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Poison Gas and Syria

A poison gas attack using gas cylinders in Wor...

A poison gas attack using gas cylinders in World War I. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I toured the National Museum of World War One in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a grim reminder that poison gas was first used in the conflict to break the trench warfare stalemate.

This link to Wiki shows the interesting and tragic use of poison gas during that war and what it meant in its aftermath.

Revulsion to the use of chemical weapons led to a treaty whereby most nations agreed to not use poison gas in a future conflict. Nations could stock pile chemical weapons however and most did.

By the time of the Second World War all the major belligerents had vast stock piles of chemical weapons (see Wiki link) but only the Japanese are reported to having used one in China. On the other hand, Britain was prepared to use theirs should the Germans follow through with the invasion of Britain following France’s defeat in 1940. The US was also prepared to use chemical weapons for the invasion of Japan presumably on the basis the US eventually used the Atom Bomb on Japan. The rational being that Japan was fanatical and would not surrender conventionally and the use of the weapons would save American lives.

Today the major powers still have access to stockpiles of chemical weapons as well as nuclear options all classified as weapons of mass destruction.

The American rationale (and the British and French) for militarily striking Syria is the accusation that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, the Syrian rebels whoever they might be. The justification for such a strike seems to be an international law that forbids the use of such weapons.

The problems with the proposed strike are legion not the least of being how does a left-wing, peacenik, anti-war activist, President, suddenly find the select moral outrage to be the enforcer of international law? It does not add up and most thinking people know it.

Secondly, who is suppose the enforcer of international law? The UN?

Well, the UN Security Council has said no, led by Russia and China who argue that the necessary proof has not been gathered. Frankly, I doubt it would matter to those two countries in any case but that’s another story.

I could go on and on but it’s the moral argument that intrigues me.

I do not understand the convoluted logic that says chemical weapons used to kill many people is somehow more immoral than using machine guns to kill many people.

I realize that some try to make a distinction between combatant and non-combatant and poison gas usually targets both while presumably machine guns are more selective, at least in theory.

The theory breaks down rather quickly in a war.

For example, the fire bombing raids that destroyed Hamburg and Dresden in Germany and Tokyo in Japan. True, no chemical weapons were used but hundreds of thousands of non-combatants were no less dead by fire. It was just a little ironic too since the West likes to think it always has the moral high ground when in fact every nation is quite morally selective on fighting a moral war.

I have genuine sympathy for the Syrian Christians and the Syrians not motivated by Islamic fanaticism. I had sympathy for them when Assad was “just” using tanks, artillery, airplanes, helicopters and machine guns to crush them. Dead is dead no matter how you get there.

But that is not to say I am for the US enforcing something that no one else is interested in enforcing especially the useless UN.

War is hell said William Tecumseh Sherman who was simply stating the obvious. Deciding to go to war should involve more than feigned moral outrage that some faction may or may not have used poison gas.

And that’s the way I see it. I am now going to the Samaritan’s Purse website to make a donation for the Syrian refugees fleeing the country.

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2 comments on “Poison Gas and Syria

  1. Reblogged this on Church, State, Faith and Culture and commented:

    From my History Stuff That Interests Me Blog

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