Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander from 2009 to 2013, urged President Obama to seek NATO’s assistance in a potential strike on Syria as the president also seeks Congressional authorization.
Stavridis wrote an editorial in the New York Times Monday in which he outlined the importance of having NATO support for the campaigns in Libya and Bosnia — more than just “moral support.”
President Obama surprised many when he announced Saturday that he would seek authorization from Congress for a potential strike on Syria.
The debates in Congress started Monday when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., visited the White House and then Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing where Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey all testified. The defense and state leaders continued the drill Wednesday with a closed Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and an open hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled for noon.
Stavridis said Dempsey and other U.S. military leaders should have the same debates with their counterparts in NATO. France has stepped forward in pledging their support for a strike. However, the British set back potential NATO support by voting against any military intervention.
Others argue that NATO should not support a Syrian strike without authorization from the United Nations Security Council. Stavridis cited the conflict in Kosovo as an example where NATO could still act even with out authorization from the Security Council.
He said comparing Syria to Libya is too easy. And instead the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo serve as comparisons. Stavridis acknowledged that NATO’s support of military action in Kosovo was controversial.
“But the outcome has been generally good, with NATO more secure, the region more or less at peace and an independent Kosovo now recognized by almost 100 nations,” the retired admiral said.
Stavridis said the U.S. has more support in Brussels than it might think and there’s still the potential for NATO resolution. However, the U.S. must push for it and take advantage of the benefit of more wide ranging international support.
“President Obama should make a hard push for NATO involvement, much as he is doing with Congress. The arguments are the same, and American influence remains strong in Brussels, where NATO is based,” Stavridis wrote.