This book analyses the Syria crisis and the role of chemical weapons in relation to US foreign policy. The Syrian government's use of such weapons and their subsequent elimination has dominated the US response to the conflict, where these are viewed as particularly horrific arms - a repulsion known as the chemical taboo. On the surface, this would seem to be an appropriate reaction: these are nasty weapons and eradicating them would ostensibly comprise a 'good' move. But this book reveals two new aspects of the taboo that challenge this prevailing view. First, actors use the taboo strategically to advance their own self-interested policy objectives. Second, that applying the taboo to Syria has actually exacerbated the crisis. As such, this book not only provides a timely analysis of Syria, but also a major and original rethink of the chemical taboo, as well as international norms more widely. -- .
Michelle Bentley is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London -- .
Introduction 1. The chemical weapons taboo Part I: A strategic taboo 2. Setting the redline 3. Ghouta and ideological innovation 4. Obama's taboo Part II: A failed taboo 5. Chemical weapons and false hierarchies 6. Escalating the crisis Conclusion Index -- .