Sarin is one of the most toxic of the known chemical warfare agents. It is odorless and tasteless.
Other nerve agents announce themselves. Tabun smells like fruit. Samon a pleasant camphor. Sarin is odorless, tasteless and by the time you know it's there, it's too late.
It starts with a feeling of pressure. A sense of heaviness. Then it begins. Victims die within one to ten minutes, soaked in diarrhea, caked in vomit, seizing until finally they drown in their own fluids.
This is what happened in Syria. To children, for god's sake.
But who cares, right? It's another bad day in the third world.
My family tree is lopsided, legacy of the last century's encounter with chemical warfare. Travel up the trunk and find a knot. That's my great grandfather, lungs burned by mustard gas. Count the pock marks, each one signifying a life lost to Zyklon-B.
Maybe I watch the history channel more than I should, but I recall the US placing it's signature on Geneva Convention. I recall saying "Aye" when roll was called on "The Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases." And again in 1993.
We looked the other way when Saddam gassed 5,000 civilians in Halabja. He was at war with Iran who we really, really hated and the enemy of our enemy gets a pass (and perhaps some weapons).
No wonder Assad thinks he can get away with it. Our inaction spoke so much louder than words. Next time it will be 10,000. Or 100,000. Or millions. It has happened before.
We may not dog in this fight. Lots dogs on the loose in Syria, and they all bite. Let them bite each other, but leave the civilians out of it. Say no to dog fighting and send in peacekeepers.
“They killed my sons, the dearest things I had, and then they desecrated their bodies by setting them on fire. How can a mother endure such pain?” The mother of three brothers dragged from their home, killed and burned in Sarmin. (Amnesty International)A hundred thousand are dead and we have done nothing. Our heads struck the sand with concussive force.
We have the largest military the world has ever known, larger than the next ten combined. We can make this stop. This is not jock strap "get 'er done' bravado. This is the responsibility that comes with power.
God may be great, but he hasn't stopped the killing. Gentle Jesus meek and mild is nowhere to be found.
Sleep tight, Washington. Dream of strategy sessions and polling data, cocooned in soft linen. Win the conversation hope the god of your choosing has mercy for a country that could have done something, but chose nothing.