Jack Snyder, SIWPS member and Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations, and Erica Borghard, a Ph.D. student at Columbia’s Department of Political Science, have written a blog post on the potential damage of President Obama’s statements regarding Syrian movement or use of chemical weapons, “Evading Invasion: Syria’s Chemical Weapons and Obama’s Audience Costs.”

The article, published on the analysts’ blog “Political Violence @ a Glance,” notes that Obama faced possible audience costs as a result of his drawing a “red line” at the Syrian government “moving around” chemical weapons, then shifting the rhetoric to include only the “use” of such weapons following reports that Syrian chemical weapons were, in fact, being moved. Since the Administration dismissed the earlier threat “with some hand waving and word games,” Dr. Snyder and Ms. Borghard argue that this particular example weakens the case for the relevance of audience costs.

The article is available here.