The Realist Prism: Specter of WMD Changes Debate on Syria Crisis

The Realist Prism: Specter of WMD Changes Debate on Syria Crisis

Last week, after the United Nations Security Council again deadlocked on the Syrian issue, calls were heard for Western and Middle Eastern powers to pursue a Kosovo-style intervention that would bypass the council altogether to bring about regime change in Damascus. At the beginning of this week, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdissi, declared that while the Syrian government would never unleash its previously unconfirmed stockpiles of chemical weapons to suppress the rebellion, it might use them in the event that “Syria faces external aggression.”

Just as Syria’s downing of a Turkish RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft in late-June followed weeks of casual comments about a Libya-style air campaign to aid anti-regime forces, the timing of this latest announcement cannot be accidental. Damascus is once again signaling to the West that Syria will be a harder nut to crack than Libya. And while Makdissi and other government officials tried to walk back his comments in the days that followed, when it comes to the Syria crisis, the WMD issue is now squarely on the table.

Leaving aside the separate issue of whether the Syrian WMD program has been underestimated or exaggerated and assuming that the Syrian regime does have the ability to produce and deliver some nasty weapons throughout the region -- including targets in Israel and Turkey -- then how the Syrian crisis is handled in the coming weeks could, in turn, have major repercussions for the international system as a whole.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review