Talk:Syria and weapons of mass destruction

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Syria admits it has chemical and biological weapons[edit]

See Syria says it will use chemical weapons if attacked. Eranb (talk) 11:11, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

An Israeli humorist said, "If it were not for Syrian denials, we would not know what the heck is going on." Das Baz, aka Erudil 17:38, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Split[edit]

I just undid this bold split[1], which wasn't discussed here, to allow people who follow this page to comment. Although it was suggested on article talk page, but failed to gain consensus.--PLNR (talk) 08:53, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Motivation[edit]

Regarding this removal [2]. I read that paper and a lot of other material here, that section can phrased much better, but overall its pretty accurate. I think it should be reintroduce into the overview section as a paragraph.--PLNR (talk) 11:20, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Agreed that removing this is not helpful, even though the section is not very good. The underlying source is good and there must be others, and the issue of strategic thinking around CW is important. Removing the section makes it less likely this subject will be improved here, and even in the current poor form it's better than absolutely nothing on the subject. Podiaebba (talk) 11:40, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
The reason I want to remove, rather than expand, the motivations section is that the article should reflect the journal and media coverage that's given to the various subtopics of "Syria and weapons of mass destruction." The attention given to the existence and use of Syrian stockpiles massively outweighs the coverage given to speculations about motivations, so I believe a length motivations section would be WP:UNDUE. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 01:36, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Other POV's on motivation include <http://www.meforum.org/493/guile-gas-and-germs-syrias-ultimate-weapons>, <http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/syria/chemical/>, <http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-future-of-chemical-weapons>. They all come to different conclusions. None of them are data-driven (for example, none of them try to collect and analyze a full sample of data to statistically analyze why some countries acquire chemical weapons and others do not). The sources also admit that their conclusions are extremely uncertain, as Syrian decision-making is opaque. There's no good way to summarize this except as "nobody knows for sure and everybody disagrees." We might as well cast horoscopes. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 01:36, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I find the argument about undue weight completely specious. Since when does the sheer quantity of current media coverage determine importance? The topic of Syria's motivation is surely relevant, even if there is no definitive knowledge. A short section that outlines the range of views and the limits of our understanding is completely appropriate. NPguy (talk) 16:59, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I sympathise that a lack of good scientific studies is annoying, but it's not a reason to ignore an important part of a topic. Podiaebba (talk) 17:18, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

Obviously this is an important topic; I'm surprised nothing was written in this page. Luckily, the page already cited a fascinating, and scholarly article by a security analyst in London, exploring the origins and nature of the program. There's a lot more material that could be added, but for the moment, I've just included a few brief highlights on the origins and motivations of the program. Sorry not to have done this previously. -Darouet (talk) 20:47, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

P.S. Thanks Rolf for your links - just had a quick look at them. While they appear to make largely the same points, it'd be great to add them as refs as well, and include any additional material. -Darouet (talk) 20:50, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Placeholder[edit]

[1] Podiaebba (talk) 13:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Removed NPOV violation[edit]

Removed an NPOV violation:

"Alarmed at the growing influence of radical groups within the context of the Syrian civil war, multiple US intelligence agencies produced top secret assessments, in the summer of 2013, regarding Syrian rebel chemical weapons capabilities. The assessments concluded that the Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda in Iraq were capable of acquiring, producing, and deploying sarin gas "in quantity."[2] One assessment noted that US soldiers in Syria would risk chemical attack from rebel forces.[2]"

Feel free to discuss here if you want to build a WP:CONSENSUS towards its inclusion. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 07:05, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Not sure what violated neutrality Rolf - maybe the use of the term "radical group" is what you consider to be non-neutral? In the future it'd be helpful if you'd actually explain what you mean. I'm returning the content without the "radical group" description, though I think we should include it later, unless someone comes up with sources describing Al-Nusra and AQI as something else. -Darouet (talk) 13:44, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
No, my initial concern is that there is consensus in the mainstream media that there is no significant evidence that any rebels have significant CW capability; therefore the given text violates WP:NPOV. Do you disagree, or do you want to propose a different edit? Rolf H Nelson (talk) 04:17, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
I think this is worthy of inclusion, given it is written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, who clearly has had some extremely good security establishment sources in the past. Until there is a good supporting second cite, perhaps we should introduce the info with "In December 2013 investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that ...". Rwendland (talk) 12:26, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
... as you can see, I've done that plus add the apparent DNI spokesperson's denial of the article. I'd be inclined to leave it at this until there is further reporting. Rwendland (talk) 13:13, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
I removed my tag as this edit addresses my concerns and appears to be grudgingly acceptable to Darouet. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 03:24, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Rolf for your explanation, and Rwendland for your addition. I'm not sure the official denial of the assessments, described by Hersh's piece, is worth inclusion, but I won't ask to remove it here. -Darouet (talk) 01:25, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
It'd be worthwhile noting, by the way, that "consensus" refers to a decision making process by us, the editors, and not to a "consensus" by the sources we use (e.g. in this case, a consensus among mainstream U.S. editorial boards). As far as sources are concerned, the first sentence of WP:RS states that "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared in those sources are covered." Hersh, and the London Review of Books, are the definition of reliable sources. -Darouet (talk) 01:30, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Let me ease your mind then by saying that I didn't mean WP:CON by consensus; I'll say "widespread agreement" in the future to avoid confusion. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 03:24, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I am not going to participate in decision-making on this point, due to conflict of interest, but I work in this field as a serious semi-professional analyst and the consensus of experts in the field is that Hersh is relying on unreliable sources and the report does not stand up to scrutiny. "In quantity", in particular, is widely questioned. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:41, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

chemical weapons quantity in context[edit]

"(To provide context for these estimates, 190,000 tons were manufactured by World War I combatants.[3])"

I've tried removing this before as I consider it unhelpful to compare a modern stockpile of one small nation over decades with an ancient stockpile of the entire industrialized world over four years. What are other editors' thoughts? If there's a source that specifically makes this comparison I'll certainly change my mind, otherwise IMHO should omit as a borderline WP:SYNTH violation. Rolf H Nelson (talk) 03:30, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

I don't think WP:SYN is relevant (the rule is often misused), but unless someone comes up with a good rationale for keeping it, I think you're right. A modern analogue would make more sense, and even then its presence here would have to be explained. -Darouet (talk) 03:47, 16 December 2013 (UTC)