Syria and the Chemical Weapons Taboo: Exploiting the Forbidden (New Approaches to Conflict Analysis) (Hardcover)
In this bold study, Michelle Bentley analyses the role of chemical weapons in the Syria crisis, particularly in relation to US foreign policy. The use and subsequent rejection of such weapons by the Syrian government had an enormous influence on America's response to the conflict - a clear example of the power of the 'chemical taboo'. But while it seems only reasonable to condemn chemical warfare wherever it occurs, Bentley exposes two increasingly prevalent aspects of the taboo that are deeply troubling.
Firstly, the Syria crisis saw various sides employ the chemical taboo strategically to advance their own self-interested policy objectives. This is a new conceptualisation of the taboo, not as a principle of normative adherence but as a political resource used to achieve aims completely unrelated to the prevention of chemical warfare. Secondly, Bentley argues that applying the taboo to Syria has in fact exacerbated the crisis by creating a false sense of progress and erroneously legitimising the Assad regime.
Serving as both a timely analysis of the situation in Syria and a major, original rethink of the chemical taboo and international norms more generally, Syria and the chemical weapons taboo will be of great interest to students and scholars of international security, international relations and political language.
About the Author
Michelle Bentley is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London