Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bombs & explosives are chemical weapons

An eastern blogger, who I previously mentioned in this estimable piece, is a loquacious commentator for a preeminent corporate welfare bum. On his website Saturday, he was cheering for an escalation of death and destruction in Syria, hoping American cruise missiles and strategic bombers would be deployed without delay and concern for legalities.

One of the stated reasons,
"Nearly 1,500 innocent civilians were murdered by Bashar al-Assad on the morning of Aug. 21."
That number is less than certain. According to Propublica and The Guardian, France set the count of dead at 281, Britain had it around 350 and the Americans at 1,429.

Of course, body counts in conflicts are problematic and victims with dark skins are peculiarly challenging to quantify. Some people had the number of war dead in DR Congo at 5.4 million. Others had it closer to 3 million. In the Rwanda genocide, estimates had a half a million to one million dead. Regardless of the numbers, Americans expended little fuel and ammo in central Africa.

Wait 'till you see what the little bombs split up into.
Global interests of America are different in the middle east, especially in countries that border Israel. That results in well orchestrated outrage after someone, intentionally or by accident, deployed poisons against Syrian civilians. Certainly, deaths of people by chemical weapons is appalling. But then, I don't include only volatile agents like Sarin. I include chemical weapons that come in other forms, such as the explosives in $640 million worth of cluster bombs Americans are supplying to Saudi Arabia and in the 1,000 pound warheads delivered by Tomahawk cruise missiles or the 40,000 pounds of bombs in a single B-1 bomber.

Explosions are chemical reactions that instantaneously release large quantities of potentially destructive gases. To some observers of warfare, chemicals that kill with a loud bang are more genteel than silent ones. Thus, we are less offended by explosions, particularly if delivered by smart bombs that promise to kill and maim fewer innocents than unguided versions.

The bombing that President Obama aims to do - with Stephen Harper's ardent support - will visit additional tragedy on the people of Syria and may have unintended consequences. Sure, most targets will be command and control positions but hardened facilities require large munitions, resulting inevitably in significant collateral damage. Even so-called precise weapons are imprecise. The New York Times published a piece that claimed 98% of drone strike victims in Pakistan were civilians, not intended militants. Sadly, everyone in a bombsight is the enemy. The NYT writers noted that violent shows of American force solidified the power of radicals in targeted areas,
"While violent extremists may be unpopular, for a frightened population they seem less ominous than a faceless enemy that wages war from afar and often kills more civilians than militants."
Similar reactions have been evident in other nations where the USA kills with drones. Contrary to Obama's implication, an assault on Syria will not be over in two or three days. This is not a video game that can be turned off or rebooted.

Intending to stop the bloodshed in Syria, Barack Obama and the neo-con hawks, the guys applauding more than a decade of continuous war, aim to do additional, but worthy, humanitarian killing in Syria. It's a dangerous path to follow, more deadly than doing nothing.

So what's another alternative? International sanctions have not been wholly successful but they have not been abject failures. The first aim of peacemakers is to stop the flow of arms and equipment that facilitate warfare. Those come from many G20 nations. Additionally, the civilized world must enforce trade embargoes on all goods except for what JFK called, in the Cuban missile crisis, the necessities of life. Here was Kennedy's first direction on October 22, 1962:
"To halt this offensive buildup a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948."
Is it possible to isolate Assad's Syria? Not completely but sanctions could be effective - Syria's immediate neighbours are American allies -  if western governments would take actions against enterprises that do international dirty business. Instead, typical sanctions are applied on the basis of "Wink wink nudge nudge. Say no more, say no more." By example,
"Member of German Companies Presiding Board: 'Ignore Sanctions against Iran' "
The New York Times ran this piece a few months ago,
"Large amounts of computer equipment from Dell have been sold to the Syrian government through a Dubai-based distributor despite strict trade sanctions intended to ban the selling of technology to the regime..."
Truth is that sanctions only work when the nations imposing them are determined to make them work. If the British were serious, they would not have granted export licences for bulk chemicals useful for weapons. If American were resolute about Syria, Michael Dell would be in jail. But then, America is not in the habit of prosecuting billionaires, it prefers building and deploying armaments. That pleases the billionaires.

Strangely, some of the best commentary comes from humour site The Onion:
Experts Point To Long, Glorious History Of Successful U.S. Bombing Campaigns



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7 comments:

  1. Excellent post. I read that during WWI, Krupp industries made a killing selling armaments to all sides of the conflict. The situation a hundred years later has not changed at all. Einstein said that war will end when young people refuse to be weapons of war, but we must also sanction the weapon makers.

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  2. @ Anon. I don't think it was Krupp but General Motors. Likewise Oerlikon guns from Sweden were used by both sides. And let's not forget George w. Bush's grandfather, Prescott, was a banker for the Nazis.

    @ Norm. Our hypocrisy is breathtaking. How many civilians did Israeli forces kill in Gaza during their last romp there? How many died from white phosphorus shells? How many civilians have died in Lebanon from cluster bomblets delivered by Israel in the hours before the last scheduled ceasefire there?

    How is it we sit by as five million civilians are slaughtered in places like the Congo and the butchery of recent civil wars in Africa but we get inflamed over Syria?

    And it's rich for the Americans to be going on about chemical warfare when their depleted uranium from tank shells and aerial cannon continues to cause cancer and birth defects in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Americans still haven't cleaned up the Agent Orange mess they bequeathed to Vietnam, a chemical weapon that is expected to persist in effectiveness for up to 600-years. That's six centuries worth of ongoing chemical warfare.

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  3. I understand that Doctors w/o Borders put the casualties at 300-400, and I would accept their stats before any politicians. I will be looking up their count as I plan to post about this absurd situation.

    I just watched (I want to slap myself) some of the Sunday morning empty talking head clowns and everyone, especially Barry's CofStaff, kept talking about the "evidence." What effing evidence? All I've seen is pictures/videos of dead people, or people dying of what appears to be gas and I accept that it is very likely people died of poison gas, but where is the evidence of WHO administered or ordered the gas to be administered. It is so much like showing a picture of a murdered corpse and claiming that is proof of who killed it.

    Not to mention that under Ronnie Raygun's watch Saddam gassed many more folks, not to mention the Kurds he gassed under Bu$h Sr., with America's blessing, if not using US supplied gas.

    After yellow cake, Colin Powell squandering his credibility at the UN, the false claim Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 (I would be more likely to believe Bu$h/Cheney were involved) and his links to Al Queada - persona non grata in Iraq, until Saddam was gone and of course now Iraq is Shite, which Saddam tamped down (and now Iraq is Iran's bitch), not to mention the imaginary mushroom clouds referred to by Dickhead Cheney and the dumbest Russian expert on earth, CondoLeeza OilTanker Rice. I call it Syria Hysteria and it hasn't made me forget about all the NSA and other US spying on EVERYBODY on the planet..................

    To distract people from the revelations of Snowden, Manning etc. and of course make money for the usual Military/Industrial/Corporate masters of the universe, that's what it is all about.

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  4. As expected our war mongering PM is thumping his chest and advocating Canadian participation in retaliatory action against Assad. This country of ours is run by a bunch of clowns and we can can only hope that this circus will leave town soon. Harper is a gutless suit who wouldn't be capable of marching up a beach with out throwing himself in the drainage position and pleading to god to make it all go away but he sure doesn't have a problem sending someone else to do his dirty work.

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  5. Going to war in Syria is crazy and cruel. Stevie slime needs his head examined. it says, thou shalt not kill. It doesn't say thou shalt not kill those who agree with you. there are no if ands or buts about it.

    Stevie needs to consider the Canadian veterans are still suing him/the federal government over the lack of coverage they received regarding their injuiries. Perhaps stevie would like to loose his two legs and a ball, then he can talk about war. Right now the solider who suffered these injuiries, is suing Canada to get a fair deal.

    It would appear it was o.k. to kill the first 100K Syrians but not the last group. Dead is dead, murdered is murdered. Bombing Syria is not going to change anything, beyond killing more Syrians who Assad and his elites don't care about. What is the point?

    Your article is excellent. Real trade embargos are needed. They most likely will not be implemented because they cost corporations money, but bombs make corporations money.

    Suddenly Obama, stevie and others want to go to war with Syria because they allege 1400 people were killed by chemicals. Well here is a news flash for those boys, about that many people die each week in the U.S.A. due to drunk driving and guns, not to mention the lack of medical care. So when can we get to war on that stuff. If stevie slime is all upset about the alleged 1,400 deaths due to chemicals perhaps he can show the same amount of concern for the First Nations children in Canada who die because of gasoline sniffing and drugs made with chemicals.

    If the other countries are so concerned about Syria perhaps they could transfer their concern to Syrian citizens. A few million are sitting in other countries in refugee camps. Half of them are children who need education, shelter, food, etc. Their host countries can not afford it all. the G 20 countries need to step up and provide financial assistance in settling the Syrians in other countries. If the problem of refugees is left to fester the world will have more problems than just the civil war in Syria.

    What is rather amusing is stevie slime is so against what is going on in Syria and wants the U.S.A. and others to go drop a few bombs. it is China and Russia who are opposed. Now lets look at China and stevie. It looks like stevie will permit the sale of a second oil/tar Canadian company to be sold to China. Along with the military agreement stevie has signed with China and the farm land which is being sold, you gotta wonder. Hey stevie slime, why are you so gung ho about doing business with China when they are the ones who are against doing anything about Syria.

    It maybe the U.S.A. and other are concerned about chemical warfare becoming an accepted form of warfare. If that were to happen, North Korea may use it on South Korea and Japan. The Russians and China don't mind using it. Putin has a few militants he'd like to use it on and China, who knows. They'd probably like to produce it.

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  6. I find it somewhat revolting that after the US admitted it lied about the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Sadaam Hussein's Iraq as the impetus to start a 2nd Gulf war....

    We are now expected to believe the US "experts" about Syria's "Chemical Weapons".

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me........

    Perhaps that is why the Brits, the French and even Steven Harper aren't willing to get "burned" by possible US propaganda. The US Govt lost a lot of credibility with its allies and its going to take years to get it back.

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  7. It may not be just the "lack of trust" that is at issue. It maybe the lack of funds. A protracted war is expensive. It cost a lot of money. Britian and France are part of the ero zone and they have enough problems without getting into a war the can't afford.

    The U.S.A. is in as bad a financial situation but the republicans can always be counted on to raise the debt ceiling if the funding is for killing people.

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