President Obama has asked Congress to consider his proposal to use military force against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, in response to the chemical weapons attack on August 21 that has reportedly left nearly 1,500 dead. Does the president’s proposal make sense—legally, strategically and morally? How important is it that Congress approve any action? What happens if there is a divided vote, with the Senate going one way and the House another? What kind of strike is most likely to occur? What are the chances of subsequent escalation, in the first instance by the Assad government or one of its regional allies, and thereafter by the United States and its partners? How can the U.S. strike Assad without inadvertently helping al Qaeda?
On September 5, Brookings scholars Michael Doran, Fiona Hill, Suzanne Maloney, Jeremy Shapiro and Bruce Riedel discussed the issue. Michael O’Hanlon, director of research for the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, moderated the discussion.