Obama said that Assad using gas in Syria would be a red line. Then he muttered that he could not tell which shade of pink it was. However French laboratories determined and French foreign minister Fabius, an ex-PM, declared officially, that chemical weapons were used in Syria by Assad. Many times. The neurotoxic agent is Sarin.
Time to go to war. War is the force that defines civilization.
Why to make nerve agent a casus belli? First, chemicals are unfair weapons: one cannot surrender to a gas cloud. Second, militarized chemicals also allow mass killings, cheaply, and readily (in the Nazi extermination camps, most of assassinations happened using deadly gas made by IG Farben, a chemical cartel created by Wall Street in the 1920s).
France hates chemical weapons.
In World War First on 22 April 1915, the German Army released 168 tons of chlorine, north of the Belgian town of Ypres. It formed a gray-green cloud that drifted across a division of French from Martinique and Algeria. Some tried to flee. They got asphyxiated while running. Within ten minutes, more than 5,000 French troops were gazed to death. Yes, in minutes, five thousands dead: analogies with Auschwitz are invited.
That massacre left a 7,000 meter gap in the Allied frontline. However, the German infantry, wary of the gas, failed to exploit the breach as much as the criminals who ordered them around wanted them to.
Other Canadian and French troops were rushed in. The Germans reapplied gas. In spite of various counter-measures against the gas, the Canadians suffered 1,800 dead from the chlorine by 24th April.
(Canadians? Were where the “Americans”? They were at peace, and would take another two years to threaten fascist Germany with words: the closest adviser of USA president Wilson had proposed an alliance with Germany in 1914! Thus we can see that World War One happened, in part, because the USA played Germany against France and Britain. Same old, same old.)
The allies called the German usage of gas a war crime. International treaties outlawed the usage of chemicals in shells. The Germans argued disingenuously that the gas had been released from “canisters” not “shells”. Fascists are disingenuous, or they are not.
Because the element of surprise was passed, never again during the war was a gas attack so successful. The Allied Democracies, especially the Brits (up-wind in Flanders!) had to retaliate in kind: only gas could stop those who used it. All together 100,000 soldiers died from gas, right away, and one million were handicapped for life (most dying in the following years).
France, Britain and Canada screamed loudly that the Prussian General staff was a gang of criminals.
Yet after the war, under pressure from the glandularly deprived, and soon stroke struck USA president Wilson, obvious German war criminals of the First World war, starting with the Kaiser and the four generals and two admirals who had plotted the war, as early as December 1912, were not prosecuted.
That Colonel House, Wilson’s grey eminence, had proposed an American-British-German world domination deal to the Kaiser, on May 1, 1914, obviously inflected American policy thereafter. In particular from 1919, all the way to 1942. don’t be surprised if this sort of history is not taught in pro-plutocratic Harvard.
The non-prosecution of gross war criminality in World War I opened the way to Auschwitz. In the first few weeks of the German invasion, Belgian and French civilians were made hostage to military death threats, and then summarily executed in retaliation (for whatever).
Clearly, the generals who ordered the usage of gas on April 22, 1915, ought to have been judged, condemned and executed. And if there were 500 “Prussian” colonels, and generals to be executed, that should have been done. Their successors would have been in turn, more enthusiastic at executing the Nazis in a timely manner.
Sometimes, civilization is all about executions.
(A dark Obama, his wings laden with smart bombs just passed by. This one has been told to man battlefields exclusively, if he is really as smart as he wants the rabble to believe he is.)
How did the Germans become the greatest, less excusable, mass criminals of the twentieth Century? By not being punished vigorously enough in a timely manner.
BASF chemist Fritz Haber, a Nobel Laureate, had developed the processes used to make ammonia. Haber came up with the idea of using chlorine gas as a weapon. After the war, Haber should have been caged like the wild and dangerous beast he was, and left there to eat dry bread and water for the next thirty years.
That would have emphasized Rabelais’ point, published in 1532 CE, that “Science without conscience is only ruin of the soul.” Instead, some people still harbor respect for Haber, that despicable degenerate, to this day. And please don’t tell me he is honorable because he made ammonia; somebody else would have.
Haber’s violation of international law and common human decency was one of the many moral compromises that foreshadowed greater horrors. As the world war Germany had deliberately started drained manpower from its chemical factories, Bayer Chief Executive Friedrich Carl Duisberg lobbied for a novel solution: importing forced labor from occupied Belgium.
In other words, all what came to be known as “Nazism” was taught to Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Goering’s generation by their forefathers. Their unpunished forefathers.
German fascism kept on going, through sheer mental inertia. It gazed more than ten million civilians in WWII.
The Germans, amusingly, were told never to do this again, and signed a very strong treaty about this, never using gas militarily. In 1944-1945, Adolf Hitler’s kingdom of the beasts was perforated by the invading armies of his enemies. Hitler, and the top Nazis knew they were going to die, and that their world of horror was being annihilated. They were total fanatics. Martha Goebbels, wife of ephemeral Reich Chancellor and propaganda chief Goebbels, would poison her six children (although some of her children tried to resist the monstrous author of their days).
Hitler disposed of dozens of thousands tons of stockpiled nerve agent, and the means to deliver them (hypersonic long range rockets and several types of jet bombers). Hitler used his V2 rockets to bomb London and Paris. He could have ordered to gas London and Paris. But Hitler had been gazed in 1918 (by the French). He knew the consequences would have been terrible: Germany would be gazed back, to start with. So the Nazis did not use gas. They did not even consider the usage of gas. On the battlefield.
A moderate mullah, Hassan Rouhani, was just elected president of Iran (on the first turn, by surprise). International sanctions on Iran have been so severe that Iranians chose someone who has always been keen to negotiate with the West (he had been fired from his nuclear negotiator role for being too keen that way).
The best way to encourage people to vote for moderates is by punishing firmly nasty people such as chemical Assad. The systematic use of chemicals cannot be left so unpunished that it keeps on being used. The mood of using gas, expecting to get away with it, could expand, spreading to other countries, in all sorts of ways.
There are of course many other reasons to go to war in Syria, some all the way back to 638 CE, when, after a four year war, characterized by the illness of the emperor, huge tactical blunders, and a lot of luck for the enemy, the Roman empire lost Syria. to fanatics. The best way to fight fanaticism is early on.
The Western military intervention in Syria will have to support only secular, anti-tyrannical forces. Assad knows this. So he (and co-plotting Iran) released craftily religious fanatics (Al Nusra) to pollute his own opposition and give him a Western palatable excuse to kill it. Another complication is that there is a triangle of hatred, mutual support, and co-dependence between the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt), the Saudi family (Arabia, oil), and Washington (Wall Street, Dollar, Plutocracy running amok). All these are invested in Syria.
Well, maybe it’s a good occasion to break the cycle. The USA’s oil production is becoming considerable, and the USA is not dependent of the Saudis anymore.
In any case, the usage of Sarin has made the situation clear and transparent. That, by itself, gives enough of a moral reason to go to war in Syria.
Don’t forget that the origin of the concept of morality is sustainability. A world were tyrants use weapons of mass destruction so that their wives can shop till they drop, is not sustainable.