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The Obama administration will release declassified intelligence Friday backing up a government assessment that the Syrian regime was responsible for a chemical weapons attack, a senior administration official said.
Diplomatic and political developments this week raised the chances of the United States going it alone in a military intervention in Syria. A U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria ended in deadlock, and in the U.S. Congress, doubts about military intervention are making the rounds.
Administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, briefed key lawmakers on the situation in a telephone conference Thursday night.
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was on that call. He said even after hearing the administration's stance, he opposes a strike on Syria. From a military standpoint, said Inhofe, the U.S. simply cannot afford it.
"We're in a position right now where we don't have the assets to get involved in another intervention," said Inhofe.
But in the run up to the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003, Inhofe, citing the threat of chemical weapons, supported what turned out to be a very expensive U.S. military intervention,
"We were a very healthy military at that time, we had the assets, we had the resources to go anywhere that we wanted to go, to do the things that we felt, in our minds, were right," said Inhofe. "That's not the situation today, this projected budget of the president is taking $487 billion out of the military, plus sequestration."
Beyond the potential costs, said Inhofe, there are also broad perspectives and repercussions of intervention. The U.S. cannot just strike once and end the problem.
"That's not the way it happens and I think we all understand that," said Inhofe. "We really need to hear from the president what his broad perspective is, his plan for the Middle East, and how his military intervention will be a part of it."