Home » International Relations » More Chemical Attacks in Syria Highlight Costs of Inaction

More Chemical Attacks in Syria Highlight Costs of Inaction

While I recognize that the situation in Syria is terrible, my response to a Hungarian critic of the Obama Administration’s policy was to point out that fifty years ago, a conflict in such a critical part of the world, with foreign provocateurs such as Putin stirring the pot, would have led to a world war.

The Obama Administration has not done nothing. It has pursued a disciplined policy of containment that has limited the spread of the disease to Turkey, Israel, Iran, Europe and Africa. That is nothing to sneer at. Has it prevented the destruction of Syria? No, but you see similar consequences in Venezuela, for example. A government predisposed to destroy a country can’t be prevented from doing so, at least so long as leaders choose to settle every disagreement by pointing a gun at the opposition.


The use of chemical weapons continues in Syria, as the international norm against their use crumbles through a lack of enforcement:

For the third time in just two weeks, chemical weapons were reportedly used against civilians in northern Syria. The United Nations is investigating the most recent case, which came Wednesday when barrel bombs thought to contain chlorine gas dropped on the rebel-controlled neighborhood of Zubdiya in eastern Aleppo, killing at least four people, including a mother and her two children, and wounding around 60 more.

Both the Assad regime and opposition forces have denied responsibility, but several witnesses and monitoring groups have said that helicopters dropped explosive barrel bombs on the affected neighborhood. Opposition forces, it bears noting, do not have helicopters….

Chlorine gas is classified as a choking agent, and when inhaled, fills the lungs with liquid and can lead to asphyxiation. Using it in a weapon is banned…

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