Discouraging the Use of Chemical Weapons Should Be an End in Itself

Since regular munitions can kill just as effectively as chemical weapons, it is unlikely that deterring Bashar al-Assad from deploying the latter—as the airstrikes last month and the previous year were intended to do—will save many lives. For precisely this reason, argues Max Singer, preventing their use is a worthy and achievable goal:

It is possible to get the world to enforce moral values when it can do so without incurring large costs. In places like Syria, the world cannot stop the killing without a military force stronger than the local forces, and no country is willing to sacrifice its soldiers [to do so]. But the world can [enforce] the ban on chemical weapons by using only missile attacks from a distance.

There is no way the recent U.S.-British-French attack on Assad’s chemical-weapons facilities could have a major influence on the struggle for control of Syria or stop the killing of civilians. The purpose of the attack was . . . to make sure Assad and his successors understand that he loses more from his use of chemical weapons than he gains—which is certainly true.

The dictators of the world don’t use chemical weapons because they are cruel; they use them because they are a slightly easier and cheaper way to kill and frighten their enemies. But they have other ways of killing and frightening people. So if the example of what happened to Assad convinces them that they would lose more from international retaliation for using chemical weapons than they might gain from their use, they will not use them. Others might decide it is a mistake to build or buy such weapons in the first place. . . .

A world in which chemical weapons are not used is better than a world in which they are—even if there is only a small reduction in the number of people killed. Perhaps a world in which international agreements achieve some moral goals, even modest ones, is better than a world in which nations cannot succeed in enforcing any moral values at all.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Chemical weapons, International Law, Laws of war, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy