Chemical weapons bad, barrel bombs, mass executions, starvation ok?

As horrible as chemical weapons are, it does seem a bit selective to condemn them while turning a blind eye to, or aiding and abetting,  atrocities by other means in Syria.

The US, UK and French missile strikes on Syria are largely symbolic, and mask a much wider problem.

Jonathan Schanzer (Fox News): Why targeting Syria’s chemical weapons is not enough to stop rising civilian death toll

By firing 105 missiles at Syrian chemical weapons targets before dawn Saturday, the U.S., Britain and France sent a clear message to dictator Bashar Assad: they will not tolerate his regime’s use of toxic gas and other weapons of mass destruction against his own citizens.

But it seems the tripartite alliance is prepared allow Assad to keep killing Syrians on massive scale using conventional weapons. The death toll in Syria after seven years of war is more than 500,000 – and rising. The fact that these deaths did not involve chemical weapons makes them no less tragic for their victims and surviving loved ones.

It’s hard to know exactly how many of the Syrian deaths have been caused by chemical weapons. But we know they represent a relatively small percentage. The Assad regime has killed far more Syrians through crude barrel bombs, mass executions, starvation and deprivation, and in other ways.

On top of this, there have also been conventional military strikes conducted with and without the help of Assad’s allies – Iran and Russia. Both those nations have devoted significant resources to the war.

So has the United Statee. And the United Kingdom. And other countries, including Australia.

So despite the new attack announced by President Trump, the Syrian-Iranian-Russian conventional war machine that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the murders of innocent Syrians remains intact. And it is not being threatened by America and our allies.

Because they are aiding and abetting it all, as well as supplying many of the means of destruction.

The US imposed severe financial sanctions on North Korea for being a threat, but enable the atrocities in Syria to continue, albeit with a symbolic opposition of chemical weapons.

Of course, President Trump has conveyed his utter contempt for Assad and the forces backing him. He has called Assad an “animal,” and he has called out Iran and Russia as being “responsible” for backing him.

But President Trump remains ambivalent about crafting a foreign policy that would prevent those three nations from continuing their slaughter. Just last week, the president vowed to pull America’s estimated 2,000 troops out of Syria “very soon.” This announcement was certainly welcomed by Assad and his allies.

It is just a bloody (and bloodless via chemical weapons) mess, with blood on the hands of many nations.

What is needed now is a strategy that enables the United States and its allies to make it increasingly more difficult for Syria, Iran and Russia to operate on the battlefield.

Instead they chose action that has a serious risk of escalation.


  1. Gezza

     /  April 15, 2018

    The first problem the US and all the others it has sucked in to the Middle East since 2003 have is that it has no right to be there.

    The second problem it has is that it has no idea what it is doing or who it is dealing with and what the outcomes of its interventions will ultimately be.

    (It has the same problem in Afghanistan.)

    The third problem is it has created a situation where other countries have now been sucked in to ensure the US doesn’t dictate how things will be – because of the second problem.

    The fourth problem, which is related to the second problem, is that it is ultimately hated by everyone in the Middle East for constantly interfering and being the direct & indirect cause, itself, of the resulting destruction and millions of casualties, and Islamic extremist attacks in Europe.

    Which keeps bringing us back to the first problem.

  2. Geoffrey

     /  April 15, 2018

    It’s the numbers. Mass destruction for a single delivery will always grab attention. The excesses of the First World War are what gave rise to the international agreement to ban chemical and then biological and nuclear weaponry. Banning all weapons would be nice but…

    • PartisanZ

       /  April 15, 2018

      Yep, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons … so-called ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ … are the new ultimate baddies on the block, for whom international law can be disregarded and overridden by THE Superpower … supposedly ‘justifying’ this attack …

      The ONLY Superpower who has ever actually used nuclear weapons in conflict …

      “What is needed now is a strategy that enables the United States and its allies to make it increasingly more difficult for Syria, Iran and Russia to operate on the battlefield.”

      Jonathan Schanzer seems to think the only possible solution is military?

      To be expected from Fox I guess?

      It’s a massive industry, war, the largest in the world … and you’ve simply gotta have wars to keep it going …

  3. David

     /  April 15, 2018

    The UN will solve this, they are about to appoint Syria to the committee for the regulation of chemical weapons.

    • PartisanZ

       /  April 15, 2018

      The United Nations could solve this if nations united and gave them the power to do so …

      • David

         /  April 15, 2018

        You want the /UN to be a world government?

        • PartisanZ

           /  April 15, 2018

          At a national level it is obvious markets require regulation, right?

          Global markets = global ‘market’ regulation or governance …

          Transnational conflict = global ‘security’ regulation or governance …

          World government limited to global matters …

          National matters to national government … local to local … community to community …

          Heck, corporations are already doing it globally, except they are ‘governed’ by the profit motive … which is not a healthy form of governance …

          Why not the United Nations?

        • NOEL

           /  April 15, 2018

          Well there charter signed by the major players did have that in mind.

          “1.To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;”

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 15, 2018

    Two different things. Chemical weapons are banned by international agreements on warfare. Genocidal massacres of civilians are crimes against humanity that in principle can be taken to the World Court. In practice they are still just normal politics in much of the world.

    • Geoffrey

       /  April 15, 2018

      The “things” are the same and the abhorrence is the same – it is simply the process of attempting to deal with them that differs.

  5. seer

     /  April 15, 2018

    And for something resembling the truth, readers could read


    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 15, 2018

      I wonder if he’s thinking of Guernica; I can’t see any relevance of Les Demoiselles to the situation now

      • seer

         /  April 15, 2018

        Prostitutes -> presstitutes, maybe…

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 15, 2018

          Yes, but the French for prostitute is putain.

          I think that the writer was thinking of Picasso’s Guernica.

          • seer

             /  April 16, 2018

            I only get the magazine for the articles and don’t look at the pictures (even if they are of des putain)! Meaning, I’m not aware of Elijah’s reasons for choosing the particular painting he features each day. Perhaps the choice is just the whimsical sentiment of the moment of a Belgian living in the Middle East?

  6. artcroft

     /  April 15, 2018

    Good post. Chemical weapons are terrible so are all the atrocities you mention above. Why the sudden action now?

    • Because chemical weapons aren’t supplied by the self-righteous countries who launched the missile attacks that made money for arms suppliers?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 15, 2018

        Who DOES make these things ?

        ‘I’m in building supplies now. What do you do, Joe ?”

        ‘Oh, I make weapons of mass destruction.’

        • Gezza

           /  April 15, 2018

          Donald Trump had a press showing when he met the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince (the architect of their disastrous war in Yemen). I kid you not, he spent the entire event praising the guy while holding up a huge chart with pictures of the planes and helis and missiles n military equipment the Saudis are buying off them & pointing to them and telling everyone about all the great jobs the Prince has created for Americans making these.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 15, 2018

        The missile attacks that hit arms stores and laboratories in response to chemical attacks on civilians. How cynical.