Now that the US has made up its mind once more and "knows" that Wednesday's chemical attack in Syria was conducted by the government and targeting the "rebels", even as the "developed" west calls for a UN investigation to determine just that, and as the US (including the CIA), Israel and Jordan have already sent an advance military force into Syria to conduct more false flag provocations and blame it on the regime, the only next step is to soften and prepare popular opinion for what comes next. And what comes next is on the front page of the WSJ this morning: "The U.S. began refining its military options for possible strikes in Syria, officials said... Officers at the Pentagon on Thursday were updating target lists for possible airstrikes on a range of Syrian government and military installations." Then again we have seen all this before. Surely, one of these times the administration will actually go ahead and push the button instead of just talking about it.
From the WSJ:
Officers at the Pentagon on Thursday were updating target lists for possible airstrikes on a range of Syrian government and military installations, officials said, as part of contingency planning should President Barack Obama decide to act after what experts said may be the worst chemical-weapons massacre in more than two decades.
As the Pentagon worked on its options, Secretary of State John Kerry talked by telephone with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and the foreign-policy chiefs of Turkey, Jordan and the European Union, as well as with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, officials said.
The US' strawman for an attack is simple: assume a false flag operation was conducted in Syria, then demand full compliance with the West's demands that it be given full investigation privileges to confirm it wasn't a false flag operation, and scream bloody murder if those privileges are not granted. A story as old as the last Iraq war in fact. But that doesn't mean it will stop any time soon.
The Syrian government denied allegations it gassed its own people, backed by new statements from regime allies Iran and Russia accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's international foes of conspiring against him. U.S. officials said they have seen "strong indications" that chemical weapons were used but that more work was needed to evaluate and collect evidence.
The regime gave no indication, however, that it would agree to Mr. Ban's plea to let U.N. inspectors investigate the chemical-weapons allegations, as Syrian forces pressed on with an offensive in the towns around the capital where the attacks were alleged to have occurred.
U.S. officials who described the military options being revised at the Pentagon stressed that their purpose wouldn't be to topple the regime, but to punish Mr. Assad if there is conclusive evidence that the government was behind poison-gas attacks on Wednesday.
And there you have it: over the next week, we fully expect to wake up to news that a US and Israeli-led fly-by has crippled several key Syrian military installations in "punishment" for a chemical attack that with virtual certainty was conducted not by the regime which knows it every action is observed by spy satellites, but by the Qatari mercenaries whose only job is precisely to topple the Assad regime so the much-delayed LNG pipeline can finally pass underneath Syria. Because if it wasn't for that, why on earth would Saudi Arabia grovel before Putin demanding just that?
Making its options known could constitute a U.S. warning to Mr. Assad and his backers. It was unclear if Mr. Obama would be prepared to use the options; he has resisted getting entangled militarily in the conflict since the start.
"Once we ascertain the facts, the president will make an informed decision about how to respond," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan. Mr. Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons by Mr. Assad would cross a key U.S. "red line" and possibly trigger a U.S. response.
U.S. military options include potential strikes on "regime targets," including Syrian government functions crucial to its war effort. In addition, options include strikes on Syrian military "delivery capabilities and systems" that are either used directly in attacks with poison gas or to facilitate them, from command-and-control facilities to front-line artillery batteries, officials said.
The far narrower options under review include airstrikes using so-called standoff weapons such as cruise missiles, and wouldn't require the U.S. to send fighters into Syrian airspace, officials said. Israel has carried out a series of airstrikes in Syria this year using similar types of standoff weaponry to avoid sending manned aircraft into Syrian territory.
Officials said these options are being fine-tuned by military officials so Mr. Obama can act in short order if a determination is made that Mr. Assad's forces carried out chemical attacks and if Mr. Obama chooses to respond with force.
Expect such "determination" to be made promptly leading to just such a "short order" action. At which point the only question is how proportionate will Russia (and China's) response be. Or, in other words, is Obama willing to risk world war just so Europe can get cheap Qatari natural gas.