12 December 2013

Understanding Syria (3): Chemical Weapons

The purpose of this post is to alert readers to the 3rd part of historian William R. Polk's study entitled, Understanding Syria. Parts 1 & 2 can be found at these links:  Understanding Syria and Appendix A: The Intellectual and Political Foundations of 21st Century Jihad.  

Part 3, can be downloaded  in PDF format and is entitled Appendix B: Chemical Weapons.  

This latest essay is an excellent short description of chemical weapons, a history of their use since WWI, and it lays out an analysis of the question of whether or not President Assad used them against his own people.  He also examines the grand strategic implications of President Putin's intervention, which effectively put a stop to an American intervention, opened the door to greater Russian involvement in the region, and may have changed the strategic dynamic in the Middle East, particularly from the perspective of Israel.   

Polk's argument in this essay is also an excellent bookend to Seymour Hersh's' explosive report in the London Review of Books, which I discussed in The Syrian Guns of August (Counterpunch, Dec 10, 2013).