Martin Dempsey

Source: REUTERS

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, the highest-ranking American military officer

America’s top military officer told a Senate committee that the Obama administration is considering the use of military force in Syria, Richard Lardner of the Associated Press reports.

U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey testified that he has provided President Barack Obama withoptions for the use of force in Syria, including “kinetic strikes.”

The military is constantly laying out potential courses of action, but Dempsey’s comments signal at least a willingness to directly enter the conflict.

The issue “is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government,” the four-star general said, adding that  “it would be inappropriate for me to try to influence the decision with me rendering an opinion in public about what kind of force we should use.”

In March Dempsey implied military force would be a bad idea:  “I don’t think at this point I can see a military option that would create an understandable outcome. And until I do, it would be my advice to proceed cautiously.”

U.S. military options range from one-off missile strikes on infrastructure linked to chemical weapons, to funneling more weapons to rebels, to carving out no-fly zones, and even as far asputting 20,000 U.S. troops in Jordan for a ground invasion.

“Senator, I am in favor of building a moderate opposition and supporting it,” Dempsey said on Thursday. “The question whether to support it with direct kinetic strikes … is a decision for our elected officials, not for the senior military leader of the nation” (emphasis ours).

Also on the table are drone strikes targeting rebels linked to al-Qaeda, which indicates that America would actually be attacking the strongest elements on both sides of the conflict.

Consequently, all signs point to a quagmire as American goals would include attempting to arm only moderate rebels and marginalizing the opposition’s best forces while simultaneously attempting to topple Assad’s regime.

Meanwhile Assad  has  regained the upper hand  on the battlefield in the west of the country while j ihadists control much of the north and east.

“Assad is powerful now, not as a president who controls a state but as a warlord, as someone who has more and more sophisticated weapons than the others,” said  Hassan Hassan , a Syrian journalist at the Abu Dhabi-based English-language newspaper The National,  told The New York Times . “He is not capable of winning back the country.”

The scope of the conflict continues to get larger as Syria’s borders blur, which provides an opportunity for the radical rebels in Lebanon and northeastern Syria.

@ShamiWitness @charles_lister Right, and to me it blow doors open on the scope of conflict http://t.co/schThrCZza pic.twitter.com/4KWk5JUBRe

— Michael Kelley (@MichaelKelleyBI) July 18, 2013

Dempsey’s statements come days after the U.N. envoy to Iraq told the U.N. Security Council that the Syrian civil war and the escalating violence in neighboring Iraq can no longer be separated because “the battlefields are merging.”

The envoy, Martin Kobler, noted that the last four months have been among the bloodiest in Iraq in the last five years as nearly 3,000 people have been killed and more 7,000 injured.

“These countries are interrelated,” Kobler stressed. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world.”

The Iraqi government has backed Assad, but Sunni jihadists in Iraq’s western Anbar province have poured into Syria to fight with al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels.

Basically, the U.S. would be throwing their hat into a very messy ring.