Fletcher in the News

Syria Pact Cause for Major Concern: Professor Martel Comments

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

An ambitious new pact touted yesterday by American and Russian leaders that would identify and dispose of Syrian chemical weapons by next summer carries a huge risk of failure, according to foreign policy experts.

“It is beyond fraught with peril. That’s a very long time in an area with very porous borders,” William C. Martel, an international security studies professor at Tufts University’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said yesterday, adding that the agreement means allowing Syrian authorities to keep chemical and other weapons for nearly a year. “Who knows where they’ll be taken.”

European and United Nations officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressed hope that the chemical weapons agreement might even led to peace in the civil war.

But President Obama continued his threat to take independent military action without U.N. support. “If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act,” he said.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who led U.S. negotiators in Geneva, said: “I have no doubt that the combination of the threat of force and the willingness to pursue diplomacy helped to bring us to this moment,” although Syrian officials remained mum about the new plan worked out between their ally Russia and U.S. officials.

But Martel and other experts believe the Obama administration’s failure to launch a missile strike after finding evidence of multiple use of Syrian chemical weapons against civilians has crippled U.S. standing in the world and emboldened and strengthened the hand of both Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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