Links -August 25, 2016

Thomas Graham Jr. updates George Kennan’s Long Telegram. Top photo from here.

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on the UN-OPCW Report on Syria. The report attributes responsibility for three chemical attacks in Syria, two by the Assad regime and one by ISIL. It’s important that it distinguishes “industrial chlorine,” which is needed for water purification and therefore in a different category from strictly war agents like sarin. Both can kill, but chlorine’s peaceful uses make it impossible to completely remove it from Syria.

Syria did not declare all its chemical weapons facilities. This is no surprise, and many of us expected it. But nothing here suggests that large quantities of chemical agents were retained. Reporting on these stories tends to conflate chlorine with war agents. The difference is important when considering the effectiveness of the removal operation of 2013-2014. That operation did what it was supposed to. The fact that Assad is willing to use a necessary water purification agent as a war gas speaks to his character.

The Woulda Coulda Shoulda School of Foreign Policy Analysis. Paul Pillar is always worth reading, and here he nails what’s wrong with most of those analyses of the removal of Syria’s chemical arsenal and a number of other foreign policy issues.

More about Anton Vaino, Vladimir Putin’s new chief of staff.

The kitty litter accident at WIPP has cost $2 billion. Ralph Vartabedian persists in calling WIPP a dump. Perhaps he wants to convey his contempt. To me, that word implies a disorderly and uncontrolled disposal. We don’t even handle municipal waste that way any more.

The mammoth pirates. Photographic essay of unauthorized mining for mammoth ivory in Siberia.

 

 

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