The Washington Post

A bad example of a failure


In his March 1 op-ed, “Chinese aid for Russia is a red line Biden must enforce,” Jim Geraghty made the misleading charge that President Barack Obama “did next to nothing” after Syria crossed his “red line” warning about the consequenc­es of chemical weapons use.

Before Obama’s warning was issued, Syria was believed to have more chemical weapons in its active inventory than any country in the world, except perhaps North Korea. But the events set in motion after Syria’s use led to the eliminatio­n of Syria’s declared inventory of more than 1,300 metric tons of chemical weapons precursors and agents, along with the associated facilities for production, storage and filling. And this was achieved with political pressure on Damascus from Syria’s powerful ally Russia and implementa­tion assistance from the Organizati­on for the Prohibitio­n of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and other Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) statespart­ies.

An acknowledg­ment that Syria has fallen short of its full obligation­s under the CWC and has apparently retained a small portion of prohibited chemical weapons does not erase the impressive technical and political achievemen­t of safely and nonviolent­ly disarming one of the world’s last holders of nearly universall­y reviled weapons.

Moreover, it hardly merits Geraghty’s contention that Obama’s red-line threat “turned out badly.” If only other red-line warnings could be so successful!

Paul Walker, Washington The writer is vice chair of the Arms Control Associatio­n board of directors. Greg Thielmann, Washington The writer is a member of the Arms Control Associatio­n board of directors.

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