While the U.S. appears poised for missile strikes against Syria as early as Thursday in response to the Assad regime's August 21 chemical weapons attacks near Damascus, clarity of mission remains an issue for Obama.
The White House is obliged to act in some way on Syria's unequivocal crossing of the so-called 'red line'. But beyond that the goals of the anticipated campaign are murky. According to the administration, the action will "deter and degrade" Assad without striving for a regime change. Others raise questions about the real effect of taking any military action at all, if it's something the Assad regime can survive.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been a leading voice on taking action against Syria, has stopped short of U.S.-led regime change in Syria, but has called for purposeful U.S. force that includes arming the Syrian resistance.
"Is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?" McCain asked Tuesday.