Chemical Weapons

The Texas Senator's strange Harvard Law Review article embraces the cause of a microbiologist who tried to poison her friend.

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As inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons begin their inspections in Syria, they could find themselves on a collision course with the United Nations Security Council resolution that put them there in the first place.

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This Syria Resolution Is As Good As It Gets

And we won't get another one

On Friday night, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted into being a resolution they floated 24 hours earlier to great acclaim. The resolution, number 2118, was hammered out over the last two weeks by the Russians and the Americans, and is supposed to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control and, ultimately, to destroy them. 

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Comrades, we have lost. The only achievement of the Obama administration in the Syrian crisis so far has been to eliminate the humanitarian motive from American foreign policy. We have lost. After Syria, the argument about rescue and responsibility, about the uses of American power, will have to begin again. For Assad’s gassing of children has been a dazzling career move. His most recent, and most brazen, use of chemical weapons has not imperiled him. Quite the contrary. The dead of Ghouta have saved him.

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Eager to forestall a U.S. intervention, Bashar al-Assad has agreed to relinquish his stockpile of chemical weapons—a stockpile that, until this week, he denied even possessing. But Syria's president continues to deny—as he did in a recent interview with Charlie Rose—that he used such weapons on civilians in an Aug.

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On August 24, conservative (sorta) author and defense-policy wise man Edward Luttwak published an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the optimal U.S. strategy for the Syrian civil war is to let all the parties to the conflict continue to bleed each other.

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The room in Damascus is clean, neat, symmetrical. The table has almost the exact circumference as a circle that it stands on in the regionally inflected rug. The skinny dictator, the precise eye surgeon who didn’t like the site of blood, sits straight, pointing with erect fingers. All that’s off is the rumpled American Southerner questioning him. But Charlie Rose came ready. He did not appear as he frequently does on his late-night show—a sometimes soothing, sometimes baffling mix of docile and self-aggrandizing. He asked tough questions, and he let Syrian President Bashar Assad respond.

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Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack on his own people last month provoked President Barack Obama's use-of-force resolution in Congress, but if the United States should strike Syria, its goal probably will not be to blow up lots of chemical agent (a self-evidently hazardous proposition) or even to focus on facilities related to such weapons.

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Given that the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons—or perhaps its latest use of chemical weapons—has been the particular atrocity that is likely going to lead the United States to war, the logic behind this rationale is worth exploring. My friend and colleague John Judis, in a piece titled "Obama's Biggest Gamble," explains the risks of President Barack Obama's decision to seek congressional authorization. He concludes by writing: 

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In a post for The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argues that the insularity of Washington commentators has made a war with Syria increasingly likely, or perhaps inevitable.

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