Why Deterrence Failed to Prevent Syrian Use of WMD

Part of the Global Forecast 2015

When it comes to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, it’s hard not to like deterrence as a concept: it’s much better to forestall WMD development than react to a fait accompli. Yet deterrence of WMD development and use is not simple. The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in 2012 and 2013 is widely considered a failure of deterrence. The lessons of Syria are not easy, clear, or likeable for those contemplating future efforts to deter WMD proliferation.

Sharon Squassoni