To intervene or not to intervene?

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This thesis will examine the ambivalent foreign policy decisions based on threat-assessments made by the U.S. during the 2013 Chemical Weapons Crisis in Syria. By juxtaposing neoclassical realist interest-based with Critical Security Studies’ norm-based considerations, the motive for U.S. foreign policy makers to opt for the chemical disarmament instead of a military intervention in Syria in response to the Ghouta chemical attacks is analyzed. An in depth historical context of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East starting WWII will be provided with, along with a timeline of events from the moment the issue of chemical weapons was raised. The thesis will conclude that neoclassical realism can account for most of the events: though the red line for intervention was set at the deployment or movement of chemical weapons, chemical disarmament was a more opportune option for the Obama administration, taking into consideration the lack of international support and the hurdles posed by U.S. Congress. The Chemical Weapons Crisis furthermore fits into the increasing reluctance of the U.S. to get involved in conflicts abroad.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen