Dempsey: Syria No-Fly Zone Is an Act of War!
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey is continuing his push-back against those who demand U.S. military intervention in Syria. During a press briefing this afternoon with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Dempsey said that, if asked, the U.S. military could establish a no-fly zone over Syria, though it would be difficult, because Syria has a dense and sophisticated air defense system. Furthermore, stopping the Syrian air force from flying only addresses about 10 percent of the problem.
“And if we choose to — to conduct a no-fly zone, it’s essentially an act of war, and I’d like to understand the plan to make peace before we start a war,” he said. Dempsey’s comments came after both he and Hagel expressed nominal support for President Obama’s decision to arm some of the Syrian opposition groups, though neither of them seemed all that enthusiastic about the idea.
Earlier, this week, Dempsey described the situation in Syria as a “ten-year problem” during an interview with Washington radio station WTOP. In particular, he took a swipe at those who claim that grounding the Syrian air force, dropping a few bombs here and there, and creating safe havens for the opposition will somehow magically end the crisis by forcing Assad out of power.
“The conflict has been somewhat hijacked by extremists on both sides — Lebanese Hezbollah on the Shia side or on the regime side and elements of al Qaida on the Sunni side. It’s a conflict or a challenge that stretches from Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad,” he said. “The suffering is absolutely atrocious and tragic at the same time.” But, it won’t be ended quickly. “The internal factors contributing to the conflict are very deep-seated and enduring, and so my personal judgment is that we’re looking at a— probably a ten-year challenge. This is not something that is going to be solved overnight, no matter what anyone does.”