The simple reason why international intervention in Syria is necessary


8:30 am - August 27th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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There are a lot of good arguments against military intervention in Syria – ranging from the view that any intervention would only inflame the bloodshed to criticising specific proposals and scenarios for intervention.

I’m not denying that many of them have merit, even if a direct comparison to Afghanistan and or Iraq is ridiculous (to wit: the terrain and size is vastly different; there is strong support from other Arab countries; there’s no oil there). Furthermore, Syrians have been trying to bring attention to their plight for years. Besides, there is almost zero chance of UN or Nato soldiers landing in Syria for a similar ground war.

So the key argument for limited intervention now is about the specific usage of chemical weapons, not the long-running civil war itself. President Obama’s limited options means he can’t decisively finish off Assad, but he can at least punish him strongly for the recent escalation.

As the Washington Post points out:

Any U.S. military action, Carney said, would be a response to “the prohibited use of chemical weapons against civilians.” Kerry emphasized repeatedly that “there must be accountability for those who use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.” What he did not say at any point was that the United States would be entering the war to decisively end it or that the time had come for the world to remove Assad from power.

There is little reason to think that American cruise missiles or airstrikes will dramatically change the course of the war, much less topple Assad. The Assad regime has a huge military advantage over the rebels, and the fighting is city-to-city, neighborhood-to-neighborhood.

So let’s stop with the straw man that we are going for a full intervention in Syria.

The question for those against any intervention is: is it right to sit by and watch states use chemical or biological weapons against their people, setting a precedent for others to do the same?

Of course, the United States isn’t consistent on the matter since it kept silent when Israel has used them. But arguably, such united international condemnation makes it harder for the United States and Israel to use them in any form in the future too.

Either way, the case for united international action when a state use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons on people is powerful. For this simple reason alone there has to be strong action against Assad now or it sets a terrifying precedent for the future.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East

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Reader comments


Have we even ascertained that its the state using the chemical weapons? I seem to recall the very earliest reports a few months back which included horrowing pictures of a chemical attack victim were done by the rebellion forces.

Strangely these reports appear to have disappeared entirely, and so I’m now left to decide if I trust my own memory, or that of the internet.

Nobody in Syria voted for Cameron or Obama or any of the rest of their warmongering crew and it’s none of their business. They’ve already killed enough civilians in countries they had no right to be in. They need to stop.

Syria is key for oil PIPELINES from Iraq, Kuwait, Caspian.

Syria provides Russia with a naval base in the Med.

Hence it is a geopolitical prize, lets not dismiss it as an irrelevant backwater.

Why not assassinate Assad since drone murders around the world are standard US policy?

There is no “undeniable” proof that chemical weapons were used (no, YouTube videos, “smuggled samples” and highly partial “eye-witness” accounts are not “evidence”) and no proof that if they were, the rebels weren’t using them. They did before, in the view of Carla Da Ponte. There is, beyond this, a simple reason not to launch attacks on Syria. If you want to save the lives of Syrians, doing something that kills even more of them is counter-productive. Obviously.

the US and other internationals have been interfering in Syria …. mostly keeping Assad in charge as a “friendly or at least compliant” ally in the region

so what should they do now?

6. Paul peter Smith

The air inside the Westminster bubble must be contaminated with nerve agents.
Not only is there no EVIDENCE the regime are guilty of this attack, there’s barely a motive.
Why give their enemies the perpect opportunity to interfere that thay have been desperately trying to engineer for over a year?
Why would the Assad regime wait until UN inspectors are in country a few km’s away?
Why would Assad use such a risky tactic when he’s winning?
Why doesnt it matter that there are many more reports of rebels using chemical weapons?
Why do Politicians think their war crimes are different from other peoples?
I notice Tony Blair, in his middle east peace envoy role, thinks we should ‘get stuck in’ again. Well thats me convinced, if a man of TB’s integrity and track record thinks we should kill some more foreigners, how can we go wrong?

Well, I for one am glad we have a “simple” reason for “limited international intervention”, because I imagined it might be more complicated.

Now, what form should this limited intervention take?

1. there is no proof – Kerry’s points were just the same as Powell’s evidence at the UN. However, this was also not a dispassionate briefing but deliberately spun for the ‘dying children’ angle – same as the fake baby hospital story in Bahrain. While doubt remains, and particularly where we cannot determine who used the weapons, we can’t act.
2. Supporting even limited military action against the guilty party (when determined) has nothing to do with a moral superiority. Have the US assumed full responsibility for the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam? Depleted Uranium in Falluja? Cluster bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan? Past and continuing use of extrajudicial assassination as a military tactic? Use of torture and the classification of POWs as illegal combatants?
3. The idea of ‘precedence’ already has no meaning. No military action or punitive strikes were made against Israel after their use of white phosphorus against flagged UN shelters or cluster bombs. No action taken against Saddam when he used them in the war with Iran (as he was supported by the US).
4. The idea that the US are the self-appointed world police. Any military action without UN approval would be illegal – which means that they are not the police, but vigilantes. Re-read Hague’s statement from yesterday – his argument is the perfect argument for all forms of vigilantism, “the law doesn’t work so I am the law”. The problem with that is the laws were made just to stop such action from taking place. Any unilateral (I’m including the US+ idea here) action can escalate really fast and that’s why we have those laws, so that we don’t have permanent members squaring off over an indirect conflict.
5. There is no military solution to this conflict, and now as the war has gone beyond revolution to tribal and religious divides, any solution must address all the major players in the region, sunni and shia. Smart weapons are incredibly expensive – if even a fraction of that money were used to bring the parties to the table, that would be a start.
6. Limited punitive strikes serve no purpose – every time the US has done this it has either been counter-productive or in itself arguably a war-crime.
7. There are indications that the rebels have used tactical chemical weapons (reported by some sources as a ‘mistake’ as they probably captured a shell and didn’t know). If they use the weapons, would the US hit them with air strikes as well? Why not?
8. War crimes have been documented on both sides, with horrific loss of life, and yet no action has been taken. Hundreds if not thousands of civilians are being killed, and rebels have threatened genocide against Assad’s entire tribe. Nothing has been done. So why now, and why so quickly? The stated US motive makes no sense.

Now, what form should this limited intervention take?

Aerial bombing of key military targets. Could go further and establish a No Fly Zone too.

I find these people who claim there is ‘no proof’ of a chemical attack utterly ludicrous. Are you saying that all these incidents have been conjured up by a vast media conspiracy?

Or that the rag-tag rebel army, which has so far been unable to take out Assad, is doing to their own people in a conspiracy to get the US to attack?

10. George King

Don’t hold your breath Sunny. They’ve stood by whilst 100,000 have been killed and 4 million turned into refugees and of course there’s not much oil there either and they don’t want to upset Putin or highlight their hypocrisy re the Palestinian refugees. They’ll lob in a few cruise missiles and Assad will go back to conventional mass murder. Any intervention will be motivated entirely by political expediency in the face of public outrage but with no self-interest there will be no conviction behind it.

The question for those in favour of limited intervention is: is it right to further increase the death toll for Syria’s civilians? There’s no precedent to be set here, the UK and US have been consistently trigger happy when it comes to dropping bombs on regimes they don’t approve of.

12. Paul peter Smith

Sunny
No one is claiming an attack didn’t happen, just that no one has any proof who did it so lets not bomb anyone just yet. Anything out of Kerry/Hague’s mouth carries same weight as Powell/Blair Iraq lies.
As for the cuddly rebels not wanting to hurt anyone, seriously? Who are the refugee’s really fleeing from, the Shia, Christian, Secular ones I mean? They never felt the need to run from Assad before, could it be that not too many ‘rebels’ actually know their way around Syria, never having been there before.

I’m not convinced. Read the news in the international media.

Day after day there are serial reports of scores of mostly Muslims being killed by other Muslims in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Libya, Algeria etc besides Syria.

On the evidence, Muslims are committed to killing people with whom they have differences of opinion in large numbers to resolve their political or religious disputes. Muslims are demonstrably incapable of living peacefully with one another and settling differences of political or religious outlook by politicial process. Why just pick arbitrarily on the use of gas to justify intervention by the west?

The people most likely to make the most of the weakening of Assad’s military capabilities are the Jihadists, Assad’s most effective enemies. Own goal, once again.

15. Richard Carey

@ 8 Michael,

“same as the fake baby hospital story in Bahrain”

Do you mean Kuwait?:

“In fact, the most emotionally moving testimony (to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus) on October 10 came from a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah. According to the Caucus, Nayirah’s full name was being kept confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, she described what she had seen with her own eyes in a hospital in Kuwait City. Her written testimony was passed out in a media kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait. “I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital,” Nayirah said. “While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where … babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.”

Three months passed between Nayirah’s testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. “Of all the accusations made against the dictator,” MacArthur observed, “none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City.”

At the Human Rights Caucus, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos had failed to reveal that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. Her father, in fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US, who sat listening in the hearing room during her testimony. The Caucus also failed to reveal that H&K vice-president Lauri Fitz-Pegado had coached Nayirah in what even the Kuwaitis’ own investigators later confirmed was false testimony.”

http://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html

16. George King

~11 `The question for those in favour of limited intervention is: is it right to further increase the death toll for Syria’s civilians?’

Clearly you are a comedian.

Salman: The question for those in favour of limited intervention is: is it right to further increase the death toll for Syria’s civilians?

I’d like to know how bombing Assad’s military bases and enforcing a No Fly Zone would increase civilian casualties from the current rate.

the same hypocritical argument we hear every time. the intervention is ONLY demanded in cases of countries we in the west already have wanted to overthrow for years. countries like Bahrain,Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian military can do what they want and there will NEVER be a call for intervention. The Rwandan tyrant supported by the west can back rebels who slaughter tens of thousands in the eastern congo and there will be no action at all. we were told once we overthrew saddam the west would start to put pressure on western sponsored middle eastern tyrannies like Saudi ,did that happen ? no . same for Bahrain.

19. Remembering Goldwater

"I’d like to know how bombing Assad’s military bases and enforcing a No Fly Zone would increase civilian casualties from the current rate."
I do not think that Salman was referring to a No Fly Zone.
If there are bombing and missile raids on Assad’s bases, there are likely to be more civilian casualties and the conflict could well escalate bringing more deaths and personal injuries.
Unlike Iraq under Saddam, Assad has a modern and fairly formidable air defence system.

Is not wanting Iran on the winning side a valid case for intervention?

Sunny, I’m not a pacifist and I’m not morally opposed to a one-off strike on a military facility in and of itself, but do you really think that will be the result of this escalation to intervention? Was Libya’s no fly zone free from civilian casualties? Or Iraq’s?

Playing devil’s advocate here, and not supporting in any way what the Assad regime has done, but….

Are we sure it was the regime which used these chemical weapons? I only ask because it makes little tactical or strategic sense. The regime was winning the war, so what purpose does killing civilians with chemical weapons, sure to provoke a western military response have? To make sure the US/UK/France bomb/cruise missile the hell out of his airforce and other military units?

There might be some ulterior motive, to try and bring other countries (Iran, Russia or China maybe) into a more generalised war, but that is a bit of a Hail Mary pla.y Any strategist would probably understand that the most likely result is attack from the west using standoff weapons like Tomahawk cruise missiles, causing great damage to the Syrian militayr for no gain, and low cost to the west.

On another note, it is extremely unlikely the west will engage in a aerial bombing campaign past cruise missiles. The Syrian airforce is fairly strong, with 500+ fighter aircraft of varying degrees of modernity (indeed a larger force than the RAF). They also have significant ground based air defences, with again 500 ish static and mobile SAM launchers, some very up to date, good radar cover as well as large numbers of anti-aircraft guns. It would be a lot more costly for the west to attack Syria in comparison to Iraq, which had fairly old and run down air defences. It’s a whole different ball game.

“I’d like to know how bombing Assad’s military bases and enforcing a No Fly Zone would increase civilian casualties from the current rate.”

It’ll weaken Assad hastening the victory for the same rag tag rebel army (which are increasingly being siphoned off into al Qeada) you mention above. This will lead to score settling, more conflict as they all turn on each other and millions more displaced, 100,000s more dead.

‘Limited’ air strikes wont resolve this conflict. Nor is it reasonable to expect mission creep won’t set in and we end up with another yet deadlier Libya.

Are we sure it was the regime which used these chemical weapons? I only ask because it makes little tactical or strategic sense. The regime was winning the war, so what purpose does killing civilians with chemical weapons, sure to provoke a western military response have?

Pretty much this. As far as the usage of chemical weapons goes the Rebels pretty much have carte blanche to chuck as much around as they like, since it’ll quickly be blamed on Assad, before anyone bothers to check.

“Aerial bombing of key military targets. Could go further and establish a No Fly Zone too.”

So you want to kill people?

I wouldn’t trust John Kerry one iota.
There is far too much subterfuge going on in Syria anyway. Who fired at the UN people yesterday? Both sides blamed the other.
Whoever wins this war, the country is broken.
I was working with a Turkish guy today who blamed Israel. What’s the point in winding people like that up?

Or maybe go ahead and bomb the Syrian defence ministry building. It might make people feel good for a short while.

Could someone hurry up and pay a defecting Syrian army soldier to say that he ‘saw Assads forces launching the chemical weapons’? That way everyone can sleep easy whilst “shock and awe” is launched.

Sunny’s point re CW is moot since precedent was set with response to Israels use of CW – its okay to use CW against civilians within your borders.

Question is how to minimise the loss of civilian lives? Surely we should be paying for as many civilians to get out of Syria as possible and protected in neighbouring countries. Temporary no fly zones

Here’s an article and a lecture by Walden Bello about humanitarian intervention:

(2011) The Crisis of Humanitarian Intervention, Foreign Policy in Focus
http://fpif.org/the_crisis_of_humanitarian_intervention/

(2011) Humanitarian Intervention: A Legitimate Enterprise?, St Mary’s University
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shbaYZeeITk

28. Matthew Blott

Sunny,

You said …

“I find these people who claim there is ‘no proof’ of a chemical attack utterly ludicrous. Are you saying that all these incidents have been conjured up by a vast media conspiracy?”

I’m afraid the answer is yes. I am no longer surprised by the utter bollocks I hear from people – including liberal minded friends – about false flag operations orchestrated by Isreal (who else?).

Salman,

You state you aren’t opposed to military action in all circumstances but this is the familiar qualifying statement I always hear from those opposed to doing anything. I’ve read your comments a few times and I doubt there’s any time you’ve been in favour of military action. I have misgivings myself but if a chemical attack on civilians isn’t enough reason then what is? After the horror of the First World War chemical attacks in war zones have been pretty rare and failure to act now could be seen as a green light to their use.

29. Richard Carey

“I hear from people – including liberal minded friends – about false flag operations orchestrated by Isreal (who else?).”

Could this be the first attempt to accuse those who oppose military intervention of anti-semitism? Now all we need is a reference to Neville Chamberlain and we can move on.

P.S. The correct spelling is: Israel

After the horror of the First World War chemical attacks in war zones have been pretty rare and failure to act now could be seen as a green light to their use.

Well, as long as you classify willie peat as not being a chemical weapon anyway.

I find this particular red line in the sand awfully convenient. It’s fine for Assad to be responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Syrians, as long as those deaths were brought about with guns and bombs, but the minute he’s commits the (unprovable) offence of using chemical weapons, we simply have to do something.

I’ll also point out that if the government goes to war in Syria it will totally give the lie to all their claims about having no money to spend. We always find money for bullets and bombs, don’t we?

33. Matthew Blott

@ Cylux

I said the use of chemical weapons was rare I didn’t say it never happened. And it’s even rarer that we see anything like the nerve agents used in WWI.

@33 There’s a good reason for that. They were shit at their job. Bombs and bullets are far more efficient and effective means to victory. Not to mention that the delivery method of nerve agents needs to be precise, as demonstrated quite a few times in the great war when those who released mustard gas ended up choking on it when the wind blew it back in their faces, and if you’re going to be precise enough to effective delivery nerve agents to the enemy, you might as well blow them to pieces instead. That’s why Hitler had gas chambers, nerve agents weren’t a worthwhile battlefield asset.

Plus there is some irony in the USA running to save Syrians from chemical weapons when they themselves employed agent orange in Vietnam and White Phosphorous, cunningly classified as an incendiary weapon since it (chemically) burns, in Fallujah.

35. Matthew Blott

@ Cylux

The US hasn’t been rushing to help Syrians (if only, some would say). I suspect you’ve been watching too much Russia Today.

You’re right Matthew, there are very few occasions on which I could imagine myself to be in favour of military action. At the end of the day, I’m as concerned about loss of life as you are, and my biggest fear is that Western intervention will make for a much bloodier situation. This isn’t the Iraq war, I admit it’s not as clear cut politically, that’s why you have people like Sunny and James Bloodworth who opposed the invasion of Iraq but are now in favour of Western intervention. I think they make compelling arguments, but I set my just war bar a bit higher because I believe that Western intervention will cause a greater loss of life. If I’m wrong on this, I’ll be the first to admit it, but Britain and America have not had a good track record of intervening in other countries bloodlessly.

@35 Ad hom for the win eh?

Try this in the news

Israeli forces have demolished a number of Palestinian houses and structures in the Jordan Valley, as Tel Aviv continues efforts to expand its illegal settlements, Press TV reports.

Israeli forces raided the village of Faqeh near the city of Jericho, destroying a number of houses.

Nearly 50,000 Palestinians live in the part of the Jordan Valley that lies inside the West Bank. The city of Jericho is one of the many permanent Palestinian communities in the area.
http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/06/30/311547/israel-demolishes-more-palestinian-homes/

Of course, escalation of the Syrian conflict would be hugely helpful cover for the Israeli programme to demolish Palestinain homes in order to build mew Israeli settlements.

In a BBCR4 News at 1 o’clock on Tuesday, the chairman of the HOC Foreign Affairs Committee said that much of the incoming intelligence about the gas attacks in Syria had come from Israeli sources, which had also provided suggested targets for possible air strikes.

Ho Hum. What sense does it make to kill more Muslims to show how much we disapprove of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war?

Far better to express our moral outrage by donating what would be the cost of the missiles and bombs to the UN refugeee relief agency to better care for Syrian asylum seekers in the refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and northern Iraq.

@38 It’d also be a good distraction from the recent Guardian/Snowden stories, if you’re after conspiratorial motives.

Robert Fisk in the Independent has just made the pertinent point that if the USA & Co attack Syria, they will be fighting on the same side as al Qaeda, as both wish to see Assad defeated. Will they be sharing battlefield intelligence? One of history’s little ironies, and our Sunny wants this stunt to go ahead.

41. Matthew Blott

Yes I do accuse (some of) those opposed to military action of anti-semitism. There’s a lot of it about, sadly too many on the left no longer notice and, worse, are often complicit. Listen to the clown Galloway here …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPzvy808pr8

The above link is from Press TV unsurprisingly which I have been told tells us what the MSM (I had to ask when someone phrased it as this and was told it stands for “Mainstream Media”) ignores. When I point out that perhaps the “MSM” ignore the sorts of stories that appear on Press TV, Alex Jones and every idiot conspiracy site I am told I need to view is because they care about their reputations and have editorial checks on their stories I am met with bluster.

P.S. I know how to spell Israel thank you.

Salman, thanks for the reply but I’m not sure how things could get any worse. I’ll repeat the question: if a chemical attack on civilians isn’t enough reason [to intervene] then what is?

39

“@38 It’d also be a good distraction from the recent Guardian/Snowden stories, if you’re after conspiratorial motives.”

To all appearances in the news, the Obama and Cameron are hell bent on bombing Syria regardless. In the US, Congress won’t get to have a say.

Israel will be mightily pleased and start building even more illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. And there will be many and profound regrets for all the “collateral” human casualties of the bombing.

Meanwhile, who is paying to look after the Syrian refugees in the camps in Turkey, Jordan and Northern Iraq?

43. Paul peter Smith

@41 Mathew Blott
There certainly is a lot of anti-semitism about at the moment. Especially that directed toward the semitic Palestinians by the ethnically mostly non-semitic Israeli’s.

44. Cymrhydyceirw

@41.
Some antifascists are unpatriotic so should we condemn all antifascists?
Oh, things will get a lot worse.
You mention WWI. Are you aware of how the Middle East was carved up by the victors of the ‘Great War’?

45. Matthew Blott

@ Paul peter Smith

*rolls eyes*

46. Richard Carey

@ Blott,

would you support ‘intervention’ against the rebels if the evidence points to them having used chemical weapons? I’m just wondering how consistent you are on this issue.

47. Paul peter Smith

@45 Mathew Blott
Good point, I hadn’t considered that!
Your ennui puts into perspective all the suffering of actual semites at the hands of re-branded semites since 1948. If only I had
understood that before your telling riposte, thats me told!

Are we sure it was the regime which used these chemical weapons? I only ask because it makes little tactical or strategic sense. The regime was winning the war, so what purpose does killing civilians with chemical weapons, sure to provoke a western military response have?

This is the key point. If we accept that combatants usually act rationally, in their own interest, a chemical attack by the Assad side makes no sense.

The prior coordinated Western response demonstrates that this is a put up job. Cameron seems utterly determined to have his “cruise missile” moment and it is disappointing not to seem him opposed by those allegedly on the left.

Alistair/26: precedent was set with response to Israels use of CW – its okay to use CW against civilians within your borders.

That particular precedent was set quite some time before that! Tear gas and pepper spray have been routinely and openly used against civilians by their own governments for a very long time.

48.

Cameron seems utterly determined to have his “cruise missile” moment

If Cameron wants to fire an American missile at a target determined by the USA, he should buy it using his own money and place on record that the weapon is his and not Britain’s.

Matthew, around 1,300 people were killed in the chemical attack. Around a million people died as a result of the Iraq war, according to the ORB survey, 654,965 up till 2006 according to the Lancet survey – whichever figure you use, far too many! Now this is a different ball game to Iraq, granted, but civilian casualties seem to me to be an inevitability of Western intervention and I can’t see how it wouldn’t only further inflame the situation and lead to the ever downward spiral of violence we’ve seen so many times before. If you can’t imagine how things couldn’t get any worse, then you have a short memory.

Where is intervention acceptable? I’m going to have to break Godwin’s law and throw out the Second World War as one of the few examples of a just war that spring to mind, a war of defence against a genocidal aggressor. Syria’s civil war is a human tragedy, but it is an internal armed conflict, not the systematic eradication of an unarmed people by the state, not a major power invading weak neighbours. And while the conflict is clearly imbalanced, I would say it is more akin to the situation in Israel/Palestine. I don’t see any Western leaders even calling for sanctions against Israel, let alone limited military intervention, for its disproportionate response to Palestinian violence and its violations of international law. You want a consistent answer from opponents of intervention, that’s fair enough, but I would like to see some consistency in thinking from proponents of intervention too.

Those of you who think it is inconceivable that the Syrian rebels use CW – why? It is known that al-Qa’ida and other Islamists are significant forces among the rebels – these people aren’t known for their scruples, are they?

In May, Carla del Ponte (former UN chief prosecutor at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal) blamed the rebels for CW ( http://rt.com/news/un-syria-rebels-chemical-weapons-854/ ).

Turkish forces arrested Syrian rebels who were transporting sarin gas, allegedly with the intention of using it ( http://www.todayszaman.com/news-316966-report-police-foil-al-nusra-bomb-attack-planned-for-adana.html ).

And in June, Iraqi forces found an al-Qa’ida cell that was manufacturing CW and planning its possible export to neighbouring countries ( http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/06/20136117362322130.html ).

Skinny guys who cant throw out a single push up should not be talking about war, but as clueless as you are, if you had witnessed such an event you would have ran to those peoples aids without protective clothing and without any respirators.

That you would have walked away without death or the slightest injury, as is the documented fact of those first on scene responders, I am aware you are to stupid to understand the implications of.

“So let’s stop with the straw man that we are going for a full intervention in Syria.”

Oh, come on, they said exactly the same about Libya… these types of statements should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“Is it right to sit by and watch states use chemical or biological weapons against their people”

If an intervention would actually make the situation worse, for example by extending the war into a wider war between Hezbollah/Iran and Israel, killing many times more people (even if with conventional munitions), I think there’s a strong case for a “yes” answer there.

RP: “Those of you who think it is inconceivable that the Syrian rebels use CW – why?”

I don’t think it’s inconceivable that they would at all. But in this case, even assuming the worst motives in the world on the part of the rebels:

– Wide area deployment of these weapons (which appears to have happened) generally requires planes. The rebels have no planes. The alternative would be lots of simultaneous deployments at ground level; very difficult without killing your own troops.

– Would they seriously target areas which support them? Their only strength is in their popular support in these sorts of areas. If they lose that, they have very little chance of success. If they were considering using chemical weapons, I’d expect them to do so against army bases or at least Alawite areas where Assad’s support is strongest.

“If we accept that combatants usually act rationally, in their own interest, a chemical attack by the Assad side makes no sense.”

It absolutely makes sense. They are not trying to rule by consensus. They need to re-establish deterrence against rebellion, or the war will go on at a low level for decades. An attack such as this sends a message to the ethnic/sectarian groups allied to the rebels that if they continue to allow their sons to fight their whole families will die in the most horrible way. They also hate these people at a really basic ethnic level. That should not be underestimated.

They may have calculated, perhaps wrongly, that the most NATO would do would be a small strike (they may be right), because a large-scale war would pull in Israel and Iran. A limited US strike, or even better sabre-rattling followed by nothing, would have great advantages for them propaganda-wise, allowing them to cast themselves as anti-imperialist heroes.

Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 because of treaty obligations to defend Poland against invasion and Germany had invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. By the end of the ensuing conflict, an estimated 55 million people had been killed. And that was a “moral war”. Poland’s war dead alone are estimated at more than 6 million.

Try this in Wednesday’s Guardian:

Former UK military chiefs voice objections to Syria attacks

Leading figures warn of unintended consequences, but foreign policy analysts insist red line crossed
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/27/military-syria-attacks

Also in Wednesday’s news: Baghdad hit by new wave of deadly bomb attacks – “A series of co-ordinated bombings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad has killed at least 44 people and wounded dozens more, police and medical sources have said.” [BBC website]

What does Cameron propose to do about that?

Even Elizabethans recognised the hazards of starting wars: “Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war” [Shakespeare: Julius Caesar]

Quote:

The bulk of evidence proving the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons – which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action – has been provided by Israeli military intelligence, the German magazine Focus has reported. [Guardian report 28 August 2013]

If the Syrian conflict escalates, that will be effective cover for building yet more Israeli settlements on Palestinian land on the West Bank.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Israeli forces to immediately end the “unlawful demolition” of homes belonging to Palestinians in the occupied territories.
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/08/27/320752/hrw-urges-israel-to-end-demolitions/

What is Cameron proposing to do about that?

which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action

Can someone point me to the documentation that states its illegal or a war crime for said country to use those weapons domestically? I keep hearing “legal grounds”…someone would be useful in explaining that, cheers.

Yea,

Can someone point me to the documentation that states its illegal or a war crime for said country to use those weapons domestically? I keep hearing “legal grounds”…someone would be useful in explaining that, cheers.

Syria is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol which prohibits poison gases and suchlike (interestingly Syria is one of five or six states that are not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention). I don’t know what legal ‘cover’ this gives states that want to intervene.

So there is a story that a ‘UN official’ has claimed it was the rebels that used chemical weapons. Suppose it is true that it was the rebels. Do we ‘intervene’ against them?

63. Robin Levett

@Cylux #30:

Well, as long as you classify willie peat as not being a chemical weapon anyway.

Well that was easy – it’s not.


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