A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Zunes on the US Track Record on Chemical Weapons in the Mideast

Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco has a column at Foreign Policy in Focus on "The US and Chemical Weapons: No Leg to Stand On," which lays out the track record of US policy, which is (unsurprisingly) inconsistent. Noting that chemical weapons have been used on a number of occasions (Britain in Iraq in 1920, Egypt in Yemen, Iraq against Iran) and that the US has never criticized the Egyptian or Israeli chemical weapons programs, he makes an important point. I would only add that while it may look hypocritical, the fact that the US has looked the other way in the past does not necessarily mean it should not condemn use of chemical weapons now; it just undercuts our credibility. And saying we should condemn it does not mean I'm advocating intervention; that is really a separate issue.

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