Skip to main content

Markos wrote a thought provoking diary about the fact that chemical weapons are not that different than conventional weapons, since the end result is the same.

The basic cold logic of the argument is this:
Premise: Civilian death is bad.
fact:  A causes massive civilian death.
fact:  B causes massive civilian death.
Conclusion: Therefore A equals B.

While one may argue that this argument has a fallacy of incomplete comparison, since we are not given enough information about A or B -  we just measure end result.

I would like to give a contrary point of view to explain why I think the usage of chemical weapons is not equivalent to conventional weapons.

What surprised me most in Kos' diary was the fact that it was written by a former member of the unformed services. I assume that in part his training included defense against NBC weapons (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical).

I myself was also a member of a uniformed service, albeit that of a different country.
I was enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces, and my demobilization date was March 15th 1991. Why is this date important? Gulf War I. From January 1991 to March 1991 Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles. That really screwed up my discharge plans.

While the Scuds themselves did not cause major damage (actually, post war analysis concluded that the PAC missiles caused more...) the sheer terror of the population was very palpable - the fear that one of this missiles might carry a chemical warhead.

On the second week of that war my unit was mobilized to the eastern border anticipating an Iraqi invasion of Jordan. The night we moved out was the most terrifying night of my life (and I take into account nights when I was under direct mortar fire).

It was not the huge volume of ammo that we took out of the warehouse. It was not the brand new .50's we put on our APCs.  It was not the massive convoy of vehicles that was more than a mile long with sleep deprived people running around making sure everything is ready.
The most memorable moment (to me)  was when they started distributing the vacuum sealed plastic bags through which you could see the green color of the hazmat suits.

Until then, during training we used, well, used hazmat suits and gas masks. Sometimes you could still smell the sweat of the previous soldier who used it. They were never vacuum sealed and they were in terrible shape (holes, tears, you name it). But that was training. The worst we trained with was CS gas. Other than wanting to gauge your eyes out and salivating like a mad dog it was pretty harmless.
 So when you get your own shiny suit and a new shiny mask with the filter still capped, you know this shit is for real.

Now, for most of us the idea of a death from a conventional weapon is that it is quite fast. You get a bullet to the head, shrapnel rips through the guts, a ricochet slices  a major artery. Losing blood, losing consciences, sleep  and death.
Of course, as anybody who had to hear a friend screaming for a medic knows, this image is bullshit. No death is sterile and clean.

This being said, as part of our training in chemical warfare we were forced to watch old films (mostly American) depicting chemical weapons experiments and their effects on animals. I don't think any one in my platoon could hold his food down after seeing this. It was horrifying. It was pure terror. They wanted to scare the bejesus out of us.
They were magnificently successful in this endeavor.
In discussions afterwards we all agreed that a bullet to the head is 1000 times better way to go than to be exposed to VX or Sarin.

So you understand why I almost pissed in my pants when I was handed this nice green suit and shiny black mask on that night. This was not an exercise anymore. This shit is for real and I might be on the receiving end of a little bomblet, filled with odorless, colorless, (literally) gut churning gas.

Well, that was only the beginning. We were deployed and our position was on one of the mountains facing Jordan. We had a great view of the coastal plane of Israel. One of these lights flickering in the night was my home, where my parents and siblings lived.

Almost every night we saw a Scud missile warhead falling, you would see the two patriots missiles rushing to meet the threat, you would see them missing completely and then the big explosion of the Scud's 500kg warhead followed by two more explosions as the patriots came back down.

The absurd was that a big explosion was a good thing. It means it was a conventional warhead. When a chemical warhead falls all you hear is a thud and that's it. Big explosion meant that I could "sleep well" knowing no chemical attack took place.
After all 500kg bomb levels a building, two at most. Chemical warhead? A whole different ball park.
I then looked at my nice new suit and my shiny new black gas mask and realized that my family back home did not have them.
Sure, they had  gas masks, but in order to be protected from the gas they were told to put plastic sheets on the windows and damp cloth underneath the door. That was the extent of the protection awarded to them - in other words they were completely exposed. this put my little fears in perspective real fast. It was not me I was worried about anymore. It was about my parents, brothers and sister and even that dumb one-eyed cat who believed he could fly.

So what is my point in this little personal story? Chemical weapons are not like conventional weapons.

Yes, they both kill people and both kill civilians.

But there is a major difference- Today armies are well equipped to protect their soldiers against chemical weapons. Soldiers get the newest hazmat suits and the best gas masks, for the simple reason that the army will do its utmost to make sure they continue fighting effectively. If you are well equipped, your chances of surviving gas attack are actually pretty high. Doesn't negate the psychological effects and the discomfort (try running with full gear wearing a suit and berating through a filter) , but still - if you have access to the right stuff you'll be fine.

Civilians on the other hand have no way to protect themselves against this. They will be lucky to even know what hit them (remember, no explosion - just a thud).
They cannot find sanctuary from this. If with conventional weapon you can at least try to get to some shelter. you can try to avoid the alley where snipers are taking shots. You hear the planes and you run into a ditch.

With that quiet hiss of the gas there is no shelter for you. Run away and the gas will get you. Go down the stairs to a basement and the gas will only find you quicker.

In short - chemical weapons are the weapons of a coward: Their target is almost exclusively civilians who do not have the means to protect themselves - and the coward knows it.
No military strategist thinks that Chemical weapons have serious tactical effect on the battlefield, but it is the method of choice to terrorize a whole populations in a very short time.

So Markos, I respectfully disagree with you on the difference between usage of Chemical weapons and Conventional weapons. That is not to say I disagree with you on the need to intervene in the current crisis.


1:40 PM PT: This is not a diary as what we should or shouldn't do in Syria. The issue is slightly more complicated than yes or no. One can argue that CW are horrific and their usage is different than conventional weapons and still oppose any intervention in the Syrian civil war (as I do).
This diary  is just to counter the argument of equivalency between conventional and chemical weapons.

P.S. Thanks for the Rec. List. Wherever you stand on the issue and whatever your  personal opinion on Syria is, I'm sure we can all agree that war is hell and one civilian death is one death too many.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (367+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Drobin, swampyankee, Remembering Jello, erratic, TomP, Kimbeaux, Darwinian Detrius, sarvanan17, JeremySchro, Bach50b3, Radiowalla, Banana Republicans, SoCalSal, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, jiffypop, FG, OLinda, Lefty Coaster, BachFan, dfe, NYFM, citisven, Magster, citizenx, Cassandra Waites, MBNYC, blueyedace2, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, Matt Z, Timari, Empty Vessel, SixSixSix, wmtriallawyer, guyeda, surfbird007, CharlieHipHop, Patrick is Lucky, Kasoru, Crazycab214, erush1345, Wordsinthewind, TooFolkGR, serendipityisabitch, doroma, InAntalya, Front Toward Enemy, MKinTN, MRA NY, bfitzinAR, DEMonrat ankle biter, delphine, AgavePup, Gareth, TokenLiberal, tytalus, Inland, Frank In WA, emeraldmaiden, Powered Grace, Anne was here, Sylv, Greasy Grant, Dallasdoc, rbird, Lawrence, Hey338Too, leonard145b, Yoshimi, Roadbed Guy, Catte Nappe, ruscle, Deep Texan, dsb, gulfgal98, annan, elmo, political mutt, flevitan, TheOrchid, puakev, CDH in Brooklyn, Sir Roderick, highacidity, Texknight, Kentucky Kid, Aspe4, mikidee, gramofsam1, dannyboy1, Agathena, gchaucer2, legendmn, 57andFemale, oldliberal, Edge PA, WFBMM, scyellowdogdem, estamm, SottoVoce, wader, marathon, JPhurst, CTDemoFarmer, blackjackal, Wee Mama, PsychoSavannah, CenPhx, kacemo, joe from Lowell, sviscusi, joedemocrat, Xkeeper, Pithy Cherub, ladybug53, bkamr, trumpeter, edwardssl, Kysen, Lisa Lockwood, Simplify, mettle fatigue, GreenPA, Fonsia, DeadHead, 3goldens, raptavio, polecat, Witgren, Blue Dream, Tchrldy, smokeymonkey, thestructureguy, IreGyre, rlharry, Tod, Gay CA Democrat, J V Calin, WisePiper, Mighty Ike, Missys Brother, Lying eyes, musicsleuth, weatherdude, ten canvassers, LynChi, MJ via Chicago, adamsrb, mbayrob, p gorden lippy, gzodik, Egg, Dr Swig Mcjigger, badscience, churchylafemme, ER Doc, chicagobleu, Chrislove, PinHole, Lost Left Coaster, oldmanriver, LaughingPlanet, SpecialKinFlag, LaFeminista, Hatrax, Laughing Vergil, scott5js, pileta, cyberpuggy, kishik, offgrid, Deep Harm, kpardue, jan4insight, lavorare, Buckeye Nut Schell, Lindy, Heart of the Rockies, harrylimelives, Brainwrap, BrowniesAreGood, peteri2, newinfluence, eagleray, begone, Progressive Pen, smokem2271, Ageing Hippie, cville townie, linkage, GeorgeXVIII, AnnetteK, Bluesee, CJB, AJ in Camden, bluesheep, kj in missouri, Metalgirl, hangingchad, OldSoldier99, chira2, bmaples, Cedwyn, terabytes, Texdude, freeport beach PA, middleagedhousewife, MrJayTee, NoFortunateSon, missLotus, samanthab, Turn Left, high uintas, Hammerhand, Navy Vet Terp, kwong, boran2, psnyder, toom, AmazingBlaise, Mimikatz, Mark Mywurtz, JekyllnHyde, mrsgoo, Rex Freedom, blue aardvark, Curt Matlock, MadGeorgiaDem, tapestry, third Party please, snazzzybird, Meteor Blades, brentbent, xaxnar, Mets102, pamelabrown, LeftieIndie, KayCeSF, TheMeansAreTheEnd, cpresley, Actbriniel, Tackle, drdana, CenFlaDem, Smoh, Debs2, Therapy, willynel, AuntieRa, nancyjones, lizzibetts, maybeeso in michigan, Alice Olson, northcountry21st, BadKitties, Adam AZ, ferment, ozsea1, TX Freethinker, oceanrain, Seeds, Spider Jerusalem, some other george, alpaca farmer, True North, crose, Fe, smoothnmellow, notrouble, sceptical observer, Rhysling, night cat, pcl07, 42, ridemybike, auron renouille, countwebb, AaronInSanDiego, vcmvo2, CA Nana, LinSea, Lady Libertine, bronte17, ATFILLINOIS, Joieau, truthhurtsaz, dotsright, Timroff, seriously70, praying manatheist, arabian, kerflooey, zapus, ord avg guy, USHomeopath, wonmug, kmfmstar, justintime, Oh Mary Oh, edsbrooklyn, Militarytracy, vigilant meerkat, Rick Aucoin, virginwoolf, dreamweaver1, JR, nicolemm, Just Bob, Knucklehead, 417els, vivadissent, Subterranean, golem, Not A Bot, Jeffersonian Democrat, stevenaxelrod, worldlotus, qm1pooh, Habitat Vic, WakeUpNeo, mofembot, JBL55, mr crabby, cslewis, jasan, donaurora, Kathy S, elwior, Robynhood too, mungley, leftywright, SaoMagnifico, DefendOurConstitution, Lilith, hooper, kyril, bwintx, artmartin, Siri, pasadena beggar, Yasuragi, brillig, earicicle, Empower Ink, HeyMikey, Rosaura, BleacherBum153, suzq, appledown, twigg, LiberalCanuck, birdbrain64, slowbutsure, sawgrass727, JayC, Senor Unoball, EclecticCrafter, eztempo, annecros, jonathan94002, gof, ItsaMathJoke, La Gitane, condorcet, rmonroe, sydneyluv, louisev, Heart n Mind

    Queror Ergo Sum. -- Rene Descartes Shakshuka

    by The Revenge of Shakshuka on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:21:35 AM PDT

  •  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 ]

  •  Good post. Very civil and well argued. (104+ / 0-)

    Between Kos' post and yours, there is much to think about.  This is so much better than unanimity on an issue.  People can learn, conssider, and decide.  

    The best of Dkos deabtes is when alla spects and argument are aired, and not when one side shuts down all other arguments.  

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:37:48 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (42+ / 0-)

      One in a while I stand backwards in front of a mirror just to make sure that the sun still doesn't shine out of my...

      I can definitely see the validity in Kos argument, and the discussion is definitely needed.
       However for me, the memory of that one night and the emotions it evoked in me makes the issue of conventional weapons very visceral for me.

      Queror Ergo Sum. -- Rene Descartes Shakshuka

      by The Revenge of Shakshuka on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:45:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  War is awful and almost always wrong (19+ / 0-)

        There is no "right" side of this argument, because it's about the most immoral and heinous of human activities.

        I come down on the side of ths diarist, however.  Some rules limiting what can be done in war are useful, even if people still die in colossal numbers.  War would not be the same if indiscriminate chemical weapons were used, just as it would not if "tactical" nuclear weapons were used -- a favorite argument of Cold Warriors in the 1970's and 80's.  The level of barbarism in war can always be worse than it is, and will be.  But it is useful to hold some lines, to slow the exponential growth of barbarity.

        Saddam was not punished for Halabjah, but this does not mean use of chemical weapons should not be punished -- especially when a regime uses them against its own population.  We should strike at Assad's regime for our own protection, to reduce the risk of living in a world where use of chemical weapons is normalized.  That would be worse than the world we live in now.

        We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

        by Dallasdoc on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:10:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (9+ / 0-)

          With you on intervention (for tons of reasons unrelated to the question of chemical weapons), but agree completely with the rest of what you say.

          There are many awful weapons, some as awful as chemical.  I dream of the day when those weapons will be banned as well.  In the meantime, we must recognize that there is something worse than ordinary war--and where we actually have world agreement that it is worse...we should not minimize chemical warfare.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:23:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Anybody point out that "the US" was complicit and (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          crose, sillycarrot, Sandino, caul, worldlotus

          involved, along with our Continental allies, in arming and abetting Saddam in gassing Iranians and his own Kurds?

          And then there's this:

          It also appears that the US blocked a UN inquiry into that Saddam-and-the-gas thing...

          I'm a Vietnam vet who did the CBR (chemical, biological, radiological) training in 1966. We had masks that were ok against riot gas, not so much with blister or nerve agents, a shelter half or poncho to pull over ourselves, and an atropine syrette to stab ourselves in the thigh with in the hope it would counteract the neurotoxins that we were told by jaded, cynical NCOs would kill us anyway if even an infinitesimal drop got on our skin or up our nose. And the Soviets were reported to have provided such weapons to Ho Chi Minh. Advice from the Army? if there's an attack and you smell something stranger than usual, bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.

          The new gear? Any idea what it is like to wear a rubber suit in 107 degree weather? And decontamination is how effective, again? Whatever the field manuals say?

          Meantime, we sprayed Agents Orange, Yellow, Red White and Blue all over the place, including all over our own Sacred Troops, myself included, and that CHEMICAL WEAPON was and is still laden with chlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans that have all kinds of toxic effects, including carcinogenicity, teratogenicity and now the VA recognizes "presumptive horrific illnesses" from AO exposure.  And "we" used CS to kill "gooks" in tunnels. And now I know this is supposed to be about the horrific experience of learning one's vulnerability to chemical weapons (meanwhile eating foodstuffs laden with other toxins and feeding them to our kids). But this is a seamless question, and for "us" to continue doing what "we" already plan to do, for very much other reasons that High Moral Truths and that are just Great Game, combusto-consumption and mindless-military foolishness, is just too freakin' stupid bad. For us and for our children. Blasting Assad or some odd set of of "his" assets with "our" Tomahawks is just more stupid, stacked and squared...

          I'm nailed for not going along with the meme, but this is all of a piece: "we" have no moral right here, and how the hell are "we," all us humans, going to back away from the brink of self-destruction by stupidity? Too bad "we" are so bloody greedy and careerist and profit-driven that "we" can't figure out some better way to interact and do things...

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:57:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The worst side effect of intervention to hurt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, Lawrence

          Assad is the possibility that our own intervention makes it easier for the many various warring (amongst themselves too) rebel groups to get ahold of these chemical weapons and spread them around the world.

          And I don't doubt the rebels would be perfectly happy firing them at Assad's troops.  

          Among the rebels, some would love to fire them at Israel or any number of other targets.  Since they apparently are simply a type of mortar shells, what if some get lobbed into a compound in Afghanistan?

          The use of these weapons should not be without consequences, but we should not do anything which even slightly increases the chances of them falling into uncontrolled hands.

          "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 10:53:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  How many times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        will the US rush to bomb shit just because some screams WMD and shows a dead child?

    •  Agreed - helpful post. (10+ / 0-)

      I've read most of the comments in Kos' post and there are strong pro and con currents without the tone becoming inflamed like a lot of our pie wars here.

      And I disagreed with Kos that there is no distinction between death by conventional warfare and death by chemical warfare.

      It takes time to practice generosity, but being generous is the best use of our time. - Thich Nhat Hanh.

      by Frank In WA on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:02:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am learning way more about Chem Weapons (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, worldlotus, Lawrence, Lilith, TomP

      than I ever wanted to. Ugh. I still wanna wash my hands of this and not do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g in Syria but I can increasingly see why others may disagree.

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 05:43:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. I couldn't agree with Kos neither (18+ / 0-)

    I think it is a positive thing that we have some restrictions on the conduct of war. As humankind progress, there should be less and less need for violence, and the violence practiced should be less and less cruel.

  •  There are other CW's being used against civilians (8+ / 0-)
    chemical weapons are the weapons of a coward
    Do you remember Rain of Fire not so long ago?
  •  thanks for painting this graphic picture. (14+ / 0-)

    although it's disturbing, those of us who have not been in the military need to hear this.

    Tikkun olam. Repair the world.

    by sarvanan17 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:44:06 AM PDT

  •  I Played in Band Alongside WW1 Trench Veteran (37+ / 0-)

    from Scotland. He watched green Yank troops getting gassed, and after immigrating here he had a supervisor who terrible coughing fits several times a day and died relatively young.

    Boomers are old enough for many of us to have known WW1 vets and heard some of these stories.

    Even though we didn't hear them until after the vets had the added perspective of WW2, those that shared with me did not agree with Markos.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:45:14 AM PDT

  •  Are chemical weapons worse than . . . (32+ / 0-)

    Nuclear weapons?

    Are they worse than indiscriminate high level bombing?  e.g., we dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did on Germany and Japan combined? 6,000,000 total civilian casualties in SE Asia.

    Not to mention the millions of bomb craters created nightmarish stagnant pools where malarial mosqujitoes bred.

    Are they worse than - say - Agent Orange? - which we indiscriminately sprayed over millions of acres - Vietnamese children are still being born with birth defects as a result.

    The idea the United States - which caused the deaths of 1,000,000 or so Iraqi civilians in our invasion - and at least partially contributed to the 1,000,000 casualties in the Iraq/Iran War, in which we provided precursor chemicals for Saddam Hussein's poison gas AND provided him with intel about where to use the poison gas - can claim MORAL HIGH GROUND is beyond absurd and well into the disgusting zone.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:48:07 AM PDT

  •  I don't disagree with Markos respectfully! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wouldn't know why. Respect for what exactly?

    Civil Men Are For Civil Rights

    by mimi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:58:10 AM PDT

    •  I think I got mangled up with my double negatives (13+ / 0-)

      So, let me be clear, I have no repsect for Markos diary. And I won't say why, because it's against the rules of this site.

      But he is dead wrong to think it is not important HOW someone dies. Death might be death, but one way of dying is not the same as another way of dying. That this is not clear in his mind, is more than amazing and scary to me.

      And I wonder why he felt it necessary to write this diary. So that he can get some justifications for his thinking that might not quite suit his moral compass?

      Civil Men Are For Civil Rights

      by mimi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:05:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, you needed to say that :) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MRA NY, hester, saluda

        it wasnt quite clear in the first one :)

      •  You're fine mimi. I said in wmtriallawyer's (13+ / 0-)

        diary, that it was kos' worst diary ever, and I really feel that way.  There are many reasons, but the fact is I also knew kos was in the army, so that makes it all the more bad.  Revenge of Shakshuka has nailed why.  And I'll also say I can't even bring myself to watch any of the YouTube videos from Syria. I just can't.  It's enough for me just to know that it happened.  More than enough.

        •  Kos is not at his best when he is flippant (10+ / 0-)

          about a serious topic. The killed military contractors in Iraq is one of those diaries.

          •  Yeah (4+ / 0-)

            that one was even worse than this one.

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

            by high uintas on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 05:27:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ha! But I backed him completely on (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            YucatanMan, NYFM

            That one because my husband had just returned from the Sunni triangle and the contractors answered to no one.  They were lawless, and inspiring everyone to kill or be killed.

            I still back Kos on what he said about them to this day and my opinion did not change until contractors came under the power and authority of commanders and the UCMJ.

            "Women's Studies" Bahahahahaha!....not so much.  But he is a man, I can only expect so much :)

            •  People who "have been there" understand (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              on a different level than armchair speculators.

              People take something as "flippant," when it may actually be informed far beyond their insufficient experience.

              "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 10:59:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "Fck em" to anyone who has just died is (0+ / 0-)

                pretty much against anything this site is about. That is what was flippant.

                •  Many have a certain opinion of 'contractors', (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  known in other times as mercenaries. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but the opinion and attitude about mercenaries is long standing, particularly in some military families.

                  Having a good number of military members in my family, I've heard this before and there are strongly held feelings about such folks. With a cousin as current Navy Commander... well, I hear about these things. Others fought in Korea and Vietnam. I've heard about these things.

                  Kos' remarks do not surprise me at all. It is frequently believed that mercenaries endanger everyone with their lack of accountability, lack of behavior according to the norms of even war-making military members, and frequently their brutality. I don't have a high opinion of mercenaries myself.

                  I'm happy to be criticized for failing to mourn people who have been killing innocent people for no reason other than their personal enjoyment and satisfaction.

                  "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 Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 12:12:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  And my husband is in the Army right now (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          virginwoolf, YucatanMan, NYFM

          Has been for over 20 years now.  And he says that a new global tolerance for the use of chemical weapons cannot be set.  I feel the same way.

          I want my President to call Congress back though to debate this.  He is still free to pull the trigger on emergency actions.  We must have debate!

      •  Plus, Kos inadvertently borrowed the idea... (11+ / 0-)

        ...from the guy who invented chemical warfare, Fritz Haber.

        "Death is death, no matter how it is inflicted."
        That was Haber's excuse.  

        Haber's wife committed suicide in protest over her husband's creation of chemical weapons.  The day after her suicide, he left for the Eastern Front, to supervise another poison gas attack.

        Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

        by rbird on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:24:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh, the bio of Fritz Haber is even more (5+ / 0-)

          mind boggling than that. Sigh. I just read this here: Der Mann, der den Gaskrieg initierte, but I can't translate it.

          Civil Men Are For Civil Rights

          by mimi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:54:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Talk about a man spanning the entire range of... (5+ / 0-)

            good and evil!  He creates a way to feed millions of people, yet goes to the dark side with chemical weapons.

            Here's an old Smithsonian article on the man:

            Thanks for the link to the German article. I'll use Google Translate on it shortly.

            Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

            by rbird on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:14:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh, there are many articles, that was just the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              first one in German (from Switzerland) I ran into. The name was known to me as a Chemist from the Haber-Bosch Process, but I was not aware of his role as initiator of the first massive usage of chemical weapons...

              His life was in a way tragic, as he was German, Jewish born, switched over to Christianity and became very nationalistic during WWI. His first wife was one of the first Chemists in Germany and killed herself over the dispute she had with him with regards to his role in overseeing the first mass usage of chlorine gas in one of the battles in 1915. She was Jewish born and also converted to Christianity. They had one son, who emigrated to the US in WWII, where he killed himself over the shame he felt for his father being involved in chemical gas warfare.

              Faber himself  had to leave Germany in 1933 being Jewish. His whole family (his second wife and the two children he had with her) went to England, where he  himself died after a year.

              A lot of tragedy in that family.  

              Civil Men Are For Civil Rights

              by mimi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 08:54:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Allow me to toss my 2 cents in (48+ / 0-)

    CW are also one of the only weapons that we as a species have managed to declare beyond the pale. The use of any weapons against civilians is disgusting, the use of CW period is illegal. If removing classes of weapons is a valid goal towards preventing conflicts, then we should recognize the progress that we've made and act to prevent backsliding.

    It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

    by Solarian on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:58:25 AM PDT

    •  this is the best argument I've read on the topic. (9+ / 0-)

      Generally I'm in the killing=killing camp. But you're right that it's a good thing to have made at least one type of mass-killing against international law.

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:55:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's because CW's are easy to make (4+ / 0-)

        The reason CW's are outlawed as opposed to other more modern types of weapons of mass fatalities, is that those weapons belong to a fairly exclusive club. Anyone can make sarin or mustard gas, but not everyone can make a nuke, or a laser guided missile. It's not that CW's are more horrible than other weapons of mass fatalities, it's just that those who possess these other weapons want to maintain their military advantage.

        I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

        by jhecht on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:28:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have to disagree with your understanding of this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Chemical weapons were declared illegal for use after WW1. As far as a "military advantage" there isn't one. These weapons aren't helpful in a military roll. Syria has a large stockpile to maintain a strategic counter to the nukes that everyone knows Israel has. As a warfighting weapon, they constrain troops in bulky hot and uncomfortable suits. They disperse over a large area and are LESS discriminate than cluster weapons. And their use is illegal.

          This isn't about the man keeping those poor poor countries down, don't try to frame it like that.

          It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

          by Solarian on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 07:01:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)

      The "we lack moral authority" trolls in these diaries should read your post.

  •  It's okay if our military (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell, ten canvassers

    is attacked by chemical weapons I guess.

    Be sure when your sons & daughters join the military that you tell them - the country no longer takes a stand on chemical weapons.

    It's open season on you now. Because ... we can't over our mistakes here in America. The bitterness lingers and lingers.

    So now if so and so did it in the past, we can surely do it now. And because a president who was not President Obama dropped bombs in Japan, etc.

  •  How do you think the kids in the refugee (8+ / 0-)

    camp feel when the White Phosphorus rains down?

    Do you think it's way, way different than the way people who think that a warhead might have a chemical warhead feel?

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

    by JesseCW on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:15:16 PM PDT

  •  There's a run in Israel right now (17+ / 0-)

    on gas masks. Thinking being that if Assad uses these weapons on his own people, how likely is he to spare the Zionist enemy (or whatever the verbiage is)?

    My friends in TLV are freaking out.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:21:47 PM PDT

    •  As has been the case for decades (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, Kevskos, highacidity, jds1978, Kickemout

      deterrence is perhaps Israel's greatest "weapon". I.e. you hit Israel beyond a certain point, and you're going to regret it, big time. I've no doubt that Israel has a kill list of regional leaders and the ability to implement it.

      Plus, historically, regional countries have tended to make such threats with no intention of following through on them, to score political points at home. I see no reason for that to be different this time. Syria presents a negligible military threat to Israel, Iran's regime doesn't want to provoke a now easier to justify Israeli counterattack on its nuke facilities, and Nasrallah wants to stay alive.

      Words are often the weapon of choice in the mideast.

      •  Well, just remember Gulf War I. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kovie, Deep Texan, highacidity

        Saddam thought he'd improve his diplomatic position by hitting the Israelis. Didn't work, but the reasoning was sound.

        Assad can't do all that much damage, his forces are too degraded and have other priorities right now, Iran is a military laughingstock, but Hisb'Allah? They might think a little romp with the hated Jews could be just what the doctor ordered.

        Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

        by MBNYC on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:48:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Israel would love an opportunity (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MBNYC, Kevskos, chuckvw, polecat, Lawrence

          to take out Nasrallah and cause Hezbollah major damage. Between what's going on in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Russia and now Egypt and the rest of the mideast, the Hezbollah-Assad-Iran-Russia alliance is weaker now than it's been in decades, and Israel would love a chance to make that more so.

          As for Saddam and his scuds, he made a stupid calculation, underestimating Israel's discipline in not responding (openly, at least). I believed back then that the coalition should have taken him and his regime out, feeling that if we didn't do it then, when it would have been relatively "easy", we'd end up doing it someday, in a far less advantageous position. My prediction unfortunately came true. Ironically, I made this point to a good friend in the shadow of the WTC, a couple of years before the first attack on it, having no clue that the two would be linked a decade later (dishonestly, by BushCo, but nevertheless).

          Festering conflict left undealt with tends to bite you 10X in the end.

    •  More likely to spare Israel than before: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, Deep Texan

      after all, there's still plenty of people to gas inside Syria.

      I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

      by Inland on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:59:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unless Hezbollah has CW (very unlikely) (0+ / 0-)

      I think the most likely thing the Israeli will see is rockets from Lebanon, courtesy of Hezbollah, which actively involved in Syria on the government's side.  

      The range of the rockets has increased over the years;  I seem to remember that a couple of them got near Tel Aviv last time.  But generally, it was only a problem further north.

      I see basically no chance the Israelis would get directly involved in Syria  (it would complicate coordination between US/NATO and Arab opponents of Syria's gov't).  But air strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon could reasonably expected.

      If Hezbollah actually used CW, all bets are off.  I have no idea what would happen.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:58:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. (21+ / 0-)

    Recced for civility. We can disagree about all kinds of stuff without lighting our hair on fire. Personally, I'm closer to agreeing with you than Kos but I see the nuance in both arguments.

    Thank you!

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:25:49 PM PDT

  •  Strategic interest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbird, HCKAD, caul

    Yes, the use of chemical weapons are horrific, but I do not understanding how it is in the strategic interest of the United States to become involve and attack Syria over the use of them by combatants there.

    •  I'm guessing that the use of chemical weapons (10+ / 0-)

      crosses a legal, not moral, red line, in terms of international law, especially if clearly targeting civilians, that requires a response, also under international law. Obviously, the Assad regime crossed a moral red line years ago.

      However, I don't understand why the US would have to go this alone.

    •  Well This Particuar Diary (10+ / 0-)

      Does not appear to be making any attempt to justify intervention in Syria, in fact it explicitly says:

      That is not to say I disagree with you on the need to intervene in the current crisis.
    •  War Crimes Tribunal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CenPhx, drmah, Johnny Nucleo

      Gather evidence, gather supporters for the tribunal.  If it takes ten years to bring the guilty to justice, then we wait.

      Assad and the senior commanders who may have ordered the attack are deep underground somewhere, far from where American weapons can touch them.

      Someday, at least a few of those who are responsible will surface.  Nothing lasts forever, even political power, even dictatorial regimes.  Then, let justice be served.

      It serves no one's interests by blowing up ordinary soldiers and government buildings.  I hope we pass up the temptation to do the easy thing.

      Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:36:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Allowing chemical warfare to happen with impunity (4+ / 0-)

      will cause it to spread, undo the existing international norm, and cause chemical warfare to once again emerge as a feature of modern war, and of security policy.

      It is very much in the interest of the United States to avoid that.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:23:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This (3+ / 0-)

        WE NEED to stand up when there is no one else with the authority and history to not ignore things like breaking penultimate/antepenultimate steps toward full-on nuclear bombs being dropped.  Wide-scale chemical weapons use is one of those things we must not allow humans to find tolerable.  When they were in WWI, it was horrific beyond the basics of human mass murder.  It was something we cannot see happen again.  It is the difference between genocide by machete and genocide by trains going to death factories.  We cannot tolerate that being ok by the bad guys.  WE cannot tolerate it (why US?) because we have been that country that has the big weapons and moral authority since 1917.  Yes, we have been BAD, BAD, BAD many times when those among us who are BAD, BAD, BAD use our military for evil.  But we are also capable of being able to step in and say STOP in a way no other nation on Earth can. We have all the benefits no other country does: authority (legitimate authority even if many times used immorally, we have real authority because people admire and fear us), expectations to be better than France and China and Russia on human rights, strength (we spend more of my tax dollars than any other nation on Earth and we are combat ready like no one else), and finally legitimacy.  This last one is key.  For all of people's dislike of the USA, the world has historically since 1917 come to accept that once the American's come in, this means business.  It doesn't mean we can't be defeated (Vietnam).  But when Russia or the UK sends in troops it has a different perception than when the US sends in troops.  Notice how things changed in the former Yugoslavia when we got real.  It got done.  It needs to be us, probably with the backing of NATO (e.g., not a bullshit coalition of the "willing", but a real coalition to protect us from Nerve gas as a strategy in routine combat).

        Mmmmm. Sprinkles. - H.J. Simpson.

        by ten canvassers on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:48:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If The World Says It Is Ok To Use Chemical (6+ / 0-)

    weapons than it opens the door to saying it is ok to use nuclear bombs.   Is that where we want to go?  Instead of backsliding shouldn't we go forward and try to keep chemical weapons banned and maybe even listing some conventional weapons on the banned list too?

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:31:53 PM PDT

    •  Some already are... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...or, at least, particular uses are listed.

      For instance, it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to use large-caliber weapons (think a .50-cal machine gun) against personnel.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:00:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Geneva Conventions are of little use if (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the largest user and manufacturer of military arms does not ratify it.

        The US used a different formulation of napalm to circumvent bad press. They have also designed bullets that tumble in order to circumvent the requirement of a full metal jacket to reduce wound damage. The new tumbling rounds are even more destructive on human tissue.

        For instance, it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to use large-caliber weapons (think a .50-cal machine gun) against personnel.
        But it is legal to use it against a vehicle filled with family members. .50 cal is standard on helicopter gunships.
  •  Thanks for posting this.... (18+ / 0-)

    I have a lot of mixed feelings on what is happening in Syria, chemical weapons versus conventional, whether we should intervene. Along with Ivorbill's superb Syria diary, this is a most welcome contribution.

    A good day for Kossacks sharing their personal knowledge and experiences.

  •  Thank you. (19+ / 0-)

    I am sure it is hard to write of it.

    My view on this simple.  WW I veterans saw the some of the most horrifying death, on a massive scale, of the 20th century.

    Many came away as pacifists, but even the generals and politicians who ordered the troops to their death--and continued to send them to their death in later wars--agreed that chemical weapons were specially evil...that they must be banned...and against almost all precedent...actually agreed to ban them.

    Where do we get off thinking we have greater insight than those who have experienced that horror?

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:34:13 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. Best way to debate. I agree with your (6+ / 0-)

    position on this matter. Seeing all of the small dead kids brings another layer. Pure warfare against sleeping civilians. Conventional warfare and chemical both suck. It is a question of which one super sucks. Bad precedent to allow this to go unpunished. Warfare between trained soldiers is something I hate, but that is war. Killing kids with gas, man, we have to draw a line somewhere, no?  

    Mix the blood and make new people!

    by Yonkers Boy on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:41:10 PM PDT

  •  Thankyou. I concur and will add my own 2 cents (9+ / 0-)

    here by reposting my comment from wmtriallawyer's diary:

    I agree with the premise here that chemical weapons do cross a line, that they are different ...

    The fact that a group of any sort can release chemicals that wipe out whole towns/villages/cities in a matter of moments is very different than all other weapons.

    yes, bombs are indiscriminate and using them on civilians is also against convention.   but chemicals are not only indiscriminate, they are comprehensive.

    for those that don't get it, try to bring to mind the damage done to london during WWII by bombs - devastating.  now try to imagine that every single soul in london and the surrounding area was killed by chemicals.  are you starting to see the difference yet?

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:49:26 PM PDT

    •  Bombing can be targeted reliably. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MRA NY, high uintas, jds1978, Lawrence

      It is possible to put a bomb here, and not over there.

      But if the wind changes a little bit, that cloud of chemical weapons floats over the town, and all those women and children are dead.

      Chemical weapons cannot ever be employed in a manner that meets the Geneva Convention's standards for protection of civilians. They are innately indiscriminate.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:57:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My family in Israel experieced a scud attack (13+ / 0-)

    Thankfully it caused only physical, not human damage, and was conventional, not chemical or biological. But they were terrified during the Gulf War because they had no way of knowing what was coming at the time. My grandfather may have suffered permanent trauma due to this terror as he started deteriorating soon after the war ended, and died 5 years later.

    The thing about such weapons is not just their actual capabilities, but the terror that they create and are meant to create, to break people and force them to give up. Any weapon that targets or terrorizes civilians should be banned (which is why our own use of incendiary bombs and nuclear weapons against German and Japanese civilians during WWII was wrong and immoral).

  •  Where exactly is the disagreement? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't see much.

  •  So civilians have (6+ / 0-)

    ways of protecting themselves from conventional arms? From nuclear attacks?

    I went through NBC training as well. Watched those films too.

    And I disagree with your assessment.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 12:51:51 PM PDT

    •  The key factor is that conventional arms (3+ / 0-)

      and nuclear attacks do have "legitimate" military value in that they are effective against military targets.

      Therefore, while civilians can be affected, that can be written off as "collateral" damage.

      OTOH, chemical weapon have NO value against military targets, they ONLY kill (or harm) civilians.

      I dunno, but to me that's not that difficult of a concept to grasp.

      •  No value at all against military targets? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CenPhx, ranger995, mimi, caul, tardis10

        No soldier has ever died from the use of CW? Are you sure about that?

        I didn't know CW had the ability to cherry pick only civilians to kill. Must be a new development.

        "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

        by just another vet on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:20:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I don't think Syrian Rebels have hazmat gear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        so if we're just down to "does it have military value" then it's not a winning argument in THIS case.

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:21:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reading diaries is hard, I suppose (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          high uintas

          Heck, I often don't do that myself before commenting .. .

          •  I read it... Sorry, I'm not sure (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul, tardis10

            why you think I didn't. I was responding to the point about the utility of the weapons against military targets. It's valid in cases when you're dealing with two industrial powers, but I'm not sure it's directly applicable to this case.

            But, I'm just talking about the theoretical debate about chemical weapons that's happening around the web today. Not weighing in on the diarist's story directly.

            "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

            by McWaffle on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:32:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Most of the casualties of war are now civilians (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It will continue to get worse as nations start droning each other. Eventually, it will only be the unprotected civilians that will have any skin in the game.

  •  Mission accomplished nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell
  •  INterestingly (14+ / 0-)

    the dead is dead argument is also used against hate crimes legislation as well, and the argument similarly misses significant differences here as well.  The chemical weapons are here targeted at civilians.

  •  Chemical weapons are horrible (0+ / 0-)

    but are we willing to fight a war in Syria to stop their use?  By burning down Syria, can we save it?  History says no.  

    •  what i don't get is why it is framed by so many as (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, Militarytracy

      fighting a war in syria.  a single, focused strike on military and communciation sites is not a war.

      "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

      by MRA NY on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:35:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How many strikes does it take to be a war? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        How many different munitions are allowed in that single strike?

        The US will deploy several hundreds of cruise missiles and joint standoff missiles at the opening salvo .

        There are thousands of targets in Syria. Much more than there were in IraqII and Libya.

      •  what is a focused surgical site to one side is (0+ / 0-)

        an illegitimate attack and interference in the internal civil wars of a sovereign country by another one.

        How do you know what other countries think about the "surgical strikes" ? Aren't they especially humiliating mentally speaking to the Assad regime, because it is so clearly meant as a threat and punishment, yet not devastating enough to be really scared, that they could even less accept it as what it is meant for ?

        Civil Men Are For Civil Rights

        by mimi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:12:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I suppose the idea is raising the cost (0+ / 0-)

      From what I've heard today, the decision to use CW was made by the Syrian Army, possibly in violation of orders by the Syrian Defense Ministry.  This is based on a communications intercept that's been mentioned in the press today.

      If so, the goal for the US. would be to damage infrastructure valuable to the Syrian military as an institution.  They are stretched very thin due the civil war, and things like helicopters are very valuable.

      The theory behind this is to make CW too "expensive" to use.

      You can certainly argue both with the logic of this and of its feasibility, but I'd guess this is what the thinking is.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 03:12:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent counter (7+ / 0-)

    to Kos' naive piece.

  •  I disagree with Kos too (9+ / 0-)

    it's not about "death"; it's about the rule of law, or the lack of it.

    International law must be enforced. International law makes the world a better place, and the lack of international law (or the failure to enforce it) makes the world a worse place.

    But to allow the US to self-annoint itself as the world's police force, is just as bad. Not only has the US itself ignored international law for 75 years (and refused to accept the jurisdiction of the World Court), but we have ALWAYS clamored for enforcement of international law against nations we don't like, while thwarting attempts to apply international law to nations we DO like.  To allow us to turn international law into politics, makes the world a worse place. It just gives a legal figleaf to superpower imperialism.

    That is why any attempts to enforce international law MUST be international, either from the UN or NATO.

    The American fox simply cannot be allowed to police the global henhouse.

  •  So you think we should kill Syrians because (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx, chuckvw

    Syrians are killing Syrians in the wrong way? Or not?

    And chemical weapons were not primarily used against civilians during the time the were legal. They were used during trench warfare. Do the rebels in Syria have the sort of protection you're talking about?

    I suppose the US use of agent orange in Vietnam and white phosphorus in Fallujah would count as being used against civilians.

    But really, not weapons of war are primarily used to kill civilians. That's how the numbers work out with drones if you don't assume that every male of fighting age is a militant.

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

    by AoT on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:24:08 PM PDT

  •  WAR IS ALL HELL (5+ / 0-)

    They say the same thing about Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945.  My father was stationed on Tinian Island when the Enola Gay (Hiroshima) and Bockscar (Nagasaki) flew their missions.  Those A-bombs were aimed primarily at civilians.  But dad always thanked God for them.  He knew what was waiting for him and thousands of others on the beaches of Japan.  The US military had no illusions about the Japanese willingness to fight for their homeland.  They didn't anticipate an end to the war before mid 1946.

    War is all hell, said General Sherman.  The only way to end the horror is to end the wars.

  •  In the other diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KayCeSF, high uintas

    where there was a statement that the manner of death is irrelevant - that is so wrong. Thinking about the victims after seeing the way they died, I posted this comment.

    Thank you for this diary.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:45:40 PM PDT

  •  same with remote killing. the issue I have (4+ / 0-)

    with any weapons delivered from a distance is that we detach ourselves from what is really happening. It becomes far too easy to further dehumanize the whole matter and see casualties as just blips on a screen. Which makes it all that less emotional to launch another war. We stop even recognizing what's really happening on the ground. With Vietnam, we could see how support for that war melted away when people got to see what it really looked like on the ground. So, with Iraq, our leaders decided we should never see. With remote weaponry, even the participants won't see.

    That's not war. That's cold-hearted gaming with the lives of others.

    I don't believe in war as a way to solve anything, at all, but if there is going to be war (and clearly humans don't seem to be able to stop making them) then there should at least be some skin in the game, as it were. Meet your opponent and face them as a human being. If you're not stepping up to the risk of combat, you're not really feeling that it is a just cause.

    And, in the case of Syria, we aren't going in because we feel any threat to the sovereign US. Nor do we care about the people on the ground. 100,00 dead and we haven't done a thing. We're going in to protect corporate interests. We see an opportunity and we're taking it. But since it's about money and not about principles of human rights, we'll do it with the least amount of skin in the game, as possible. We'll obliterate them without ever putting boots on the ground.

    War is always hell. What we do now-a-days isn't even that. Hell requires a soul and this is soulless.

    Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

    by UnaSpenser on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:47:31 PM PDT

  •  respectfully disagreeing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that there is a lick of difference between bombing infrastructure ( and by extension civilian population ), areas containing civilian populations etc and gassing them.

    In the context of Syria, the military opponents of the regime are essentially armed civilians and from a historical context recent actual usage ( against Iran ) was highly effective against military targets.

    In the context of a potential attack against the west, with it's modern and well equipped military your point does stand that they are largely only effective against the civilian populace where as conventional are effective against both, but that is a semantic. If you firebomb a population center or gas it, the intent is the same. It doesn't matter to a dead civilian if they were blown to bits or gassed. War sucks especially if you aren't an armed combatant.

  •  Kos is right. (9+ / 0-)

    Napalm is pretty horrible, as is white phosphorous. As is DIME ammunition, used by the Israelis in Gaza.
      How about spent uranium, which poisons the nearby environment with radioactive dust?

    Or the use of economic sanctions which block access to medical and sanitation supplies, killing children with cholera and other contagious diseases at Medieval rates.

    And cowardly? Are air strikes, drone strikes, and cruise missile strikes cowardly?
    The fact is, in modern war, 95% of the casualties are civilians.

  •  Thank you! (8+ / 0-)

    I was in the US Army stuck in Saudi Arabia while you were on that mountaintop, and I had the same reaction as you, but we were wearing those hazmat suits in the hot desert in case there was a gas attack on our unit. We actually had a few close calls after chemical weapon detectors went off, but luckily they were false alarms. Really fucking scary when that happens, but at least we had protection.

    The reason that using chemical weapons are banned and conventional weapons are not - an important distinction - is for the reasons you stated. Chemical weapons are used to target civilians, and in the most well known instances such as against the Kurds in Iraq and most recently in Syria the only casualities were civilians. Conventional weapons can also be used to target civilians, and the fact that those are also war crimes is little consolation, but the effect of chemical weapons is to only kill and maime civilians. I'm upset that Markos didn't realize that distinction. He's smarter than that.

    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” - Anais Nin

    by legendmn on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:49:12 PM PDT

  •  The people who lived through World War I... (9+ / 0-)

    had no trouble understanding that chemical warfare was a unique horror that needed to be treated differently.

    I'm a great deal more inclined to trust their judgment on this, because not only did they know a great deal more about chemical weapons, but the also knew a great deal more about death from convention weapons as well.

    It's a monument to 21st century American privilege that Kos's diary was even possible.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:49:15 PM PDT

    •  My Great Uncle fought at 3rd Ypres/ (0+ / 0-)

      Passchendaele, amongst other places.

      Frankly, they were more worried about drowning in the mud than wind dependent gas.

      Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

      by Bollox Ref on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:22:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Was exactly what I thought too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, duhban, Militarytracy

    after reading Kos' diary. Both cause death, but one causes a death so gruesome and indiscriminate... ugh. Jesus Loves You.

    by DAISHI on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:53:21 PM PDT

  •  This diary is shameful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is an advocacy for war.   It is very obvious that the chemical weapons is only an excuse for intervention.

  •  Terrifying (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps muskets were as terrifying to pike-wielding troops as the chemical weapons are today to civilians.

    Pity the world did not act to ban those.

    •  No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Pikes and muskets coexisted for a rather long time.  It was the invention of the bayonet that finally did in the pike as a weapon of war, by giving musketeers ability to double as pikemen.

      The truth is, no conventional arms really match the horror of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

      "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

      by Quanta on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:08:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cowardly? (5+ / 0-)

    Still beats me why a Cruise missile with a conventional explosive is somehow more manly than a shell with Sarin. Please explain.

    •  conventional warheads destroy physical targets (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, virginwoolf

      Chemical weapons kill people and leave buildings and everything else standing.   Using a conventional warhead on a bridge or weapons factory would be a legitimate military action.

      Killing civilians has no military purpose other than to terrorize.  While collateral damage is often unfortunate but necessary when taking out a legitimate military target, it's by definition never the intended purpose of an attack.  

      Praxis: Bold as Love

      by VelvetElvis on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:37:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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

        The history of 20th century wars is replete with the bombing of civilians.  

      •  Vietnam (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Wiki says:

        Estimates for the number of North Vietnamese civilian deaths resulting from US bombing range from 50,000-65,000. American bombing in Cambodia killed at least 40,000 combatants and civilians.


        18.2 million gallons of Agent Orange (Dioxin) was sprayed by the U.S. military over more than 10% of Southern Vietnam,[20] as part of the U.S. herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam's government claimed that 400,000 people were killed or maimed as a result of after effects, and that 500,000 children were born with birth defects.

        ---  Assad and his chemical weapons should be weighed in this scale.

  •  I have to weigh in here.. Several aspects ! (6+ / 0-)

    Killing IS killing...

    I think Kos has his opinion as a former uniformed military has that opinion as he was military and for that reason...HE knows the effect of Bullets and bombs on civilians.....Why the shock?

    WHO has the massive stockpile of WMD's?
    We do.
    There were chemical weapons stockpiled in the US?  yes Anniston Alabama just one place and they burned them openly and yes people died.
    For what reason?
    Who used a Nuclear weapon?  Hiroshima and Nakasaki?
    We did.  Hypocrisy of the highest form regarding all this yellow cake and we will invade IF ....
    Chemical weapons should not be used under any circumstances...Neither should Invasion of bombs and bullets not to mention AO which kills you slowly or Depleted uranium or any of the nasty things WE DO HAVE.
    WHAT HYPOCRISY to think it is OK for us to have these things.  These wars are EVIL and we cannot police the world but we definately are not standing on any high ground.
    We have no moral ground at all to say Look...we can have this and you can't.   Well of course we need it for defense.
    Really?  No one survives any of these attacks once the genie is out of the bottle and that genie started climbing out of the bottle after Hiroshima and yes WE DID poison our own people in Vietnam. Is is any better to bomb a country than it's own to gas them?   I don't think so.

    I agree with Kos...Bombing and IED's and all of this other terror of standarized military equipment is just as bad where civilians are involved and maybe more so because WAR leaves a mark on the trauma of a person's soul because they die a slow death not only from the bombs bursting in air but also the after effect of the psychological and the warriors guilt.   I don't think people who use WMD's are remorseful.. I think soliders who fight wars are forever changed... Dead is Dead.. Period.. Some walking dead came back from War..Some civilians are dead..They just haven't laid down yet.  Some things have long lasting effects and it seems the MIC is now in the Zombie and Killing business.  there are many angles in here but I see it clearly IMO of just how awful war is and not just on soldiers but on civilians and families for generations to come.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:16:09 PM PDT

  •  You're missing his point (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leema, caul, delver rootnose

    The real point is "why do we only care now?" The slaughter of innocents should always stir action and outrage.. but in todays world only keywords inspire either.

    Much like in the i/p conflict.. people only care when the "evil other side" kills innocents.. they dont seem to get that the death of innocents is just that and it needs to stop

    A man is born as many men but dies as a single one.--Martin Heidegger

    by cdreid on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:22:46 PM PDT

    •  I think a lot of us have cared for a while (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cdreid, auron renouille

      about this.

      The media is just starting to care because Obama said that the use of chemical weapons would provoke action on our part.

      Praxis: Bold as Love

      by VelvetElvis on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:30:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He is still wrong and I'm surprised he can't (0+ / 0-)

      see his error. There are some methods of war that should be verboten. I would add cluster munitions and white phosphorus to THAT list, not callously add chemical weapons to the list of accepted forms of warfare.

      Do we have moral authority here? No, we don't and I wouldn't think it's the best approach to making a case for a limited military strike.

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:40:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What?? (0+ / 0-)

    There are many deaths as painful or more so than that.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:45:05 PM PDT

  •  The difference is legal for me. (4+ / 0-)

    There are international treaties banning chemical weapons, and those violating must be held accountable if we're going to continue having treaties in the future. If we don't defend the treaty or sanction consequences, then what's the point of having a treaty?

    •  But the US has not ratified them.... (0+ / 0-)
    •  The same point of any treaty (0+ / 0-)

        Every treaty, without exception, is merely an agreement which will last no longer than the willingness of the parties to the agreement to uphold it. The moment a sovereign nation--especially a Great Power--sees some powerful reason to ignore the treaty they will. International law is not law, it is mere wishful thinking. Several posters have referred to World War I resulting in the international community turning against chemical weapons/poison gas. What they clearly don't realize is that every great power had supplies of poison gas on hand, ready for use. It was merely by accident that these weapons were never used. The British Cabinet, we now know, firmly endorsed Churchill's plan to use poison gas on the German troops when they invaded in 1940. But the Germans lost the Battle of Britain and did not come. Again, in 1944-45, Churchill wanted to use poison gas on German cities, and Roosevelt--who could take a more relaxed view of the situation, being far from the V-2 rockets--vetoed it.  Hitler only refrained from using poison gas on the British and later the Russians because the Germans had no strategic air force and because he mistakenly thought the British possessed equally effective poison gases to the ones he had. We thought about poison gassing the Japanese, but didn't bother because we had napalm and the A bomb.
           All through my childhood and most of my adulthood, I lived with the knowledge that at the push of a button, everyone on Earth could be annihilated in 15 minutes. We were prepared to do it. Think about that. Think about it. When you live with the shadow of universal death for decades on end, you sort of end up where Kos is. Death is Death.

      "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

      by Reston history guy on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:21:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok (0+ / 0-)

        Then in your eyes any death is the same. Drop a hydrogen bomb or stab people with a switch blade, it's all the same.

        •  Well, not quite (0+ / 0-)

          From the point of view of an external observer it is quite different. One is very loud, and the other is pretty quiet, and so forth. But from the point of view of the dead, yes both are the same. Death is Death, after all, and the Dead do not complain about the nature of their execution.
               But the real point of my comment is that the notion that because Syria has "violated international law" the U.S. is morally justified in taking action against it is naive. Where was the moral justification for Mutually Assured Destruction? Everyone my age, and I suppose everyone older than about 30, was aware that the US and USSR were prepared to destroy all human life on earth. All of it.  Few worried about the moral justification for such an act, the "Better Red than Dead" group. Most people just pretended it was never going to happen. But in october 1962 it came razor-thin close to happening.   So pardon me if I can't get excited about civilians being killed in Syria by a brutal regime. Pardon me if I can't support blowing up various people in Syria in the hope that the Syrian dictatorship will realize it has been naughty.
               People and governments will blow right through any paper limits when they feel it is necessary. Cf. Germany, Invasion of Belgium, August 1914.  

          "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

          by Reston history guy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:17:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a bit narrow-minded. (0+ / 0-)

            My point is that chemical and nuclear warfare affect the environment. Thus, the physical health of survivors and their children is also effected. That's only one example, and I could come up with other differences too. "External observers," as you put it, are physically affected.

            The point of having treaties banning chemical warfare is because their potential for destruction is greater. And as I have pointed out in one example, destruction does not always mean death.

            And "mutually assured destruction" is a justification for not using advanced weaponry. Why? Because everyone dies! Nuclear warfare on a scale that large would not only kill a lot of people, but also damn the existence of humans altogether. Death is not death.

            I do not support involvement in Syria personally, but I do see a clear difference between different types of weaponry. Saying "death is death," is a very narrow-minded view of reality. We are stewards of this world.

            •  Ummmm.... (0+ / 0-)

                  Well, it all depends on the distance the external observer is away from the scene. American audiences eating popcorn in movie theaters across the country cheered newsreel film of Japanese cities burning.
                    Yes, you are certainly right that different weaponry has different levels of destructive capability, and also correct that one can be wounded rather than killed outright. But the morality of this entire business is rather fuzzy. Yes, chemical weapons can affect the health of children, perhaps...though I don't know this for sure..even grandchildren. But if a man is shot dead, all of his potential children are never born. How do you weigh the ethics of that? 50 million people died in World War II, almost entirely from conventional weapons. Would it have been morally better if chemical weapons had been used and the total of injured (thus able to live and have children) had been higher and the death toll lower? I don't know. I have no idea. It's like trying to weigh Stalin's mass murders against Hitler's and playing "Who was the more evil?" In matters like this, all moral judgements seem arbitrary.
                   My point about treaties is that they will be ignored by any power that feels a need to do so. Cf. The Locarno Treaty which solemnly pledged Germany and France would never go to war again, in 1925.
                  I don't think you see my point about MAD. You may be young, but those of us over 30 lived in a society which was both willing AND able to kill everyone. Everyone. What did I do to stop this? Nothing. What did my fellow citizens of the US and other atomic powers do to stop this? Nothing. It was mere luck that we are here, alive today. So except for a tiny number of anti-bomb protesters like the Berrigans, everyone over 30 is an accessory before the fact to universal genocide. (and notice that there are still thousands of H bombs ready and waiting today) So how are we in any moral or "legal" position to lob cruise missiles into Syria because we object to how they kill people?

              "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

              by Reston history guy on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:56:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I have seen and lived 45 years after the fact (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac, ranger995, caul

    of what bombs and bullets do and the guilt associated with what it does to civilians.from a soldier's perspective ..A slow death to all involved.
    Killing is Killing.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 03:08:50 PM PDT

  •  With a convential weapon a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    survivor could come back a few days after to salvage what was left.  While a chemical weapon could still kill in those few days.

    •  Depends on the type of CW. Some are persistent (0+ / 0-)

      and others not. Sarin is non-persistent.

      Do you consider land mines to be conventional weapons?  According to the UN, landmines currently kill and maim tens of thousands every year, mostly women and children. Some of these were from WWII. There's now about 110 million land mines spread throughout the world.

      The US will not sign a ban treaty on them.

  •  I can't believe that we have devolved into (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrWebster, HCKAD, caul

    discussions about which weapons are more terrifying.

    Let me ask you this, since you have experience with the first Gulf War, how do you think the people who were driving along the "Highway of Death" felt as we began indiscriminately bombing everything on that road? Was there terror any less significant than your "This shit is real?"

    Was the devastation any less significant that if we had used chemical weapons?

    As far as I'm concerned mincing words over this is just stupid.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:18:42 PM PDT

  •  Thank you so much. I agree. NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:23:02 PM PDT

  •  You are being disingenuous if you think... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You are being disingenuous if you think your division, topology, classification of death is not a justification for war.  I can only surmise that Satan himself is relishing this discussion on the moral variations and taxonomies of slaughter.

  •  Israel in a state of panic over these weapon! (0+ / 0-)

    There are gas-mask distribution centers! We can only hope these horrible weapons will not be used against innocent Israelis.

  •  Blasted by metal bombs or eaten up with chemicals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    now there's a choice they need to study at Harvard and Mit
    I am at a loss, I am a Cambridge, MA. liberal.  Can't the Shia, Alewhites and Sunnis sit down now and talk this through?  Many will die and maybe Americans, too.

  •  Christy Matthewson (5+ / 0-)

    From Wikipedia:

    Late in the 1918 season, Mathewson enlisted in the United States Army for World War I.  Wife Jane was very much opposed to the decision, but Mathewson insisted he go.  He served overseas as a Captain in the newly formed Chemical Service along with Ty Cobb.  When he arrived in France, he was accidentally gassed during a chemical training exercise and subsequently developed tuberculosis, which more easily infects lungs that have been damaged by chemical gases. Although he returned to serve as a coach for the Giants from 1919–1921, he spent a good portion of that time in Saranac Lake fighting the illness, initially at the Trudeau Sanitorium, and later in a house that he had built.  In 1923, Mathewson got back into professional baseball when he and Giants attorney Emil Fuchs put together a syndicate that bought the Boston Braves. Although initial plans called for Matthewson to be principal owner and team president, his health had deteriorated so much that he was nothing more than a figurehead. He turned over the presidency to Fuchs after the season.

    Two years later, he died in Saranac Lake, New York, of tuberculosis. He is buried at Lewisburg Cemetery in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

    He was 45 years old.

    My great aunt's brother-in-law was gassed in World War I in the trenches in France.  He lived until 1947, but was an invalid the rest of his life, prone to horrible coughing fits, always gasping for breath.  He is buried adjacent to my own family's plot.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:51:19 PM PDT

  •  I think you stated the conclusion wrong. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, caul
    Conclusion: Therefore A equals B.
    I don't think the "equality" of the kinds of death is the issue.

    I think the issue is: let's not rush to war, let's not rush to bomb.  We've been fighting war for 10 years.  Let's give peace and negotiation a chance.

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 05:54:15 PM PDT

  •  What makes a civilian's life worth more (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, britzklieg, caul, saluda, itsjim

    Than a soldier's? How is a factory worker more valuable than someone defending their country against an invader? The concept of not hurting civilians is mostly founded on myth. Civilians have nearly always been a prime target, with very few exceptions. The American Civil War, and WWI are the only wars where civilians were by and large left alone, and the latter included profligate use of chemical weapons.

    America intentionally destroys civilian targets as a matter of strategy. Power plants, sewage treatment plants, use of cluster munitions in populated areas, among other tactics, are all used, and deemed necessary for the mission. Yet they all primarily effect civilians. A chemical weapon, a landmine, a cluster munition, white phosphorous, an artillery shell, a missile, or a bullet, the end result is the same. Differentiating between them is little more than an effort to make us feel more good about the horrors we inflict upon others.

    It's not an invasion, it's a liberation. Our troops are defending our freedom. It's not torture, it's enhanced interrogation. Chemical weapons are worse than firing missiles into villages from drones.

    Oh, and let's not forget, we're the only nation to actually use nuclear weapons against our enemies, even when the regional commander said we didn't need to. And we used those on civilians.

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

    by Hannibal on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:00:42 PM PDT

  •  on the newshour: Hitler didn't use chem weapons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radiowalla, Lawrence

    I heard some blowhard from the University of Chicago say that "Hitler didn't use chemical weapons" or thereabouts, and then went on to explain why not.

    I doubt that he was thinking of the Jews. It seemed a bit holocaust denying - like thing to say, without denying the holocaust.

    What makes chemical weapons different is that they are not as much weapons as instruments of execution of the innocent. It's a bright line where once crossed, it's not war, it's mass murder. It's not a military operation, it's terrorism.

  •  I'm with Markos on this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, delver rootnose

    I'm also very sympathetic to TROS for the horror he endured imagining his family being subjected to an horrific death. But I think Markos is right, Assad has been slaughtering civilians using everything else available since this began. if there was a line to be drawn, it should have been way back, and not by the USA. The UN, Europe, the Arab league, should all have said NO.
     I really hope the sabre rattling gutless chickenhawks on the right do not push the President into another neverending useless slaughter.


    Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture

    by nezzclay on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:21:09 PM PDT

  •  I just retired from the Army and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Militarytracy, citizenx

    I totally agree that there is a big difference in how governments kill their people which should affect how other governments respond.

    My 'training' in protecting myself from NBC attacks was formative in how I viewed the inhumanity of my military service and the futility of what one can do to protect oneself with 'protective gear.'

    I concluded, that I as a lower enlisted Soldier at the time, was totally fucked...were we ever attacked by chemical weapons. Totally fucked!

    Yea, we had training on donning our masks, sounding the alarm, putting on additional gear, self-treating and decontaminating, then additional decontamination measures at a central facility.

    However, that was highly optimistic thinking at the most. Agree or disagree with Kos or this diarist, but I tend to think the world must, must act in Syria, for the use of chemical weapons is the greatest act of terror possible on mankind and we are complicit if we don't act.

  •  Gulf War I ruined my discharge plans too. (4+ / 0-)

    Then it ruined my health. First I was extended for the duration. Then I got that round of shots that has been causing me problems ever since. The irony about that is that the supposed preventative is what harmed me while nobody was actually exposed to NBC warfare. I don't care about the Middle Eastern tyrant du jour, nor do I care to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more to slaughter people and give the Teabag Taliban more excuses to gut everything from food stamps, to Unemployment benefits, to Social fucking Security. Because no matter how many people Assad and his opponents have killed, US involvement will mean more civilian deaths. No more adventures. No more MIC approved "actions". No more blood, no more death, no more bullshit. No. More. Wars!

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:42:14 PM PDT

  •  I found this today (3+ / 0-)

    From the Army Times:

    Missile Attack Just a Slap on Assad's Wrist, Changes Nothing

    If a missile attack won't change anything and could cause some really dangerous blowback, I hope all think twice before launching the missles.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:47:59 PM PDT

  •  great diary thanks for posting it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Lawrence

    as I said on the other thread, in addition to all your wonderfully articulated perspective, chemical weapons prohibitions have never been about the means of death. the prohibition is about the order of magnitude increase is in destructive power they represent. for vulnerable civilian populations, one jet carrying a full load of CW can cause far greater destruction than it can with explosives, white phosphorus, cluster munitions, or napalm. and in that part of the world, should their use become commonplace, the risk of escalation and expansion of any conflict is extremely dangerous.

    i realize that the Syria situation presents grave risks and no good solutions. but lets not try to present turing a blind eye to actual chemical weapons use on civilians as being the right choice because CWs are just another way of killing people. that is willful disregard for the facts IMHO.

  •  No weapon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, worldlotus

    allows an easy death. Syria has been carrying out atrocities on its civilians for many months, and the militias have been carrying out atrocities on pro-government soldiers and each other since this all started. There is no such thing as an "Arab Spring." There is only inter-tribal warfare of the most brutal kind committed by well-equipped and poorly-equipped people. Why gassing people is any worse than bombing, castrating, raping, burning alive, starving or mowing them down I don't understand. There is no "line in the sand" when Tibetan kids set themselves on fire, or when Boko Haram thugs hack the arms off non-compliant villagers, or when oil companies deliberately leave their filth and poison behind in the jungle. My point is that this government has been pretty choosy about its enemies and their atrocities, and that hasn't gotten any better. We cannot afford to be the planet's police force, no matter what our hearts wish. We have been at war with some country or another since America came into being. Because of that we will never make any true progress and our words about peace and stability will always ring hollow.

  •  Gas is worse because: (13+ / 0-)

    it seeps into hiding places where bombs are less deadly.
    it drowns a person over a period of minutes with body fluids or
    it shuts down the central nervous system in a slow agonizing way.
    it can travel unseen through tunnels, draws and ditches
    its damage is body-wide and injury is permanent
    it can be used to "clear" hundreds or thousands of square acres
    it kills friend and foe; it is absolutely indiscriminate
    it kills young more efficiently than the older
    it kills more widely than even cluster bombs
    it can linger for days or weeks in low places
    it can be tasted for the rest of your life if you survive
    it damages all the senses for the rest of your life if you survive
    it is cheap. Poor man's nukes is what its other name is.
    it is noiseless. You do not know where to run to.
    it is horrifying in ways that bombs are merely horrible.
    it is able to destroy entire villages, cites and even countries
    it is plentiful whereas bombs are relatively expensive.

    It is the perfect weapon of horror. It disfigures, causes flesh to melt, causes all body systems to disintegrate internally, and is so widespread when used that no one is safe for a period of hours to days.

    No, I dont think Kos is correct here. If Assad wanted to kill every Syrian with conventional weapons, he couldnt do it. If he wanted to kill every Syrian with chemical weapons, he most definitely could do it. There is a reason gas was banned in 1927. It is the perfect weapon of horror.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:28:46 PM PDT

  •  How is it that the conversation always (5+ / 0-)

    Seems to get deflected onto the best, or worst ways to kill people, rather than should we be killing people at all?
    Be the good guys for once.  Use our money and effort to help the refugees, instead of making more casualties.  For all our pious mouthings about the despicable ness of gassing civilians our only solution seems to be more mayhem.  Why not attempt to help people rather than hurt them?  We will spend huge amounts of effort and money to kill, and only a tiny fraction of that to heal.  Shame on us all.

  •  Summary: One time in Iraq, we thought that there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    might be chemical weapons. But there weren't.

    Therefore, Kos is wrong.

    It turns out that the skill set required to get elected is completely different than the skill set required to effectively govern.

    by VictorLaszlo on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:47:55 PM PDT

  •  As a person who has been involved in combat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    delver rootnose, saluda

    during several of our past wars I get upset when people try to equate war with some sort of chivalrous game.   I usually dismiss their opinions because most people making such statements have never been there.  I was in NYC when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima.  I was on my way to the Pacific theater having served in Europe.  My wife was a Japanese school girl at that time working in a munitions factory 6 hours a day and practicing a half hour every evening with a bamboo spear to repel (me) the America invaders.  Like most Americans of that time, I was euphoric that it brought the war to an end.  A few months later I was in Tokyo Japan as part of the occupation.   I talked to a number of survivors of the Fire Storms.  Death in an instant via an atomic explosion or roasted in a fire storm, pick one.  War itself is an atrocity with arcane rules that while given lip service, no one really adheres to.  I will admit that most NCO’s try their best.  Dead, however, is dead.

  •  Chilling. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    This old man

    Thank you for sharing.

  •  yea chemical weapons... (0+ / 0-)

    ...are worse than conventional but to me it seems rather hypocritical to let tens of thousands die by conventional weapons then get all upset when a thousand or so are killed by chemical weapons.

    We, and the rest of the world, stand by and watch people die all the time.  Why is it different now.  Recent past experience has show the consequences of action may be just as bad as inaction if not worse.

    I am very much anti war.  I am also very much anti suffering but I don't see why we have to be the ones always intervening.  Why do we have to always take it on the chin.  Let the Europeans, the ones more at risk, do the heavy lifting for once.  I guess we can't allow that and still be the imperial power we want to be.

    I am starting to question the motivations of the national actors who are pushing for this war.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:52:53 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Is President Obama the last moderate Republican?

    by al23 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:31:34 AM PDT

  •  awful journal from KOS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in that he completely misrepresents the objections to drone warfare.

    Okay by KOS's logic, chemical weapons should not be a red line.  I agree.  There should never be a red line short of being directly attacked.  Then you have no choice but to defend yourself.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 07:02:59 AM PDT

  •  I have to disagree with one thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Markos' diary was not thought provoking, the debate it engendered was.

    I am probably violating the new site rules and marking myself for HRs, but I found Markos' argument so poorly reasoned simplistic in nature, knocking it down is child's play and made me wonder what he is drinking these days.

    With all due respect to his personal history, and with his basic statement about the cruelty of wart that I completely agree with, his equating throwing stones and poison gas or nuclear weapons (if I may take it to logical conclusion) is a dangerously slippery slope if you plug in the justification for war that so many people make.

    Very short putt from the reasoning of Markos on gas and the reasoning of John Woo on water-boarding.

  •  I gotta agree with Markos on this one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    This old man

    I understand arguments that go the other way, and I've disagreed with Markos publicly before, but to those dead civilians, I don't think they really cared what had killed them.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

kos, Meteor Blades, Egg, Mary, Thumb, JekyllnHyde, cslewis, Sylv, MrLiberal, KeithH, JR, CJB, Trix, Radiowalla, LouisMartin, True North, Brainwrap, teacherken, Subterranean, AaronInSanDiego, Powered Grace, nicolemm, Yoshimi, LynChi, kpardue, Aspe4, Mlle L, dsb, Pompatus, polecat, red moon dog, Spider Jerusalem, jamoca, musicsleuth, Gareth, bronte17, Intellectually Curious, missLotus, kalihikane, Wee Mama, mbayrob, whenwego, Agathena, highacidity, Pithy Cherub, mole333, mikidee, farmerhunt, ivote2004, JPhurst, Fe, wader, sviscusi, Serendipity, Texknight, suzq, adamsrb, Admiral Santa, psnyder, hangingchad, BleacherBum153, Dallasdoc, elmo, Lawrence, delphine, wmtriallawyer, i dont get it, churchylafemme, HeyMikey, NYFM, Catte Nappe, annetteboardman, rlharry, Lilith, bwintx, monkee, sarvanan17, Curt Matlock, KayCeSF, tomjones, TheOrchid, xyz, vivadissent, eztempo, boran2, Timroff, sawgrass727, vcmvo2, maybeeso in michigan, historys mysteries, Bluesee, 3goldens, Jeffersonian Democrat, blueyedace2, jiffypop, subtropolis, Roadbed Guy, Militarytracy, Oaklander, claytonben, Simplify, citizenx, Tod, Kevskos, boofdah, marathon, GreenPA, peteri2, bmaples, Rex Freedom, ord avg guy, PinHole, WisePiper, Lisa Lockwood, the fan man, Lindy, Seeds, peacestpete, mrchips46, xaxnar, CJnyc, begone, MadGeorgiaDem, kishik, martini, third Party please, kovie, Knucklehead, snazzzybird, golem, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, vigilant meerkat, 417els, edwardssl, emeraldmaiden, mr crabby, raptavio, smokeymonkey, Naniboujou, kck, Lefty Coaster, birdbrain64, eglantine, erratic, twigg, Rosaura, sceptical observer, ER Doc, middleagedhousewife, TooFolkGR, CA Nana, kkbDIA, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, suspiciousmind, Johnathan Ivan, cpresley, hooper, Habitat Vic, SpecialKinFlag, Debs2, offgrid, puakev, Magster, deepbreath, FishOutofWater, CTDemoFarmer, tbirchard, noofsh, Matt Z, FischFry, joedemocrat, gchaucer2, leonard145b, hurdger, TomP, Empower Ink, cville townie, rmonroe, Mighty Ike, MKinTN, JayC, bkamr, seriously70, gzodik, VelvetElvis, condorcet, TX Freethinker, ferment, Maroon watch, Senor Unoball, Tchrldy, elwior, Remembering Jello, FG, Laughing Vergil, CDH in Brooklyn, Buckeye Nut Schell, Pragmaticus, lavorare, Therapy, Greasy Grant, rssrai, CenFlaDem, pamelabrown, Cassandra Waites, bluesheep, TokenLiberal, Missys Brother, mofembot, Kathy S, J V Calin, qm1pooh, Parthenia, pasuburbdem1, newton123, toom, Wordsinthewind, JBL55, oldliberal, legendmn, LaFeminista, Turn Left, overtures, Rhysling, artmartin, Fonsia, Rick Aucoin, LinSea, Pale Jenova, notrouble, WakeUpNeo, earicicle, rbird, dfe, DefendOurConstitution, virginwoolf, petral, thestructureguy, bfitzinAR, Kysen, IreGyre, guyeda, KenInCO, 57andFemale, Livvy5, joe from Lowell, Edge PA, citisven, ruscle, Just Bob, brentbent, oceanrain, arabian, willynel, icemilkcoffee, LaughingPlanet, serendipityisabitch, gramofsam1, leftywright, David Harris Gershon, marsanges, Crabby Abbey, Progressive Pen, freeport beach PA, appledown, ATFILLINOIS, tellthestories, gulfgal98, samanthab, Lady Libertine, kacemo, AJ in Camden, Yasuragi, Jaimas, ladasue, ericlewis0, USHomeopath, Oh Mary Oh, stevenaxelrod, Actbriniel, slice, Wisdumb, TheHalfrican, praying manatheist, BrowniesAreGood, the autonomist, kerflooey, Front Toward Enemy, Lost Left Coaster, ozsea1, slowbutsure, donaurora, Reston history guy, La Gitane, aisb23, Hatrax, nezzclay, Alice Olson, trumpeter, Texas Lefty, mrsgoo, AgavePup, cyberpuggy, badscience, smoothnmellow, gof, MRA NY, worldlotus, Empty Vessel, JayFromPA, zapus, chira2, sound of progress, disconnect the dots, cjo30080, Mets102, blue aardvark, SoCalSal, blackjackal, imlpdx, annecros, DEMonrat ankle biter, Frank In WA, AnnetteK, weatherdude, ridemybike, timlee, Heart n Mind, NoFortunateSon, DeadHead, Gay CA Democrat, water willow, Mindful Nature, Chrislove, Siri, teachered, EclecticCrafter, Drobin, tallahasseedem, Joieau, MightyMoose, Deep Texan, InAntalya, jan4insight, Canines and Crocodiles, doroma, tytalus, Denver11, Victim of Circumstance, AuntieRa, Dr Swig Mcjigger, Adam AZ, ottoveil, Robynhood too, ShoshannaD, Patrick is Lucky, Hammerhand, flevitan, mygreekamphora, MishaBrewer, jusjtim35, Dallas L, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, TheMeansAreTheEnd, countwebb, newinfluence, argomd, Grandpa Dave, 84thProblem, SixSixSix, kmfmstar, Smoh, CJ WIHorse, BadKitties, Hey338Too, Timari, dokiy, Not A Bot, duhban, martianexpatriate, WFBMM, night cat, JeremySchro, Mark Mywurtz, nancyjones, dannyboy1, eagleray, Sir Roderick, Darwinian Detritus, Kasoru, Random Brainwaves, Trianghost

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site