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The Major Drawback of the Russian Syria Proposal

Yochi Dreazen explains that a deal to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons would require a long U.S. commitment:

If the U.S. and Syria came to a deal — a very, very big if — there would still be one major wrinkle. [Cheryl] Rofer said that the only two organizations who really know how to get rid of chemical weapons are the Russia and American militaries. Given the amount of time it would take to build and then operate the disposal facilities, those specially-trained troops would need to stay in Syria for years. In a war-weary U.S., keeping that many boots on the ground for that long would be an extremely hard sell [bold mine-DL].

As Dreazen understands, this isn’t just a “wrinkle” in the proposal, because it drives home just how politically radioactive the proposal would be here. Intervention in Syria is even more unpopular in Russia than it is here, so Russian participation in the disposal effort seems far-fetched, and virtually no one in the West would trust Russia to implement the terms of any deal in any case. When we consider how adamant most Americans and even most members of Congress have been that the U.S. avoid sending ground forces into Syria, it is obviously a non-starter in Congress and with the public to suggest that American soldiers be sent into Syria for years as part of a weapons disposal effort. Such a scenario disturbingly echoes the mistakes of the Lebanon and Somalia missions. Then again, why would the Syrian government accept American soldiers on its territory for any reason? Considering how ineptly the administration has justified its proposed attack on Syria, I don’t see how they could possibly persuade Congress or the public to support what would prove to be a much longer, more significant commitment than the “unbelievably small” attack they had been advocating earlier.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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