BRUSSELS – There is a saying, too often used in interpreting international relations, that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Sometimes it proves true; often it does not.
Thirty years ago, the Afghan mujahedin were mistaken for friends of the West when they fought their country’s Soviet invaders. But how lazy that assumption seems now, given all that has since happened.
Syria’s deepening crisis, and the criminal use of chemical weapons there, has created a similar dynamic and dilemma. But the West need not risk making the same mistake and accepting the same false choices.
Begin with first principles. A chemical-weapons attack on the scale just seen in Syria must be deemed a game changer. Although possessing these weapons of mass destruction is technically not illegal, most states are parties to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria has refused to sign.