Tuesday, September 02, 2014

So Kerry Did Screw Up

The Kerry-Lavrov deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons and destroy their ability to produce them is surely a triumph of diplomacy, the adminstration insists. Syria may be horrible and ISIL the other problem from Hell, but we'll always have this WMD disarmament achievement. Not so fast.

Our ship finished destroying the chemical weapons and raw materials Syria turned over. But:

However, it added that: "serious questions remain with respect to the omissions and discrepancies in Syria's declaration to the OPCW and about continued allegations of use". It also called on Syria to destroy its remaining CW production facilities: a process that should have been completed in 2013. ...

The US reference to allegations of chemical weapons continuing to be used in Syria relate to reports of improvised chlorine bombs being dropped from helicopters on rebel-controlled areas. Over a dozen such incidents were reported in April, but few suspected chlorine attacks have occurred since then.

Huh. Syria may have more chemicals, has production facilities to make chemical weapons, and has used chlorine gas bombs (chlorine is not a declared banned chemical).

If I didn't know any better, I'd think this whole Kerry-Lavrov deal was just an effort to buy time for Assad to fight his enemies without worrying about us intervening against him.

UPDATE: More about Kerry's stunning diplomatic success:

The United States expressed concern on Thursday that Syria’s government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the internationally led operation to purge them over the past year, and that Islamist militant extremists now ensconced in that country could possibly seize control of them.

Sure, it's a problem that jihadis might grab some chemical weapons.

And there's also the problem that Assad might use chemical weapons for the sixth or seventh time, eh?

But let's not bring up uncomfortable failures of the president to enforce a red line on Assad. Or actually achieve the deal we boasted of getting rather than getting the deal that Assad and Lavrov got--preventing our intervention on the side of non-jihadi rebels in order to buy time for Assad to win his civil war.

While we got 96% of Assad's declared chemical weapons and raw materials, This is good, too:

But Ms. Kaag told reporters after the briefing that Syria had yet to address what she described as “some discrepancies or questions” about whether it had accounted for all of the chemical weapons in its arsenal.

I'm so old that I remember that asking a Baathist dictator about discrepencies or questions about his WMD was "lying us into a war."

Heck, I even remember when having raw materials to make WMD didn't count as WMD, justifying a war even on just that narrow reason.

"Smart" diplomacy, folks. This is what our administration thinks it looks like.