Stories by Rebecca Hersman

Expert Voices

Civilian deaths in Syria require more than a military response

UN ambassadors from the U.K. (Karen Pierce) and U.S. (Nikky Haley) talk during a Security Council meeting
British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce talks with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at a Security Council heaeing on April 10, 2018, about last week's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

While last week’s horrific chemical weapons attack in Douma has seized the world’s attention, potentially pushing President Trump toward military action, Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chemical weapons more than 20 times since last year’s missile strike, and as many as eight times just since the beginning of 2018. So the question is: What comes after strikes?

The big picture: For Assad, the benefits of using these weapons have outweighed the costs. The U.S. and the international community must change that calculus through a range of economic, diplomatic and legal efforts, in addition to any military response. Otherwise, attacks will resume once the spotlight is gone.

Expert Voices

How Trump's nuclear posture addresses new global threats

If the 2010 nuclear posture review (NPR) reflected a left-of-center compromise, probably to the right of President Obama’s preferences, the 2018 NPR is right-of-center, yet falls to the left of many of President Trump’s statements. While staying within the policy mainstream and containing considerable continuity with its predecessor, Trump's review does make a few notable departures.

Expert Voices

French-led effort a vital step toward ending chemical weapons use

four child victims of reported gas attack
Syrian children being treated in a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held, besieged town of Douma on January 22, 2018. Photo: Hasan Mohamed / AFP/ Getty Images

Today a group of 30 countries, led by France and including the U.S., launched the International Partnership Against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons to hold perpetrators accountable. The announcement follows reports yesterday of a new chemical attack by the Assad regime in the Syrian town of Douma, yet was met with stunningly little fanfare from the media and civil society groups.

Since the complete collapse of the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the need for new approaches has grown acute. Essential as it is, this partnership is only a first step.