Forces Would Be Limited“) continues to suss out the details of the military action President Obama is working to convince the nation is necessary.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s choice of the term “degrade” to describe an attack on Syria has been interpreted by Pentagon planners as guidance for a limited strike, according to senior military officials.
The weapon of choice is the Tomahawk cruise missile aboard four Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. Though powerful, the missiles alone would likely not be capable of crippling Bashar Assad’s regime, which is accused of using chemical weapons. The targets selected for attack are meant to punish Assad, not swing the tide in favor of rebels seeking his ouster, said a senior officer familiar with the planning.
By far the most colorful explanation:
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.
Well, that’ll teach him to kill 100,000 of his own people.
Amusingly, the analogy for our counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, popularized by John Nagl, was trying to eat soup with a knife. So, modern American warfare is mostly about the cutlery. Presumably, if it ever comes to it, our action against Iran will involve a spork.