Why the United States Can’t Lead on Syria’s Chemical Weapons Atrocities

The Progressive April 11, 2018:
Reasonable people can disagree about how the international community should respond to the latest apparent atrocity by the Syrian government involving chemical weapons. The repeated use of these horrific and illegal weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s repressive regime deserves a strong international response. Unfortunately, given its history of politicizing the issue, the United States is in no position to lead.
    Reasonable people can disagree about how the international community should respond to the latest apparent atrocity by the Syrian government involving chemical weapons. The repeated use of these horrific and illegal weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s repressive regime deserves a strong international response.
    Unfortunately, given its history of politicizing the issue, the United States is in no position to lead.
    The controversy over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles is not new. Both the Bush Administration and Congress, in the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, raised concerns over Syria’s refusal to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria’s failure to end its chemical weapons program prompted a large bipartisan majority to impose strict sanctions on that country.
    Syria argued that it was not the only country in the region that failed to sign the convention, nor even the first country to develop chemical weapons. Indeed, neither Israel nor Egypt, the world’s two largest recipients of U.S. military aid, is a party to the convention.
    Neither Congress nor any U.S. presidential administration of either party has ever called on Israel or Egypt to disarm their chemical weapons arsenals, much less threatened sanctions over failure to do so.