While countries around the world condemned Syria for adding chemicals to its arsenal — even as most nations were eliminating their own — few challenged the buildup and some were eager to profit from it.
“It was frustrating,” Juan C. Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism in the George W. Bush administration, recalled Friday.
“People tried. There were always other understandably urgent priorities — Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea,” said Mr. Zarate, who has written a book about American efforts to crack down on illegal financing for terrorist groups and states including Syria, Iran and North Korea. “It was an issue that was always there, but never rose to the top of the world’s agenda.”...NYT
The chemical weapons are seen as an Assad family “asset” — carefully and illegally stockpiled from the ’80’s on. The worries had really piled up by the time Obama moved into the White House. Once again, it was Wikileaks that revealed the serious concerns of our government. Hillary Clinton, then at State, pushed the issue.
The growth of Syria’s ability was the subject of a sharply worded secret cable transmitted by the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name in the fall of 2009. It instructed diplomats to “emphasize that failure to halt the flow” of chemicals and equipment into Syria, Iran and North Korea could render irrelevant a group of antiproliferation countries that organized to stop that flow.
The cable was included in a trove of State Department messages leaked to WikiLeaks in 2010. ...NYT
During the Obama administration, then, there have been efforts — as there have been on the part of Israel — to limit Assad’s ability to import the chemicals needed to add more weapons to his huge stockpile. And concerns that they were also falling in the hands of Hezbollah. The Russians are also in the game. They’ve given Syria access to chemical stockpiles dating back to the Soviet era.
As far back as the administration of Bush 1, it was clear that Syria’s chemical stockpiles were growing.
American companies were also suppliers:
One of the best-known cases in the United States involved a Waterville, Me., company once known as Maine Biological Laboratories. The company and several top executives were found guilty of allowing a series of shipments to Syria in 2001, including restricted biological agents. ...NYT
What is clear is our failure — for about two decades — to stop the Assads from amassing WMD’s. The US attack on Iraq in 2003 for fantasy WMD’s becomes even more comically horrible as we focus on where the real trouble lies.
Maybe we could blame Jane Fonda again! After all, she was in the movie that scared America about nuclear plants with the result that Americans have been getting our shivers from “nuclear WMD’s” and “yellowcake” for years while remaining unmoved by chemical weapons. Until a graphic video on our smart phone woke us up. …
… Evidently we have been too busy — until Obama came along — to try stop a dynasty of dictators in Syria from amassing and deploying chemical WMD’s.
graphic via shutterstock.com