Did Obama’s pressure bring Russia and Syria to chemical weapons deal?

CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE

Sept. 10, 2013

Did Obama’s pressure bring Russia and Syria to chemical weapons deal?

Michael C. Dorf, professor of law, is a former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and author of more than 70 law review articles and essays on constitutional law and related subjects. He comments are on the rapid move toward an international deal on Syrian chemical weapons.

Dorf says:

“The action now focuses on a Russian-brokered proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to an international team. With the endorsement of Russia, China, France, the U.S., and the Assad regime itself, the proposal could well render the prospect of a missile strike moot.

“That would surely be for the good. An internationally supervised transfer will be much more effective at preventing a future chemical strike by Syria and securing the chemical weapons than would be the necessarily cruder tool of a U.S. cruise missile attack.
The chemical weapons transfer proposal could still bog down, but for now, the episode raises the question of whether President Obama’s tough threats ‘worked’ in the sense of bringing credible pressure to bear on Syria and Russia.

“It looks like the threat was a key motivator in producing what could be a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons issue. And perhaps that in turn might even spark a wider diplomatic effort to end the civil war – although it remains too soon to say that.”

Note: Professor Dorf’s multiple blog entries about the potential U.S. attack on Syria can be found at www.dorfonlaw.org.

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