Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva on September 12, 2013, to discuss the possibility of Syria handing over its chemical weapons to the international community. This approach was proposed as an alternative to a military strike as a response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Damascus.
Sarin, one of the world's most lethal chemical weapons, has long been stockpiled but is rarely used by states or terrorists. Allegations of attacks on civilians in Syria, if substantiated, would represent a departure from long-standing international practice.
In his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Stephen Biddle acknowledges that neither the case for nor against using force in Syria is without serious costs and risks. He evaluates the five main goals an attack might be designed to achieve: deterring further CW use and upholding norms against the employment of such weapons; preserving U.S. credibility; enabling a negotiated settlement to the war; toppling Assad and his government; and ending the humanitarian crisis by saving civilian lives.
President Obama spoke to the American public on September 10, 2013, about the U.S. government's response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. He requested Congress to delay its vote on the proposed military strike, in order to address Russia's proposal of Syria handing over chemical weapons to the international community.
Jonathan Tepperman examines six of the last major U.S. military operations—the Gulf War, Haiti, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and "highlights a few basic principles that should give the Obama administration confidence to forge ahead on Syria today."
On the margins of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, September 5-6, 2013, leaders from Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America released a joint statement condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Richard Betts explains the policy dilemma that emerged for President Obama when the Syrian regime crossed his "red line," and why his decision to pass the buck to Congress was a politically logical but strategically unwise compromise.
On September 4, 2013, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations debated the resolution: "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons."
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, and General Martin Dempsey testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on September 3, 2013, regarding options for U.S. military operations in Syria.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Koblentz argues that the United States should work with other nuclear-armed states to manage threats to nuclear stability in the near term and establish processes for multilateral arms control efforts over the longer term.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »