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Two unsurprising reactions followed in the immediate wake of the recent air attacks on Syrian chemical warfare facilities: Western commentators praised the raids while lamenting the absence of a Trump administration "Syria strategy"; and President Bashar Assad defiantly declared victory while resuming aerial assaults (albeit nonchemical) on rebel-held residential neighborhoods.The fixation of the West on a murder weapon – chemical munitions – rather than murder itself is unintentionally but decisively facilitating mass homicide in Syria.If the bleeding does not stop, step one of whatever strategy is adopted is decisively blocked. Nothing good will happen in Syria – "good" being defined as developments consistent with the objective defined above – so long as civilians are targets of Assad's military assets.Thinking through objectives and an implementing strategy for a problem as complex as Syria is no easy task.Going through this lengthy and difficult process will be time wasted if mass homicidal business as usual – provided it is conducted with nonchemical munitions – is permitted to proceed unopposed in Syria.
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