Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weapons of Mass Distraction

No, sorry, but nerve gas is not a Weapon of Mass Destruction™. It is a battlefield weapon, which is not inherently any more massively destructive than bullets or bombs. It kills people over a limited area for a short time, then it blows away. The people are no more or less dead than people who get blown up by bombs or shot with bullets.

Now, it so happens that there are international conventions against use of chemical weapons, but there are also international conventions against bombing and shooting civilians. Something like 100,000 people have already died in the Syrian conflict, an accomplishment credited entirely to guns and bombs. The United States has not seen any need to blow up stuff and people in Syria throughout this carnage.

So now, apparently, for reasons that admittedly are a bit hard to see, the Syrian military has used organophosphate gas to kill a lot of people in a Damascus suburb. If they had just dropped bombs on the people, that would have been fine. But, since the people were poisoned rather than pulverized, the U.S. is compelled to do some bombing of its own.

The amount of bombing proposed is insufficient to change the course of the conflict, which we don't want to do anyway because we would probably like the new Syrian regime no more, and quite possibly rather less, than we like Bashar Assad. It might discourage Assad from further chemical attacks, but it won't discourage him from blowing people up because the message is precisely that blowing people up is perfectly okay. Cruise missiles cost $1 million each, which goes to Raytheon, so I'm sure they're happy.

Oh yeah. This will really piss off the Russians, who are just as capable of blowing up stuff and people as the U.S. This is not smart.

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