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View Diary: Syria: Conspiracy Theories and Disaster Hyperbolism (245 comments)

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  •  in your math, you might also want to consider the (10+ / 0-)

    dispersal range for Sarin in an artillery shell sufficient for an LD-50.

    You'll find that it would take one hell of a big fucking artillery shell to kill 230,000 people.

    Just sayin'.

    I published some writings on chemical weapons back during the binary nerve gas debate in the US in the 1980's (I had some sources in the Pentagon), so it's a topic I know a few things about.

    As far as their military use, chemical weapons were never really intended to kill people--their true utility is to force opposing forces to wear bulky and restrictive anti-contamination suits, which slow enemy forces down and interfere with their ability to perform military tasks. Indeed, the "persistent" chemical agents were specifically designed for use in rear areas like fuel depots, staging areas, or airfields, to cripple operations as much as possible. Whether the agents actually kill anybody or not is a side issue--that's not the intent.

    Civilians, of course, do not have access to such anti-contamination suits, and are therefore sitting-duck targets for chemical weapons.  But that still leaves all the problems associated with spreading enough chemical agent in sufficient concentrations to produce an LD-50 in a large area. It is not as easy as it sounds.

    •  meh that introduces things I wasn't comparing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NedSparks, VelvetElvis

      like population density for example. Because that's besides the point I was making.

      That said you might be right about the military purpose of it but when you release nerve agents into civilian populations you have only one goal and that is mass murder on a level that is only really rivaled by nuclear weapons.

      •  It's no where near nuclear level n/t (6+ / 0-)

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:27:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  full scale use of chemical weapons (0+ / 0-)

          on a city would be as bad as a nuclear warhead.

          •  As would fire bombing or anything on a city wide (5+ / 0-)

            level. You can destroy entire cities with a bunch of people with fire. Nuclear is an entirely different level. They are not the same.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:44:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I never said they are the same (0+ / 0-)

              I said as bad.

              •  So then fire bombing is as bad as nuclear? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                YucatanMan, onionjim

                Anything can wipe out a lot of people. Nuclear does it on a different level and destroys the land in a way nothing else really does.

                If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:51:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  fire bombing requires a lot of planes (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NedSparks

                  and bombs and frankly certain factors to achieve the same level of death as nuclear or chemical so no.

                  Chemical is really the only thing as bad as nuclear (though biological is kinda of close)

                  •  Biological can be much worse (3+ / 0-)

                    As the Native Americans found out on various occasions. That one is the really scary one if used wrong.

                    But what you're basically saying is that chemical is as bad as nuclear because it's easy to deploy when you don't have a large military. Which really would make it worse than nuclear because poor countries could afford it so proliferation is a bigger problem. As in the US those things that give the poor power are always considered worse than those that give the rich power.

                    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                    by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:01:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  biological takes time though (0+ / 0-)

                      and no chemical/nuclear kill indiscriminately on orders of magnitude and quickness that nothing else readily matches.

                    •  You're making a class issue out of this? (0+ / 0-)

                      really?

                      You're leaving out the empire factor.  Even in the post cold-war era, the US and Russia still arm most of the world.  Syria has a substantial fleet of MIGs as well as other Russian supplied conventional armaments.  

                      Even with the cold war over, countries that fly migs and countries that fly F-16s seem to still always find themselves at odds.  

                      The parties most likely to use chemical weapons are non-state actors, guerrilla forces some might call "terrorists."  I think it's far more likely that a rebel group was responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons than Assad.  Assad is armed to the teeth with Russian hardware and has no need to use chemical weapons.

                       

                      Praxis: Bold as Love

                      by VelvetElvis on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:04:11 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  There is a class issue (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm not making anything of it. Chemical weapons are more available to poorer countries. And I'm not sure that your assertion that chemical weapons are mainly used by non-state actors is actually backed up. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I'd want some evidence on that before I believe it.

                        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                        by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:10:42 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  actually, producing an LD-50 over an area the (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    YucatanMan, AoT, onionjim, wu ming, JVolvo

                    size of any decently-populated city would require an equally large number of planes and bombs. The area covered by a single chemical bomb is not as large as you seem to think. And the area covered by a chemical artillery shell is very very much smaller.

                    There is no practical way to produce nuclear-level casualties in a city (even a city of completely unprotected civilians) using chemical weapons.  It simply can't be done. It would take a bombardment at a level that most militaries simply cannot carry out.

                    •  I would suggest that you haven't seen (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      NedSparks

                      most of the modern delivery systems then as it would not require even half of the level of bombardment as you seem to think it would to cover a 'decently populated city'

                      •  you are simply wrong (8+ / 0-)

                        I am intimately familiar with all modern chemical weapon delivery systems----since the time I wrote an article for "The Nation" about the then-new BLU-80B "Bigeye" binary VX chemical bomb, right up to the development of the chemical warhead for the MLRS.

                        There are numerous problems when faced with attempting to cover a large area, the size of a city, with chemical weapons.  Each individual munition only covers a small area --- the 155mm GB artillery shell, for instance, produces an LD-50 in a radius of about 40 feet, in ideal conditions. That effect would be lessened by weather conditions such as winds. Even without windy conditions, the gas would naturally disperse as it drifted, and would quickly become ineffective.  So each particular area would have to be hit with its own shell. Covering an entire city would therefore require thousands of artillery shells.

                        The delivery system with the largest payload made by the US was the Sergeant tactical missile, which could carry either a nuclear or chemical warhead.  With VX nerve gas under normal conditions, the Sergeant was capable of producing an LD-33 in an area of just under one square mile. It would take about 40 Sergeant tactical missiles to produce an LD-33 in a city the size of Damascus. To produce an LD-50 would require almost twice as many missiles.

                        One nuclear warhead or bomb, delivered by one plane or missile, would destroy that same city and kill virtually everyone in it.

                        The idea that chemical weapons are comparable to nuclear weapons, is simply silly. They're not in the same league.

                        •  an "LD-50", for those who don't know, is a (7+ / 0-)

                          "lethal dose 50", which means an amount of gas sufficient to cause death among 50% of those exposed to it.

                          An "LD-33" is a "lethal dose 33", which will kill 33% of those exposed.

                        •  I don't want to bog this discussion down (0+ / 0-)

                          into a techinifest so I'm not going to continue this.

                          If you have some proof to show me then please do so but I've already made my point and honestly you started this 'is not' stuff earlier too and I simply am not going to keep doing this with you.

                          There's nothing silly about comparing chemical weapons to nuclear espeically given how lethal both are with only small amounts of material.

                          I get that you want a practical discussion but I'm not getting involved in one I made the point I wanted so good bye.

                          •  as a chemist and one that has studied (0+ / 0-)

                            organophosphates I think I can be alright in shrugging right back at you.

                          •  Did you miss the point that you were talking to... (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim, mickT, JVolvo

                            a person who is...

                            ...intimately familiar with all modern chemical weapon delivery systems----since the time I wrote an article for "The Nation" about the then-new BLU-80B "Bigeye" binary VX chemical bomb, right up to the development of the chemical warhead for the MLRS.
                            WTF is wrong with you? Are you so ingrained to your beliefs that you can't admit when you are wrong?

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:30:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  to those that read this (0+ / 0-)

                            I know exactly who I am talking to, namely someone that has claimed to have written a lot about chemical delivery though mostly so far the cites have been limited to artillery and rocketry and are about a decade out of development or more.

                            This expertise has little to do with the point I was making though about the general destructiveness of chemical weapons and on any other day I'd be more then willing to have a prolonged technical discussion with Lenny. But not today for a variety of reasons.

                            bye

                          •  To those who read this, we have no proof that (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim, mickT

                            duhban is a person knowledgeable of any kind of Chemistry at all. In fact we don't even know if he is a human being and not some sort of complex conversation algorithm.

                            Good luck in proving that you are human, duhban.

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:43:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the LD-50 is the same for a CW shell, or rocket, (2+ / 0-)

                            or bomb--no matter who makes it. They all work the same way. (shrug)

                          •  You are swimming upstream with this one... nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:57:54 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  yes and no (0+ / 0-)

                            yes in that LD 50 is a concentration level of __(insert chemical here) generally in mg per something (m3 if you're talking gases generally)

                            no in that different dispersitive methods are able to disperse chemical weapons at lethal levels further out then others.

                            For example artillery shells often only have about 6 lbs of agent and it is this and not the explosive that limits there kill radius. However bombs and rockets often can carry more and thus their possible radius is larger.

                            You're comparing apples and oranges here pretty much with LD 50 being a chemical property (and an important one for any chemist working with a possibly lethal substance) and dispersion radius which while dependent on LD 50 is not a chemical property.

                          •  let me repeat: (5+ / 0-)

                            The delivery system with the largest payload made by the US was the Sergeant tactical missile, which could carry either a nuclear or chemical warhead.  With VX nerve gas under normal conditions, the Sergeant was capable of producing an LD-33 in an area of just under one square mile. It would take about 40 Sergeant tactical missiles to produce an LD-33 in a city the size of Damascus. To produce an LD-50 would require almost twice as many missiles.

                            For example artillery shells often only have about 6 lbs of agent and it is this and not the explosive that limits there kill radius.
                            Um, the reason that's all they have is because that's all that will fit in a 155mm shell.  And 155mm shells are all the same size, no matter who makes them.

                            You really have no idea what you are talking about.

                            Are you THAT desperate to not admit you are mistaken? It won't kill you.  Honest, it won't.

                            (sigh)  I guess, unlike you, I am simply not still young enough to know everything.

                          •  really? (0+ / 0-)

                            You keep missing my point Lenny but that's okay I get it you have to be right never mind you're not even on point.

                            This is why I really should have stayed away.

                            Let's continue this when you understand the point I am making okay?

                          •  I understand the point you are making (4+ / 0-)

                            And I have no problem with the point you are making. Indeed, I agree with the point you are making; chemical weapons are a special kind of bad. Which is indeed why they have been banned by international treaty.

                            But facts matter---and half the stuff you've been spouting out about chemical weapons is simply wrong.  As in factually incorrect.  As in not true.

                            Sorry if you don't like it being pointed out that you are simply wrong.  You'll get over it, I promise.

                            You keep missing my point Lenny but that's okay I get it you have to be right never mind you're not even on point.
                            I am right. That is because I know enough about the subject to discuss it, and you don't. (shrug)  
                          •  bullshit (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Christin

                            The only fact I've mentioned is the lethal dosage of sarin gas (if I remember right it's 0.05 milligrams) everything since is my opinion based on the sheer lethality of chemical weapons.

                            You may not like that opinion but it's my opinion.

                          •  ps (0+ / 0-)

                            you've yet to demonstrate you actually get my point and your dogged insistence on bogging this down into some technical discussion on the deployment of chemical weapons truly is besides my point so if you actually do understand my point why the hell are you trying to change the subject?

                            Sounds to me like you just admitted to a fallacy there.

                          •  he is trolling. best to ignore him n/t (2+ / 0-)
                          •  whatever (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim

                            Perhaps you could tell us what the payload is for binary VX from the BLU-80B Bigeye glide bomb, and the radius for its LD-50 . . . . ?

                            With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.

                            I do.

                            (shrug)

                          •  :sigh: (0+ / 0-)

                            the LD 50 for VX is only an estimation because it's so freaken toxic. The one I know of is ~ 2.3 micrograms which is 2.3e-6 per kg.

                            We done with show and tell?

                            PS Bigeye was a failure so I am not sure why you are interested in it. That said I believe the VX load was about 80 kg.

                          •  OK, so you can Google (3+ / 0-)

                            Here's why I am interested in the Bigeye: no Syrian chemical bomb (if Syria even HAS chemical bombs) will deliver any more VX than the Bigeye could.  Hence no Syrian chemical bomb can cover any larger area than the Bigeye could.  Hence it will take no fewer Syrian bombs to cover Damascus than the number of required Bigeyes. And that is a lot of Bigeyes--at least 150 of them.

                            Which means you are simply wrong when you assert:

                            fire bombing requires a lot of planes and bombs and frankly certain factors to achieve the same level of death as nuclear or chemical so no.
                            and
                            I would suggest that you haven't seen most of the modern delivery systems then as it would not require even half of the level of bombardment as you seem to think it would to cover a 'decently populated city'
                            I do realize that you're young enough to know everything, and nobody can tell you anything.

                            Nevertheless, you are simply wrong.  (shrug)

                          •  that has absolutely fuck all to do with the point (0+ / 0-)

                            I was making all the way back up there with Lenny.

                            I realize you're old enough to think you know everything but you don't. Your gaff about 'the ld 50 of the bomb' is proof enough of that.

                            Just leave it be, you don't understand the point and I'm tired of going round and round with you. You either can not or will not listen and I don't frankly give a damn either way.

                          •  whatever (1+ / 0-)

                            You're mistaken.  You are factually incorrect.

                            Live with it. And get over it.

                          •  given that you don't know the difference (0+ / 0-)

                            between a chemical property and a derived statistic I would be careful talking about being factually incorrect.

                          •  Your point was that there was a significant (1+ / 0-)

                            difference between a firebomb attack and a chemical attack in that it would be easier to kill an entire city with a chemical attack as opposed to a fire bomb attack. From what I can tell, and I'm clearlt biased, you can't actually back up the assertion that mass death is easier with chemical weapons that with fire bombing.

                            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:54:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  :sigh: one last time (0+ / 0-)

                            Since you are so hung up on firebombing let's do some comparing and we'll use the worst fire bombing in WW2 in Europe, Dresden.

                            Now according to wiki, it took 4 raids of 722 bombers using 3,900 tons of high explosives/incendiaries to destroy 15 square miles and kill 22,000 to 29,000 people.

                            You could achiever that same result with 15 missiles (using Lenny's own claims not my own) and 1.1 to 1.45 grams of  sarin.

                            Just for comparison sake it took 3,538,020,486 grams of high explosives/incendiaries.

                            So using 2% of the numbers used on Dresden and using about 4e-8% (or .00000004%) of the material used on Dresden you can achieve the same result. Never mind that those payloads are much larger the that. Never mind that it's entirely possible you actually are going to kill more people because of the chemical properties of sarin.

                            You sure you want to keep saying they are the same?

                          •  Ja, wir haben gelernt, dass Teh duhban die (1+ / 0-)

                            Möglichkeit, die Google zu nutzen, um mehr zu wissen scheinen in den Kopf, als tatsächlich im Kopf hat.
                            Ein Googspert, wenn man so will.
                            Es ist zu lachen. Aber mit Tränen der tiefen Trauer und Bestürzung denn es ist nicht eine lustige Veranstaltung.

                            Realize, good sir Lenny, that you have informed us well with your actual knowledge (not Googsmarts) however you will never reclaim the minutes spent shadowboxing with this entity.  :o(

                            The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

                            by JVolvo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:38:35 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the entity was not my target (1+ / 0-)

                            The audience was--and if I have informed the audience, I am happy.  :)

                          •  ...and it's all about how anything makes you feel. (0+ / 0-)

                            Manning/Snowden in 2016

                            by Immigrant Punk on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:34:48 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks Lenny. You made me a bit smarter, (0+ / 0-)

                            and duh made me a bit dumber. So, all in all, a wash.

                            :)

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:51:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Er, what if you are fighting a civil war? (0+ / 0-)

        You don't have to make your point by exaggerating an evil act.   Civil wars (and insurgencies) take place where the people are.    Initial reports of the attack claimed that it was preparation for the Syrian army to reclaim territory in East Ghouta, citing as evidence a buildup of tanks and thousands of troops.    This was used as evidence for why Assad would have used gas.

        Now we have changed it to "because he is a madman who felt like it" because that sells war better (obviously a madman might decide to attack anywhere, as opposed to a desperate military relying upon evil tactics to accomplish a rational goal.)

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