17 Feb 2023


Syria's WMD: What You Need to Know

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Academic level: College

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An intelligence analysis error can cost a few jobs but a security policy error can change the world. A good case in point lies in the word ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD), erstwhile a feared term, now a caricature masterpiece thanks to a security policy error that changed the world, eventually creating a terrorism juggernaut called ISIS that no one really knows what it will do next or how far it will go. Ignored intelligence information can lead to great disaster coupled with political fallout and perhaps a regime change, and on the worst case scenario, a revolution (Davis, 2012). 

The final resource between the all professional intelligence analysts and the almost all political security policymakers lie technocrats referred to as the national security policy advisers, one of the most complex, sensitive, complicated, and thankless jobs in the security system. The national security advisor has to juxtapose the security implication with political ramification even as he considers the veracity of the intelligence and the implication of following wrong intelligence vis-à-vis that of ignoring critical warnings. 

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Veracity of Intelligence 

America has many incidents that confirm the infallibility of its intelligence organs, their deductions and conclusions key among them the WMD saga and the disastrous 11 th September, 2001 attack where everything that could go wrong in the intelligence industry clearly went wrong (Davis, 2012). If the intelligence is wrong, my job in this regard is concluded: this is therefore the logical place to begin. I would fast consider the probability of the intelligence based on the available and confirmed information about Syria. 

The current government of Syria controls less that 50% of the Syrian geographical territory and just over 55% of the populace; the impasse is deadlocked, the government is desperate and their human rights history is ugly. Furthermore, Syria is currently a hotbed for Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a sworn enemy of the United States whom the US military apparatus has been fighting even inside Syrian territory (Al Jazeera Media Network, 2016; BBC, 2016). The probability favors veracity of the intelligence. Secondly I would seek a more detailed report regarding how the security information was obtained, analyzed and conclusions made; this request will automatically be on an undertaking not to share the particulars thereof with policymakers. If the information follows credibility, I will move to the next step. 

Threat assessment 

Our foreign policy occasions accusation of policing the world, a job that should entirely be left in the able hands of the UN Security Council and its organs. The nest step therefore is to consider how the threat affects American interests. It is very telling that a WMD in the form of a chemical weapon is involved in this matrix and this makes it hard to tell how harmful the weapon is and across which geographical area. With factors such as air travel, ocean currents, and air pollution, it is possible for an adverse chemical reaction to have intercontinental effect as was evidenced when the Chernobyl Power station went critical and exploded in the 1980s. The threat is also being said to affect neighboring countries politically which is a very pertinent issue as the neighbors in question include Iraq, which is currently under American occupation and Israel, a key ally (Al Jazeera Media Network, 2016). These issues qualify the incident as one that the US should consider intervening in. 

Nature of intervention necessary 

It is an established fact that a government that uses a WMD on its own civilian population or at all has no business being in power and must be toppled despite any justification for being in power in the first place. Regime change procedures however, vary from situation to situation, some call for a little support towards a civil revolution process that will push a regime to resign like in Tunisia, others call for air support that will facilitate the success of a rebellion like in Libya while others are obstinate and will require an all-out war such as Iraq. President Bashar al-Assad’s Unitary-dominant political party regime has stubbornly held on to power under impossible circumstances since the advent of the Arab Spring 5 years ago. The only stratagem of toppling his government must involve an all-out war with ground troops, yet a government that use WMDs on its own rebellious populace will have no qualms using the same against an invading army (BBC, 2016). 

Aftermath of military intervention 

The Iraq invasion commenced on 20 th March, 2003 and ended promptly on Mayday 2003. Seemingly, all that remained was mopping up, putting a democratic government in place and preparing an exit strategy. Thirteen years later and thousands of military casualties, this has not yet materialized begging the question on whether this situation had been considered in the first place. It is times like this when an artificial intelligence algorithm like the once being developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would come in handy (Cuthbertson, 2016). I would however, request for intelligence on possible and probable scenarios of a post US invasion Syria before arriving at the policy advice regarding intervention. 

Domestic political implications 

The George W. Bush approval ratings are a stuff of legend in the aftermath of the infamous 911 attacks. His approval ratings were above 90% yet after the Iraq invasion, they had plummeted to as low as 25%. A protracted war against an enemy that has not directly attacked the US or any of her allies would be politically disastrous in the US; this is an absolute factor and an element of primary consideration. 


The use of WMD by Syria upon its population with political implications to her immediate neighbors is an act that warrants immediate intervention by the US government’s security apparatus. The only plausible intervention is an all-out war with massive water, air, and ground forces and will involve massive casualties whether or not WMDs come into play. The aftermath of such an intervention is massive and any means of establishing the same would take time, perhaps too much time for meaningful intervention. In such circumstances, an all-out attack is potential politically disastrous albeit the same can be mitigated if the issue can be spanned in a manner the shows Israel as the target of the WMD attack or intertwines the Syrian government with ISIS, an enemy that the US is already at war with even inside Syria itself (Al Jazeera Media Network, 2016). The only plausible way out is to pursue a non-military approach alongside covert support for the rebellion already in place. 


Al Jazeera Media Network. (2016). Syria: Coalition bombing kills at least 56 civilians . Retrieved from <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/led-air-strikes-kill-21-civilians-syria-160719045329897.html/> 

BBC (2016). Syria: The story of the conflict. BBC Middle East. Retrieved from <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868/> 

Cuthbertson, A. (2016). Artificial intelligence algorithm predicts the future. Retrieved from <http://europe.newsweek.com/artificial-intelligence-algorithm-predicts-future-ai-mit-robot-human-473118/> 

Davis, J. (2012). Tensions in analyst-policymaker relations: Opinions, facts, and evidence — central intelligence agency . Retrieved from <https://www.cia.gov/library/kent-center-occasional-papers/vol2no2.htm/> 

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