President Obama's address to the nation today included an explicit assurance against any escalation beyond targeted strikes that would punish the Assad regime for its chemical weapons use and deter and future use:
I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective, deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad’s capabilities.
Just a few paragraphs later, Obama addresses the threat of Syrian retaliation to an American strike:
We don’t dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. Any other -- any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise...
'Escalation that would lead to his demise' is clearly a reference to what the US would do if Syria used terrorist attacks or some other method to escalate the conflict after the US struck. To my mind, then, Obama has clearly signaled regime-ending military action against Syria just four paragraphs after assuring Americans that the US military commitment to Syria will not put America on 'a slippery slope to another war'. Can both things be true?