Dr. Trevor Thrall, GMU Biodefense Director, reviewed the latest developments in the ongoing Syrian saga yesterday in a piece in the National Interest. In it, he discusses the implications of the recent compromise proposal and potential US responses. Here’s an excerpt:
“The apparently accidental diplomatic overture from Secretary of State John Kerry, suggesting that Syria transfer its chemical weapons to international control to avoid U.S. airstrikes, has immediately received traction. How seriously either the U.S. or Syria will consider this proposal remains unknown. On the one hand, it is easy to argue that Syria will simply latch on to the proposal as a tactic to forestall U.S. action but has no intention of agreeing to give up its weapons. On the other hand, Syria needs Russian support more than it needs chemical weapons, and Assad may calculate that his chances against the rebels are better if the U.S. does not get directly involved militarily.
From the U.S. perspective the proposal has immediate political impact. Obama cannot strike Syria when his primary justification is in such serious question. There may be other reasons for the U.S. to engage in Syria directly, but the White House’s own PR campaign has emphasized the danger of Syria’s chemical weapons and the potential for them to wind up in the wrong hands. If Syria tells the world they are willing to consider giving them up, Obama’s argument crumbles and he cannot take action until the issue is resolved one way or another.
Ironically, for the U.S. this would be a far better outcome than Obama had any right to imagine just days ago. Having foolishly drawn the red line in the first place, and then having made a complete mess of the campaign to build both public and Congressional support, Obama may now have found a path that both gives him a big win while avoiding either an ugly defeat in Congress or having to launch airstrikes of wildly uncertain consequence…”
Read the rest of the piece here.
(image: Freedom House)