Luncheon on January 20, 2020


How to Prevent a Dictator from Using Chemical Weapons: Lessons from Syria


Jeffrey Knopf, PhD

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


As Syria descended into civil war, what had once appeared unthinkable – that the government would use chemical weapons (CW) against its own people – became a horrifying reality. This marked the first time that a state had used CW since the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that banned CW, was negotiated in the 1990s. The United States and its allies struggled with how to they should respond to this violation of the norm against chemical warfare.

In his presentation to the World Affairs Council, Dr. Jeff Knopf will describe how the United States government and its allies, seeking to deter CW attacks and to compel Syria to give up its chemical arsenal, eventually turned to strategies that rely on coercive threats. These efforts continued across the Obama and Trump administrations, eventually leading to two rounds of air strikes against Syria. Dr. Knopf will assess the outcome of US efforts in Syria, and will draw lessons from that case to support the use of coercive strategies more generally to combat the use of CW.

Jeff Knopf is Professor and Program Chair of Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Much of his teaching and research has been devoted to arms control, nonproliferation, and other forms of international cooperation that seek to reduce the threats from weapons of mass destruction. Professor Knopf earned his BA in Social Studies from Harvard College, and his MA and PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.


  • Monday, January 20, 2020
  • 11:30 am: Registration
  • 11:50 am: Luncheon
  • 12:50 pm: Program

Luncheon Menu

  • Wedgewood Salad with Italian Dressing
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • Whipped Potatoes
  • Seasonal Vegetables
  • Fresh Rolls and Butter
  • Chef’s Choice Dessert
  • Coffee
  • Vegetarian Option: Tossed with Pesto and Parmesan Cheese

Luncheon Cost

  • $33 for members
  • $40 for guests


Reservations are due by January 15 for this January 20 event.

Refunds are not available after the due date listed above.

Registration for the luncheon is now closed.  Audience seating for the lecture only may be available, depending on room capacity, on a first-come, first-served basis.


Palo Corona Regional Park Headquarters
(formerly Rancho Canada Golf Club)
4860 Carmel Valley Rd
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923