The Obama administration hardened its stance against Syria and stepped up plans for possible military action, dismissing as too late the regime's offer to let United Nations officials inspect areas where the U.S. believes Damascus used chemical weapons last week.As always, I wish we'd intervened two years ago. I don't expect any good outcome at this point.
The White House and Pentagon signaled the U.S. wasn't backing away from a possible showdown despite apparent efforts by the Syrian government to ease tensions by letting U.N. inspectors visit areas near the capital where hundreds were killed, allegedly by chemical weapons.
If he decides to act militarily, Mr. Obama would prefer to do so with U.N. Security Council backing, but officials said he could decide to work instead with international partners such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the Arab League.
"We'll consult with the U.N. They're an important avenue. But they're not the only avenue," a senior administration official said.
In recent days, the Pentagon has moved more warships into place in the eastern Mediterranean and U.S. war planners have updated military options that include cruise-missile strikes on regime targets, officials said. The White House held high-level meetings over the weekend, but officials said late Sunday that Mr. Obama had yet to decide how to proceed.
The U.S. had urged the Syrians to let U.N. inspectors visit the areas that were bombarded on Wednesday in suspected chemical attacks that opposition groups said killed more than 1,000 people. But the U.S. concluded that evidence at the scene has since been compromised due to continued Syrian shelling and the likely dissipation of any poison gases.
More on that at Israel Matzav, "Too late for Obama to act on Syria."
And see strategist Edward Luttwak, at the New York Times, "In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins."
EXTRA: At Reuters, "As Syria war escalates, Americans cool to U.S. intervention: Reuters/Ipsos poll" (at Memeorandum).