A front page article in today’s NY Times argues that it would be practically impossible to verify that Syria had destroyed or removed all of its chemical weapons, even supposing that it agreed to do so. Assuming that this is correct, it is entirely irrelevant. If there is any legitimate purpose for the U.S. threat to attack Syria, it could only be to deter future chemical attacks, not to force the removal of weapons that have been there for decades.
Let’s hope that the Obama administration, despite its astounding incompetence on the Syria issue, can at least figure this out—and steer clear of threatening military action if a Syrian agreement to dismantle its chemical weapons can't be verified. The issue is—or should be so regarded—the use of chemical weapons, not their existence. Thus, so long as the weapons are not actually used again, Obama can declare victory and dig the U.S. out of the trap he gratuitously created.
The next—and far more important step—is to start educating Obama on the folly of his refusal to adopt a policy of containment and deterrence of Iran, should it develop and deploy nuclear weapons in the future--as opposed to his present and oft-reiterated threat to attack Iran to prevent if from going nuclear in the first place. If he doesn’t start walking back from that threat, there is the possibility that he could face the same problem with Iran that he now has with Syria: no matter how foolish and reckless the threat of “preventive” war, no matter how dire the probable consequences, should Iran ignore the threat and proceed to deploy nuclear weapons, U.S. or maybe just Obama’s “credibility” would be at stake.
And in such circumstances, Obama might just plunge the country into a far more dangerous war than would be likely to result from a limited attack on Syria.