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As Dempsey Nomination Advances, McCain’s Hold on Joint Chiefs Stirs Larger Debate

As Gen. Martin E. Dempsey nomination to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for two more years advanced, by voice vote, through the Senate Armed Services Committee, Roll Call’s Don Wolfensberger writes that “it is ironic that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., two days after he brokered the compromise on filibusters of executive nominations to avert the “nuclear option,” threatened to hold up the nomination of Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. McCain was angered that Dempsey, during his public confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, refused to offer his personal opinion on what to do about Syria.”

Wolfensberger provides a clear analysis of Dempsey and McCain’s review of possible actions the US could take around Syria, including Dempsey’s letter to the committee outlining five possible options and their costs. The options include training, advising and assisting the opposition; conducting limited standoff strikes; enforcing a no-fly zone; establishing buffer zones; and controlling chemical weapons. Writes Wolfensberger: “Put bluntly, they all carry risks and high costs — some up to $1 billion a month.”