September 21, 2013
PS160 Blog Post 1: The Conflict in Syria
The conflict over Syria's chemical weapon supply especially interested me when I noticed a unique characteristic of the issue; the United States and Russia act as a corporate actor, a joint unit, in some aspects of the conflict, but still disagree on others. The threats that the UN Security Council makes, therefore, lose credibility because the members of the UN cannot agree. A specific example of this curious situation is the recently published framework for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons. The US and Russia alike both aim to safely, quickly, and totally diminish Syria's chemical weapon supply, and wrote up a very specific list of demands for Syria which the two countries will ask the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to approve. Because they are acting together with similar interests, the US and Russia can be considered a corporate actor in this particular scenario.
They disagree, however, when it comes to the exact consequences of the threat. If Syria does not comply to the requests of the framework deal, what is the consequence? The UN Security Council's Article 42 states that in such a situation, forceful consequences may follow. This is where Russia disagrees, as it claims it never intended that possibility to be apart of the resolution. Because of this disagreement, the framework for the removal of Syria's chemical weapon supply loses credibility because it has been publicly announced that not all parties support this consequence. The Syrian government, therefore, may have reason to assume that it may not be worthwhile to acquiesce to the threats and demands of the framework. The agreement also proved to be ineffective because Syria denounced the framework, believing that Russia is a partner of Syria's regime. The question that interests me now is who then, in the long run, is the corporate actor- The United States and Russia, or Syria and Russia?