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Strange Silence on Success in Removing Syria’s Chemical Weapons | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Strange Silence on Success in Removing Syria’s Chemical Weapons




OPCW

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Last week, buried beneath banner headlines blaring about Obamacare hearings, National Security Agency surveillance revelations and the Boston Red Sox’ World Series win, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) quietly reported that Syria “has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.”

On the heels of winning the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, the unglamorous but undeniably effective OPCW, using saws, sledgehammers and cutting torches in the middle of a war zone, defied predictions by meeting the November 1 deadline to disable Syria’s chemical weapons program. The bombshell was that there was no bombshell—at least, not of the unconscionable chemical kind.

This wasn’t just a vindication of President Obama’s decision to work with Russia on a non-military solution to the Syrian weapons crisis (and a well-deserved slap in the face to neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, who compared the president of the United States to Groucho Marx, “doing farcical pratfalls as he followed down Neville Chamberlain’s tragic path”). It was also a success for international organizations like the United Nations and the OPCW, and, indeed, for diplomacy itself.

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That the story made few waves was all the more surprising considering that when Secretary of State John Kerry first—and, as was widely presumed, mistakenly—suggested this path to disarmament, the perceived gaffe was thoroughly covered, parsed and even parodied.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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