HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The director of USM's Center for the Study of War and Society said if the U.S. strikes Syria as punishment for using chemical weapons against rebels, it risks becoming involved in a bloody and expensive conflict. Dr. Andrew Wiest said a military response could even lead to greater violence in the region, at least in the short term.
U.S. intelligence officials are convinced the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against rebel forces last week, and are building a case for military action without using ground forces. Missile strikes could come in the next couple of days, U.S. officials said.
Wiest said intervention is a risky move, which could involve the U.S. in that country for years to come.
"It's been kind of a common thing throughout American history to intervene in situations like this, but rarely does it clearly and quickly make the situation better," Wiest said. "There's often something called, 'mission creep'...you begin and then, you can't stop beginning. You're going to keep on. You're going to get in a little further, get in a little further. You begin to take some kind of moral ownership over the situation in that country," he said.
Wiest said the best case scenario for U.S. intervention is to make sure that other Middle Eastern countries are supporting us.
Meanwhile, two members of Congress from the Magnolia State are reacting to the potential for military strikes in Syria. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said he favors a military response, while Rep. Steven Palazzo (R- 4th Dist.) said he needs more information before he'll support it.
"I support it and as a matter of fact, I've been calling for the administration for the last two years to do what we could to help the moderate rebels to keep the radicals out of the opposition there and to overthrow Bashir Al Assad," Wicker said.
"I do not see a win in this situation, but when you start gassing and hurting women and children, we can't sit by idly and wait," said Palazzo. "But the thing is, we've got to have a clear strategy and this president needs to communicate to Congress, he needs to communicate to the American people. Let's do what we have to do to secure the innocent civilians and then, let's work on this long-term Middle-Eastern strategy," he said.
Both Wicker and Palazzo were in Hattiesburg Tuesday night, attending a 3rd annual scholarship dinner for William Carey University.