If you have not been paying attention, the last thing you heard was that Syria had used sarin gas attack on civilians in 2013. President Obama’s “red line” was washed pink in an agreement with Russia to remove the weapons and destroy them at sea. The U.N. Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) special coordinator Sigrid Kaang, in a remarkably precise statement, said 96% percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons were destroyed. Not 95% or 87% or 43.5%, but 96% on the nose. Secretary of State Kerry said: “In record time, even amid a civil war, we removed and have now destroyed the most dangerous chemicals in the regime’s declared stockpiles.”
It was good PR, but as a solution to a deadly violation of international law, it was a huge, gaping failure. The word “declared” is the giveaway — Syria was allowed to tell inspectors what it had and where, and the inspectors were allowed only to touch those sites. It you think they cheated, you are right.
This week, the Israel Air Force destroyed a “research center” in Syria, one that “researched” chemical weapons. The attack came the morning after U.N. investigators said the Syrian government was responsible for a sarin gas attack in April 2017. Israel has conducted approximately 100 strikes inside Syria in the six years of civil war, not to change the course of battle or support one side over the other, but to eliminate weapons and facilities deemed unacceptable threats to Israel — including missile factories, a nuclear reactor and now a chemical weapons factory.
Here is the lesson. Focus on the real regional threats and push off peripheral issues.
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