getting nervous

Pentagon Steps Up Syria Plans

Mustafa Karali/AP

A group of Free Syrian Army fighters carry a wounded comrade to cover in the town of Harem, Syria, Oct. 30, 2012. The phrases to describe some of the looming foreign policy challenges for U.S. President Barack Obama didn't even exist when he took the oath of office the first time: the Arab Spring, the Fordo Facility housing Iran's underground uranium enrichment labs, the stealth power of new viruses bearing names such as Stuxnet and Flame in the shadow world of cyber-sabotage.U.S. allies appear to be anticipating a new, bolder approach from Obama on Syria in his second term, but it remains to be seen if the U.S. plans to change course in any significant way in a conflict that has already claimed more than 36,000 lives since March 2011.

Is this our red line? The Pentagon is apparently ramping up preparation to deal with a possible collapse in Syria. Officials say the U.S. is writing plans to minimize direct involvement, but which include a buffer zone for refugees in Jordan. The main fear is that a spillover could create problems for the country and other American interests in the region. "The Syria message was loud and strong," a senior diplomat told The Wall Street Journal. "Everybody's scared. And nobody knows what the hell we are going to do there."