Obama's riddle: How to strike Syria without spurring retaliation
"Anyone who claims to have a crystal ball here doesn't," warned Paul R. Pillar, a former senior CIA official with responsibilities in the Middle East. "This does stir the pot in ways that increase the risk or chance of certain things happening, even though one can't place specific odds on it or make a specific prediction."
"This ought to remind people that it is very unlikely that anything we do in a limited way is going to be limited in the way we prefer,'' said Pillar, who now teaches at Georgetown University, in the nation's capital.
Assad's most immediate way to punish American attacks could be to retaliate in a way that drives up oil prices, squeezing the already soft U.S. and European economies.
"There are some real vulnerabilities on Syria's border that hang in the balance,'' said Kilduff, noting a sympathetic bomber in Saudi Arabia could send oil prices soaring. "Any kind of perceived threat to the (Saudi) royal family is just going to raise the security premium mightily.''
If there is a strike, both Assad and Obama must calibrate their responses with an eye toward an end goal. For Assad, it's a basic one: outlasting the insurgents and surviving. For Obama, the matter is more complicated.
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