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  •  Great perspective- Thank you. (65+ / 0-)

    One thing, though-

    In short - chemical weapons are the weapons of a coward
    Umm...isn't anybody who sends a bunch of kids to fight their fights, instead of risking their own blood, or their own children's... Isn't that person a coward?

    I'm not seeing a lot of heroism in modern warfare.

    •  Well, I use the word coward (40+ / 0-)

      Because whomever use chemical weapons doesn't even send his soldiers to fight.
      They hold them back and send them to mop up afterwards....

      Queror Ergo Sum. -- Rene Descartes Shakshuka

      by The Revenge of Shakshuka on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:49:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You mean like people who sit outside (58+ / 0-)

        a defended urban area and pound it with incendiaries and massive amounts of cluster munitions, then send in a "mop up" operation?

        I dunno, bro.  I used to deliver oxygen to a one lunged 11 year old who had been shitting in a bag since he was five thanks to a cluster bomb munition.

        I think the fucker who ordered that dropped on civilians was a pretty fucking cowardly.

        1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

        by JesseCW on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:19:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  or when the IDF used (21+ / 0-)

          White phosphorus in Gaza?  

          They have been using white phosphorous since 2007, the u.s. used it in the battle of Fallujah in 2005.

          •  Every time phosphorus is mentioned, I flash to (6+ / 0-)

            that picture of the little girl.   No way do I want to look at your link.

            Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

            by maybeeso in michigan on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:36:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The issue is wmd's (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              worldlotus, Sandino, elwior, artmartin, suzq

              I was trained in CBR warfare during the Vietnam War. Like most things each precedent we set for man's inhumanity to man (and woman) get's bumped up by people who think in terms of shock and awe and attrition as designed to reduce the will to fight.

              Weapons of Mass Destruction in antiquity were limited to things like armies, but they had no problem killing cities with five figures of civilians expeditiously. As recently as Falujah they still don't.

              The use of plague delivered over the walls of besieged cities full of starving people with catapults loaded with infected meat might qualify as a particularly horrendous example because its thought to have led to the black death which wiped out most of Europe int he 13th century.

              Blankets infected with smallpox may have wiped out most of the indigenous population of North America back when America was just getting started.

              In the Modern sense we can go back to the Civil War and include sapping and mining battlefields, machine guns, and artillery. Gas was used in the first world war and the incendiary destruction of cities, nuclear weapons and holocaust were used in the second.

              No military weapon is particularly pleasant to be on the receiving end of. Weapon's of Mass Destruction that kill civilian populations would obviously include the bombs and incendiaries used to fire bomb Dresden and various other German and Japanese cities before we decided that nukes could wreak the same or greater damage with just a single bomb.

              People fighting to the death whether it be suicide bombers or snipers, or peasants placing punji stakes and booby traps in all the trails around their village make it pretty clear that our desire to kill each other continues unabated.

              Since then genocides like Rwanda and the cold war attempts to destabilize various parts of what were perceived as the communist sphere of influence have just continued unabated until they have wracked up more casualties than all the horror of WWI and II.

              By Vietnam napalm, and white phosphorus were in common use against civilian populations along with bombing, strafing, mines and agent orange which continue to kill for decades after a war is over.

              Big guns, drones and large bombs kill by concussion as well as shrapnel and their killing radius can easily be a hundred meters. Shock and Awe in Iraq killed innocent civilians by the hundreds of thousands in the name of a lie for which no one has ever been punished.

              In Afghanistan our allies against both the Soviets and the Taliban were bandits, drug dealers and warlords; likewise wherever our covert actions have required force extenders; our use of drugs, prisons, kidnapping, torture, and murder to weaken civilian populations has been notorious all over the planet since the days of Fenimore Cooper and his description of Rogers Rangers raids on the Abenaki of New England.

              The iron rain of plechettes that we used in the Gulf war and our ability to destroy entire armies with napalm, white phosphorus, and other clever instruments of destruction have not gone away and war has not become less horrible.

              At present our ability to contemplate the imminent death of our entire species in all the nasty little ways caused by climate change and hinted at in all the apocalyptic sci fi we have watched for the last half century ought to be considered the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, but I don't see a lot of people recognizing that yet.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:06:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It wasn't blankets, it was PEOPLE (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                White Europeans with a shit-ton of diseases and a shit-ton of immunities moving into an area inhabited by people who had neither.

                Nobody needed to do anything intentionally - the diseases WERE going to rampage out of control and WERE going to mow down the defenseless indigenous population no matter what.

                The rulers of the Inca Empire started dying of smallpox several years before the first white man set foot across their borders. That's how bad it was. That's how fast it traveled.

                IMHO "smallpox blankets" should be relegated to Conspiracy Theory territory, because for the most part it's exactly that. In almost all cases (Jeffery Amherst et al possibly though not definitely excepted), the relevant factor was accidental, unintentional exposure - not just to smallpox, but to all the white man's diseases. (It is now thought that leptospirosis is what wiped out the coastal Massachusetts natives and left the area open to colonization - or, if you prefer, invasion. And it was probably contracted via exposure to vermin escaping from the boats of white fishermen.)

                If it's
                Not your body,
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                And it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:34:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The specific incident was the seige of Fort Pitt (0+ / 0-)

                  The Siege of Fort Pitt involved the purposeful transmission of smallpox to the Delaware.

                  Officers at the besieged Fort Pitt had already exposed the Indians in just the manner Amherst and Bouquet were discussing. During a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets and a handkerchief from the smallpox ward "out of regard to them" after the Delawares pledged to renew their friendship.[3] While the exact meaning of his phrase was unclear, a later invoice appears to clearly establish the purpose was transmittal of smallpox.[4]
                  You are correct that whenever populations without immunities to diseases enter upon virgin soil, opportunistic diseases cause widespread devastation. In the Americas this must have been the case when the first populations of Paleo hunters arrived and migrated east, west and south through North and South America.

                  It was probably the case when the first Vikings arrived, may have separately transmitted North American venereal diseases back to Europe with Spanish, Portugese and French explorers and almost certainly decimated indigenous populations everywhere in the Americas.

                  From the 16th century through the early 20th century, no fewer than 93 confirmed epidemics and pandemics — all of which can be attributed to European contagions — decimated the American Indian population. Native American populations in the American Southwest plummeted by a staggering 90 percent or more.
                  I'm aware of many cases of the transmission of contagious diseases by accident
                     Bubonic plague: An often fatal bacterial disease that affects the lymphatic system and then the entire body.
                      Chicken pox: A contagious viral disease.
                      Cholera: An often fatal intestinal disease commonly caused by drinking water contaminated with the cholera bacteria.
                      Diphtheria: Often deadly infectious bacterial disease that damages the heart and nervous system.
                      Influenza: A contagious viral disease that can be deadly for people with weakened immune systems or other systemic problems.
                      Mumps: An acute contagious viral disease that causes fever and a swelling of the salivary glands and can also damage the pancreas, testes, and ovaries.
                      Pleurisy: A serious lung inflammation that is often the result of a systemic viral or bacterial disease like tuberculosis.
                      Scarlet fever: A contagious bacterial disease caused by an infection and causing fever and throat problems.
                      Smallpox: The killer — a highly contagious viral disease causing back pain, high fever, and the development of small pustules on the skin. Smallpox has a fatality rate of approximately 30 percent.
                      Typhoid fever: A bacterial infection of the digestive tract, sometimes fatal, that is caused by eating or drinking salmonella-contaminated food or water.
                      Typhus: A bacterial infection spread by ticks and fleas that causes high fever and delirium and can be fatal.
                      Whooping cough: An infectious bacterial disease that causes violent coughing and a very recognizable shrill inhalation sound.
                      Yellow fever: An often fatal viral infection spread by mosquitoes and causing liver damage, hemorrhaging, high fever, and vomiting of blood.
                  What I was referencing specifically was the intentional use of biological warfare by Europeans in the Americas following in a longstanding tradition of biological warfare in the Old World, most notably in the crusades but also in the hundred years wars.

                  Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                  by rktect on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 12:16:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There's a catch to the Fort Pitt incident (0+ / 0-)

                    in that smallpox was already on the loose in the area, so no one can be sure whether any intent to transmit it had any more effect than random casual exposure. Certainly the two chiefs to whom the questionable items were presented continued healthy.

                    There was still a lot of "magical thinking" attached to diseases, particularly smallpox, because the causative agent was unknown and would remain so for about another hundred years. The clearest illustration of this is Nathaniel Hawthorne's (apparently little-known these days) short story, "Lady Eleanore's Mantle". Lady Eleanore arrives at Boston with a fantastically embroidered mantle that was said to be the last work of a dying seamstress (strongly implied to have died of smallpox just after she finished it), and a smallpox epidemic breaks out in her wake, affecting first those who were closest to her while wearing it, then others, and finally(!) her. The epidemic ends after the mantle is ceremonially burned.

                    Hawthorne did not, could not have had clue one as to the actual transmission of the disease, and drops several hints of black magic. The mantle is "cursed", there is an attempt to break the curse by offering Lady Eleanore "holy water", and finally its destruction ends the epidemic.

                    If it's
                    Not your body,
                    Then it's
                    Not your choice
                    And it's
                    None of your damn business!

                    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:36:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  For that matter perhaps Ecuyer's wording is (0+ / 0-)

                    ambiguous because he was engaged in "magical thinking": as long as the chiefs remained friendly, the disease would spare them; but if they didn't, it would destroy them. (Didn't work, obviously.)

                    The list rather carelessly left off measles, which was another huge decimater - and we have eyewitness accounts of its devastating effects on the native Hawaiians.

                    I also note that you left out the last sentences - which were emphasized with a pointing finger:

                    But Indians dying from European diseases did not mean they were always intentionally infected. A lot of the death toll was due to just plain "biological bad luck" — immune systems that had never been exposed to European diseases and, thus, were unable to fight them off.
                    Out of the "93 confirmed epidemics and pandemics", probably 92 had no intentional human causation whatsoever. Certainly the (arguable) worst of them, the upper Great Plains epidemic of 1837-38, did not - it was all due, at the very worst, to the stupidity, greed, and pigheadedness of one riverboat captain who would not turn back or change his schedule, even though smallpox had broken out among his crew from a stop in St. Louis. (By this time inoculation and vaccination as preventive measures were known, and there were attempts to immunize the native population - with mixed success and at least one dismal failure.)

                    There is little evidence that the Norse had any epidemiological impact on the Americas, partly because they were a thrice-winnowed population themselves (Scandinavia to Iceland to Greenland to Newfoundland, with more diseases left behind on each leg) and partly because their numbers were so few and their visit(s) so short.

                    Even most of the "biological warfare" in Europe was unintentional, the result of conducting siege warfare in conditions where basic sanitation was not only not understood, it was utterly unknown. (Again, there is only one clearly documented case - the Mongol siege of the Genoese outpost of Kaffa (modern-day Feeodosia) in the Crimea in 1347. This incident is sometimes blamed for bringing the Black Death on Europe - certainly the disease followed well-established Genoese trade routes.)

                    If it's
                    Not your body,
                    Then it's
                    Not your choice
                    And it's
                    None of your damn business!

                    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:36:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  New Minas (7+ / 0-)

            The Burning of Fallouja
            White Phosphorous raining on humans.
            A war crime of the highest order.
            I was so pissed at the time, I made this piece.
            Holy crap, I`m still mad every time I see it in my archives.
            I best just shut up right now.


            I`m already against the next war.

            by Knucklehead on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:48:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What prevents us from individually signing treatys (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              that ban the use of military weapons and other WMD's on civilian populations?

              For that matter, where politicians, the mic and government agencies are clueless and just not doing their jobs, isn't it our responsibility as the owners of this country to step in and clean up the mess?

              I sometimes get the impression that all over this planet people not protected by being located somewhere near the center of large empires where they might feel relatively safe from retribution are scared to death.

              Acts of terrorism such as hijackings and suicide bombings make even those populations pretty apprehensive.

              I can remember when most Americans didn't feel like the shit was about to hit the fan.

              At a very minimum we could attempt to mediate climate change as one weapon of mass destruction we all have a vested interest in controlling.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:30:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Funny, I can't remember those times (0+ / 0-)

                "Duck and Cover", cower in the hallways, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye - wake up in the middle of the night sweating with terror at the sound of an unexpected plane overhead - endless worry over every international incident - Is this IT? Is this when they lose it and drop The Bomb?

                Some of us reached adulthood under the shadow of that terror. Some of us thought, in the fall of 1962, that we would never see another Thanksgiving, or another Christmas.

                For those who did not live through those times, no explanation is possible. For those who did, no explanation is necessary.

                If it's
                Not your body,
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                And it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:41:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  How about the people who manufacture the weapons (17+ / 0-)

          for profit and the governments which encourage the sale?

          Just last week the US government authorized the sale of 1,300 cluster bombs worth $641 million to Saudi Arabia.

      •  If there were consistency, it might be one thing (21+ / 0-)

        for us to try to defend innocent civilians from horrific death delivered by tyrants. But we're not.

        It's often -- not always, but often -- a matter of convenience. If it's horrible ways to die being delivered by one of OUR tyrants, then we're more than happy to look the other way, now aren't we? Aside from complicity in Saddam's gassing of Iranian and Iraqi Kurd civilians, lots of contemporary examples of ignoring the devil we know when they torture and murder in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

        Like that real sweetheart in Uzbekistan, who boils political opponents alive. I bet if you saw a video of people being boiled alive you would also agree it's a repulsive and terrifying way to go. But we're in no danger of bombing there.

        I'm just saying: We cannot and DO not intervene in all instances of humanitarian crises, and while we should do everything we can to push back against this, it should not involve getting sucked into a pointless war, or symbolic bombing that does little to dissuade the dictator, and risks killing more innocents.

        "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by Kombema on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:53:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Seems to be two schools of warfare (5+ / 0-)

        Pragmatic and "Humane"

        Pragmatic warfare means winning by any means. When the other side has you seriously outclassed in the volume and quality of hardware, you use whatever you have to make their life hell: "Improvised explosives, suicide bombers, punji sticks, chemical, biological and, if you can get them, nukes.

        When you are facing the most powerful military on the planet you fight for keepsies. The only thing going for you is that you have nothing to lose and they do. By the time the U.S. Army rolls into town you have already suffered years of economy-destroying embargoes, months of threats and sabre-rattling, then months of drone strikes, weeks of bombing, shelling and missile strikes, which litter the landscape with cluster bombs, white phosphorus, napalm, depleted uranium and dead children.

        (Oh, and all that shit stays around for DECADES causing birth defects, miscarriages, cancer and of course, the even popular explosive removal of lower extremities).

        By the time you see actual soldiers, you are either a husk of human being, or a hardened, soulless personification of rage and hatred who will do ANYTHING to murder these people. And you want to make their death as bloody, painful and terrifying as possible.

        Humanitarian warfare is war conducted with the least force necessary to accomplish your goal. No mines, cluster bombs, drones, terror bombings, incendiaries, or snipers. You only engage soldiers, you don't attack civilians, and your don't torture or mistreat prisoners, you know, that whole Geneva Convention thing.

        Nobody wages humanitarian war because:

        1) It doesn't look good on TV.

        2) It doesn't involve the expenditure of billions of dollars on high tech lethality that looks REALLY COOL to the war mongers safe at home, especially the war hawk politicians with defense contractor in their district who fund their election campaign to the tune of 50-100 times the average soldier's pay.

        3) The pathetic old men with shriveled genitalia who are responsible for starting these wars can't get aroused enough to screw their mistresses.

        4) The public is impatient and wants results NOW, so they can go back to their reality TV and stop having their beautiful minds disturbed by the 2-3 minutes that the media bothers to spend on coverage (that is, after the 24x7 full-cheerleader run up to the war and initial weeks of non-stop video game style violence that manages to mesmerize the masses while not showing anything disturbing (real).

        Bitter and cynical, you say. Why yes, yes I am.

    •  i have to agree to this (15+ / 0-)

      the "cowardry" argument is out of place. There was a time when knights rejected firearms because they were "cowardly". This is pretty meaningless. the diarist is completely right but the word coward falls too short. The unacceptable fact is that with NBC weapons, all distinction between combatants and noncombatants gets lost, a priori. A sniper shooting at civilians is a murderer not a soldier; and although far too often they get away with it, at least in principle they can be persecuted. (Prosecuted?) The combatant/noncombatant distinction is our protection from utter barbarity during warfare and NBC´s erase it. Cruel deeds are regularly done in wartime but they are also abhorred as such; NBC weapons make them the norm.

      •  If we signed on to the conventions on (20+ / 0-)

        cluster bombs and land mines, I might take those argument from Americans with a much smaller grain of salt.

        1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

        by JesseCW on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:20:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think anyone is saying... (13+ / 0-)

        ...chemical weapons aren't abhorrent.  I think the point some are trying to make is that all warfare is abhorrent.  Chemical weapons are scary, but their only scary to the living.  Whether they were killed by artillery shell, bayonet or Sarin the dead are still dead and they little care how it happened.  

        I think the point that was trying to be made is that we've stood around and twiddled our thumbs while 10's of thousands were killed by conventional means but now that a few thousand have been killed by other means the gloves come off? What makes those few thousand lives more important than the 10's of thousands that died before them?

        Shelling civilian populations because they don't agree with the way you are governing, or have a different ethnic background, or a different religious view are just as cowardly as gassing them.  

        The Assad regime is no more evil as a result of the gassing than they were before.  Is it our place to end it, I think that's the question many including the US government are struggling with right now.

        •  No they are no more abhorrent now (8+ / 0-)

          than before. The blood of over 100k civilian deaths is on Assad's hands after all, but he has shown the full face of his lack of humanity.

          The questions of chemical weapons are these, do we ignore it's use? Does it now become an acceptable form of warfare? Where do we stand on the escalation of deadly weapons?

          President Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons is the crossing of a line and many of our allies agree. I agree.

          I do not believe that a regime should be allowed to use them on their own people or another's without consequence because it will become the norm.

          I am uncertain on what that consequence should be or how it should be meted out. That, I believe is the debate that should be taken up with our Congress and citizens and our allies.

          "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

          by high uintas on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:57:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And how many civilians have we murdered? (10+ / 0-)

            In Iraq and Afghanistan, why don't you go tally up the people we killed, before we go around telling other people what to do? America's got far too much blood on its hands to judge anybody.

            First they came for the farm workers, and I said nothing.

            by Hannibal on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:03:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And didn't many if not most on this site... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lawrence, Hannibal

              ...sound off in protest to going to war on Iraq knowing that many civilians would pay the ultimate price for the need of our war industries need for new frontier to test newest products and future generals to test their metal in actual combat ( this being the consequence of civilian leadership decision-making where generals have little swag).  As well, how long does the US wait before taking action (boots on the ground)? How many Jews murdered before we entered WWII? What about Bosnia? I do agree war is not the answer but sometimes I think we are a victim of our collective conscience swayed by our democratic process altered by "captains of industry".  If it were only that simple...actually I think it is that simple it's just that the collective is being overcome by the individual.  Just saying/IMHO. Peace Out!

              Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

              by kalihikane on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:34:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I don't disagree (5+ / 0-)

            that there should be a consequence.  I just feels, at least to me, that we are rushing to impose consequence.  We're getting comments from Hagel and the military that we are ready to go.  We're hearing from Kerry, Biden, and the Pres. that there is no doubt the Assad regime is responsible even though UN Weapons inspectors are still on the ground and haven't concluded their investigation.  

            Then, even if it is true that the Assad regime is to blame, its just accepted that military force is the form that the consequence will take.  How much force, how focused, against whom, how much blood and treasure to make the point?

            What of the risks, will Iran make good on it's threats, will Russia? Whats our goal? I've heard its not regime change, so whats to stop a "punished" Assad from lashing out either through attacks on our allies or through terrorism?  Will the point be worth the future consequence?

            •  All good questions (5+ / 0-)

              This is why I said that there needs to be considerable debate about this. IMO if we do act it has to be with conscensis. I mean Congress, the Executive and our allies.

              The rest of the world needs to think very seriously about this because it just can't go without answer. This can't become an acceptable way to wage war.

              Gawd, to think that there ever can be an "acceptable" war is awful! But chemical weapons are beyond the pale.

              "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

              by high uintas on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:47:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Even when the prescribed consequences, which (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            will consist of attacks on Syrian military units or equipment, may weaken Assad and eventually may lead to these same chemical weapons coming into the hands of rebels, among which are Al Qaeda and a number of other groups who have no love for America (or Israel)?

            I do not believe that a regime should be allowed to use them on their own people or another's without consequence because it will become the norm.

            I am uncertain on what that consequence should be or how it should be meted out. That, I believe is the debate that should be taken up with our Congress and citizens and our allies.

            I would hope we'd at least wait for the UN inspectors' reports and some sort of relative certainty about the situation. Instead, the USA is moving destroyers into position and Cameron is calling Parliament into session.  It appears everyone's mind is made up, regardless of the UN inspectors.

            Doesn't that sound familiar?

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:40:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  that's the key bit right there (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, jds1978, True North, linkage, kyril

        chemical weapons have no ability to be targeted at combatants only.  Nearly every other weapon has at least some ability to be targeted and directed only towards combatants to some degree.

        That's why the "red line" it isn't arbitrary.  You can disagree with the ultimate response/decision, but there's legitimacy to the fact that a line has been crossed, the question is what's the proper response to that, which is a fair argument reasonable folks can have.

        But to see progressives say chemical weapons, mind-boggling to me.

        •  Yes, they do. If you hit a column in the open (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taonow, Hannibal, caul, tardis10

          you can target them to the exclusion of civilians.

          It's not like many civilians were killed with them in WWI.

          1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

          by JesseCW on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:09:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There were civilian deaths (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jds1978, Lawrence, kyril

            in towns and villages and they had little or no warning. Wiki's page right here references the official numbers and the speculation that there were many more. Just scroll down to British casualties, it is just below it.

            I recommend people read what those who treated the victims had to say, it is enlightening.

            "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

            by high uintas on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 05:03:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  These battles (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are not fought outside civilian populations in entrenched battlefields. Just the opposite--they are moving from neighborhood to neighborhood among people who have nowhere else to go. Assad is deliberately targeting civilians who support the militias just like the militias are targeting civilians who support Assad. The point is to slaughter as many "troublesome" people as possible so they are no longer a threat.

          •  really? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ok then everyone who's ever said chemical weapons are indiscriminate and a war crime are wrong and you are right because all we have to do is get the enemy out in an open area away from all civilians (and of course no wind...or water table).

            Brilliant commentary.

    •  "Modern Warfare" (16+ / 0-)

      The old have never been at the forefront of the charge. That isn't a modern idea at all.

      The idea of chemical warfare is also very old. Poisons are ancient. Early science produced all kinds of neat discoveries which the military minded would figure out how to use in politics and conquest.

      In the middle ages there are examples of armies lobbing infected corpses over city walls or into the water supply while besieging a city. This is old shit.

      I'm a U.S. Air Force Vet, and my MOS included the responsibility of setting up and running NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) decon facilities at 'wartime' field hospitals. We were trained to recognize what different chemical wounds looked like. We had to calculate zones and plumes of contamination and report them to the local commander.  I then did chemistry for several years after my enlistment was up... hazardous waste analysis and 21e 'Superfund' cleanup projects.

      The idea of what the BC stuff of NBC could do seriously scared me. The original diarist said much the same thing. Others have said things where similar.

      Notice a pattern? I do. Fear. Not what you know, what you don't.

      Soldiers with rifles? You know it.
      Tanks? You know it.
      Artillery? You know it.
      Aircraft? You know it.

      Fog? A funny smell? You aren't going to know it.

      If you think it might be around, you jump at every little smell or puff of smoke. Then you watch to see if people around you start to crumple like dolls.

      I get that all death is tragic. Those deaths don't count more or less because of how it was done. Did you kill them? Sure you did.. did you terrorize them first?

      Chemical and biological weapons are weapons of terror. That is the difference I see.

      I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that his justice cannot sleep forever. - Thomas Jefferson

      by MightyMoose on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 03:29:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How about drone attacks? (14+ / 0-)

      Killing someone with a robot while safe and comfortable on another continent?  How about nuclear ICBM's? Yes, any of those weapons are likely to be perceived differently than other weapons. And, notably, the US is prepared to use all of them.

      Kos' point was that murdering civilians made Syria guilty of a war crime. How they were murdered was a noteworthy detail, surely, but didn't change the fact that it was a war crime. Assad was already on the wrong side of the war crime bridge when the US said that it was morally obligated to take action because, allegedly, he also used CW. There's no question that government forces fired on civilians, but the US didn't consider that worthy of intervention. There's no certainty that government forces used CW, but the US considers that a "red line." This suggests that the "red line" is arbitrary and capricious, and that suggests that the US isn't acting out of moral outrage but with some other motive that it hasn't revealed.

      •  Exactly my thoughts as well (7+ / 0-)

        I think that the author of this diary is agreeing with a point I made earlier, that chemical weapons are less of a threat to trained and properly equipped soldiers than they are to citizens.

        Killing civilians is almost always at least as easy as killing soldiers. To declare that we're mostly fine with Assad killing literally tens of thousands of citizens, but that we really take umbrage when he decides to do it via chemical weapons, seems like an arbitrary line for us to base our entry to yet another war on.

        •  The rebels, of course, are not properly trained (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Harm

          and equipped, which is probably the reason these weapons were used in Syria. There's no excuse for ever using these weapons, but lots of arguments and assumptions are made based on things which are not known for certain.

          For all we know, the use of Sarin was decided by a field commander when he thought there was a sizable group of rebels he could hit and take out relatively simply.  

          Then how it got into the civilian population or whatever actually ended up happening, may not have been the intention at all.

          All I am saying is:  We simply don't know anything about this, really.  Yes, it appears people - civilians - were poisoned and killed by Sarin.  

          Who made the decisions, whether civilians were deliberately or accidentally targeted, etc, etc, ... we really don't know.

          When anyone relies on "US intelligence" in this regard, I keep thinking of Boston and how the US intelligence community couldn't figure out what those two were up to even when given their names - twice!  

          And we're supposed to think the first glance by US intelligence about Syria is right?  It's almost a silly assumption.  (And not to mention the source of the signals interception...)

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:48:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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