Rationality and Sarin Gas: What Social Science Tells Us About Assad’s Chemical Weapons Attack

If Assad wanted to know what would provoke Donald Trump to attack him directly, fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles gave the answer on April 6. Two days earlier, the town of Khan Sheikhoun southwest of Idlib was hit by a deadly nerve agent, likely sarin gas, killing over eighty civilians. This was the same nerve agent that Syrian armed forces used in a rebel-held area near Damascus in 2013, which triggered President Obama’s famous red line. While Russia insists the attack was a false flag operation, several factors indicate that the regime was behind the recent attack, despite their ostensible disarmament. First,...

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