Got a Spare Billion and Two Years for a Syrian Disposal Plant?

by Jim Geraghty

A Campaign Spot reader in the military, familiar with chemical weapons disposal, writes in:

To be truly secure, the weapons have to be transported out of country or 
destroyed in Syria. Neither is an easy solution.

Moving them: To take them to another country, they have to be packaged for
 transport. The international standards for transport of chemical/biological
 weapons are extremely stringent and would be difficult to meet given the 
situation in Syria. Simply preparing them for transport will take a long 
time and it will be an extremely expensive proposition. Then, of course,
 there’s the security aspect of doing this in the midst of a civil war.

Destroying them: To destroy them in place would require building a disposal 
facility. Estimates to construct such a facility would easily be over $1 
billion and could be even twice that. It would also likely take a year or 
two to construct. On this option, once again, we have to consider security.
 How do you build such a facility in the middle of a conflict? ;Plus, for an
 additional degree of difficulty, you still have to transport the weapons 
from around Syria to the destruction facility.

 All in all, highly unlikely that any of this will go anywhere.

So if this is an idea that is highly unlikely to work, why is it being treated as a serious proposal in Damascus, Moscow, and Washington?

Because Bashir Assad doesn’t want the U.S. to bomb Syria. Vladimir Putin doesn’t want the U.S. to bomb Syria. President Obama isn’t sure if he wants the U.S. to bomb Syria. The U.S. Congress, for the most part, doesn’t want to bomb Syria. A solid majority of the American public doesn’t want to bomb Syria. And with the exception of France, most U.S. allies don’t want to join the U.S. in an effort to bomb Syria.

For most of the above groups, the reluctance to bomb Syria is stronger than the desire to punish Assad.

So, like in the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, everyone pretends to see something that isn’t there — a workable diplomatic solution.

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.