Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Gas Schmas

It's interesting that the Assad regime's nerve gas attack on a village in Idlib has generated sudden outrage, including from people who thought Assad was just peachy until yesterday such as the White House resident. We're having an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and the U.S. is threatening to take unilateral action -- presumably meaning bombing some things and people -- if the UN doesn't act.

I agree that it is bad to attack civilians with poison gas. It is also bad to blow up 3,800 people using rockets and artillery shells, summarily execute tens of thousands in mass hangings, blow up hospitals and mosques, and starve people to death. The Assad regime did all of that, and more, before the nerve gas attack, which was apparently okay.

Look, I'm against all kinds of war. But to freak out over chemical weapons in this way is to imply that bombing, torturing and starving people is okay. This is an idiotic, meaningless distinction. We need to get over it.


Anonymous said...

You're absolutely correct in that this carnage has been going on for a long, long time.

Let's remember that there was a previous president that did not react this way to chemical weapons attacks or any of the other atrocities that you mentioned. A red line in the sand was drawn, was violated and nothing was ever mentioned about it. Surely this emboldened the Assad regime.

About the freaking out part: You're position seems to be that there should not be a distinction between chemical weapons and old fashioned killing.

That's a fair debate. However, would you also lump nuclear weapons, even small tactical ones, the same as conventional weapons? Most people wouldn't. We've seemed to think of nuclear based weapons as over the top. I think that's also how most think about chemical weapons as well.

Don Quixote said...

I just want to say--apropos of nothing and everything--that Trump, McConnell, Ryan, Bannon, Gorsuch and their ilk are complete fucking assholes, utterly hollow men, worthy of NO respect, spiritually and ethically bankrupt, and deserving of banishment to an island where they can fuck each other and die in utter oblivion :-)

"I'm Don Quixote, and I approve this message."

Cervantes said...

Absolutely, nuclear weapons are another matter altogether. But the habit of lumping chemical weapons in with nukes as "weapons of mass destruction" is preposterous. There is no meaningful difference in potential for lethality between chemical weapons and chemical explosives. We aren't talking about nukes here, that's irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Clearly after the missile strike on Syria in retaliation of Assad's chemical attack on civilians and the overwhelming bipartisan approval it received demonstrate that yours is a minority opinion.

I believe these same lawmakers were disappointed in the last president's lack of response to a similar, but larger chemical attack from the Assad regime.

Anonymous said...

I'm hesitant to have anything removed from the Verboten list. Perhaps we can make use of this to add new items to the list. For example, wouldn't bombing / shelling hospitals and schools of children be just as heinous as a chemical attack.

Bend the slippery slope to your will!
(Please unmix the metaphor for me, if you would.)

Cervantes said...

It already is. Bombing hospitals and bombing schools are war crimes. Yet nobody has chosen to respond to Assad's other war crimes. Why this one, specifically, all of a sudden? It's completely irrational.

Anonymous said...

Ummm....because chemical weapons are categorized as WMD?