If that strategy sounds familiar, it should. As North Korea-watcher Adrian Hong put it to me recently, Assad can easily “adopt the North Korea playbook” and keep his chemical weapons but pretend to be forever on the verge of disarming, all the while continuing his bad behavior. The thing that has made this strategy so successful for North Korea is that it can get away with almost anything: global weapons proliferation, sprawling gulags, shelling South Korean civilians for fun. But the world is so concerned about North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction — nuclear as well as chemical — that nobody wants to upset the interminably protracted negotiations over rolling them back.
At this rate, Assad will end up with nukes.