by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama may stretch out efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis in a bid to buy time, experts said.
In recent weeks, Obama has been on a public relations blitz to drum up support for a limited strike on Syria after the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allegedly launched a chemical weapons attack, which Obama said would amount to crossing a "red line" that would trigger U.S. military action.
But with no plan B in place if the Russian-proposed deal to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control fails, and lackluster Congressional and public support for a military strike, Obama has few options at the moment.
"The Obama administration is very eager to drag this diplomatic solution out as long as possible," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.
For now, the U.S. president must strike a difficult balance. On the one hand, not taking some sort of action after a year's worth of "red line" rhetoric would be a major blow to U.S. credibility worldwide.
But on the other hand, the U.S. faces getting sucked into another Middle East quagmire at a time when war-weary Americans do not want to engage in yet another conflict, analysts said.
In recent days, Syria indicated it would support the Russian-proposed plan in an effort to avert a U.S. attack, but some experts and officials have expressed reservations over the deal.
In what some analysts interpreted as placing conditions on the plan, Assad told Russian state television Thursday the U.S. would have to halt military threats against the embattled Syrian government.
At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Geneva on Thursday that there would be "immense technical challenges" in carrying out the plan, although he expressed cautious optimism.
He added that the U.S. military will remain on alert in a bid to keep up the pressure on Damascus.
Americans are evenly split over whether the plan to control Syria's chemical weapons will succeed, with 45 percent of Americans expressing optimism and 44 percent saying they were pessimistic about the plan, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.
David Lewis, a professor at Frostburg University in the U.S. state of Maryland who has studied presidential persuasion, told Xinhua he believes Obama will fail to get the Congressional go-ahead for military action.
Over the past 25 years, Congress has three times authorized the use of military force upon a president's request -- the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq -- but those presidents were reasonably confident that Congress would give them the nod.
In the current case, however, Obama unexpectedly announced his intentions to appeal to Congress, a risky move amid tepid support among lawmakers for a strike on the war-torn country, Lewis said.
"With public opinion running strongly against intervention, it appears that Congressional authorization is unlikely to occur," Lewis said.
Also unusual is that the president is calling for limited intervention. "The links between this limited intervention and the policy goals he wants to achieve are weak," Lewis said.
He added that the goals of past U.S. conflicts were more tangible, such as driving Iraqi troops out of Kuwait during the Gulf War and regime changes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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