3 months ago
So let’s deal with objections right up front. If chemical weapons aren’t adequate justification to attack Syria, then they weren’t justification to attack Iraq either. Right. And I didn’t agree with or support Operation Iraqi Freedom Phase I, while I did support OIF II and OIF III because I watched as 80-100 jihadists per month crossed the Syrian and Jordanian borders to fight us inside of Iraq, and because leaving would have had catastrophic consequences once the eggs were broken. Briefly said, once there we had to stay and finish the job, however horrible it was.
But the horror of chemical weapons is being trotted out as justification for degrading Syrian capability to make those weapons, or deliver those weapons, or something. It isn’t clear. How that horror is different from what preceded it, I wonder? Bashar Hafez al-Assad and his father before him were and are brutal dictators who rule by the use of fear. Torture, beheadings, imprisonment of political opponents, assassinations and all manner of horror has been perpetrated on the Syrian people for many years.
Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria have beheaded all 24 Syrian passengers traveling from Tartus to Ras al-Ain in northeast of Syria, among them a mother and a 40-days old infant.
Gunmen from the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant stopped the bus on the road in Talkalakh and killed everyone before setting the bus on fire.
According to media reports, the attack was carried out because the passengers who were from three different villages in Ras al-Ain, supported anti-terrorist Kurdish groups which were formed recently to defend Kurdish population against anti-Syria terrorists.
Bodies of a mother and her 40-days infant were also seen among the dead, which were recognized by their relatives.
So what about chemical weapons? Michael Fumento gives us the straight scoop in a different context, i.e., the chlorine attacks in Fallujah, Iraq, in the spring of 2007.
Insurgents launched three more chlorine truck attacks in Al Anbar province on March 17, killing two and sickening an additional 350. Is this a disturbing new trend? No. Had those trucks been filled with high explosives, each could have killed around 100 people. Instead, combined, they killed two. Probably all those sickened will recover with little or no lasting damage, as opposed to losing limbs and eyes. Chemicals have never lived up to their reputation as weapons.
That’s why even though the Germans invented Sarin gas, which is vastly more deadly than chlorine, they decided not to use it. Hitler didn’t forego its use because he was a nice guy. Rather, his generals convinced him that high explosives are far more effective in causing deaths, not to mention that all the poison gas in the world can’t destroy material objects. That said, gas is a good terror weapon because most people have a more innate terror of being gassed than of being blown up or shot. But that’s primarily or exclusively because gas is such a rare threat. The more the terrorists use chlorine, the less the terror effect will be.
I remember this vividly since my son was deployed in Fallujah in 2007. When the Marines finished taking over the industrial area of Fallujah from al Qaeda in the summer of 2007, they found many thousands of gallons of chlorine, all unused – unused because it was completely, tactically ineffective. And I am on the record concurring with Michael’s assessment here and here.
If your desire is tactical effectiveness, you use conventional ordnance. In other words, as horrible as it sounds, you blow people and things up. And it is horrible, just as horrible as killing far fewer of them with chemical weapons. And it is just as horrible as your supposed allies in Syria shooting and/or burning infants to death.
I have my own views of the administration’s case (or lack thereof) for any strategic value in Syria, but whatever else one may believe about the situation, the use of chemical weapons as justification for military action is either ignorant or disingenuous.