May 21 2013
photo by Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki/U.S. Marine Corps
This commentary appeared on GlobalSecurity.org on May 21, 2013.
As Daddy Warbucks once observed, “You always have to skin your own skunks.” Perhaps this insight is particularly appropriate if the United States adopts the elimination of chemical weapons as a goal for involvement in Syria.
First of all, neither side of the Syrian conflict has committed to elimination of chemical weapons. If the United States chooses to intervene militarily to stop chemical weapon use, it should recognize from the start that it has limited ability to destroy chemical munitions through strikes even if it has the ability to destroy Syrian forces. Large chemical weapon stocks will survive even a sustained bombing campaign.