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Horror in Syria

chemicalsWe have all been horrified by recent activities in Syria. People are rightly concerned and outraged after reports of chemical attacks.

But I was interested to see that Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican observer at the U.N. agencies in Geneva, including the U.N. Human Rights Commission, has said that rushed judgments in times of war and conflict, especially by the media, do not always lead to the truth and will not bring peace.

I would be very much with him in that.


I agree with him, as well.

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I'm sure the big powers in world politics know only too well the answers to your questions but have not the will to do anything about it. Why? Politics!

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You can likely find the formula on-line. Many of these compounds have been around for a long time, and any competent chemist could likely produce them. The precursor chemicals are used for other things, allowing Syria to legally import them. They have technically-trained people who can then do the chemical processes to make them into weapons. Technology, especially old technology, is not the exclusive provence of western or industrial nations.

As for "the battle against chemical weapons," that's like any "battle" against thing or a process: terror, crime, drugs, etc. Those are abstracts, it is people who use them. Easy to say "ban them," but how do you enforce that ban, except by force?

Edited at 2013-08-31 12:17 (UTC)

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'How do you enforce the ban, except by force'

This, I wish more people understood this. Every time I see the media rushing to get the 'headline' and manipulating their readers/viewers,followed by the inevitable cry for someone to do something, I shudder. There are other ways, other than military force, to show official condemnation of a regime.

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Agree with the not rushing in with military action. However part of my point was that that is likely the only option for "doing something" in this case. Generally a nation has a three tools at its disposal to influence another nation: force, persuasion, and money. A dictatorship can't be shamed into doing/not doing something, especially as right now Assad feels his survival is at stake. Economic action can work, but has to be universally enforced, and the Chinese and Russians will not impose sanctions on one of their client regimes.
And for sure, going to war (again) will not bring peace.

BIG discussion ongoing over on my blog.

Two comments

For the first, see my response to eneit.

For the second, I agree that there should not be a rush to war. On the other hand, if one is waiting for absolute proof, that will never happen. Only God deals in absolutes, humans deal in "that's the best we can do or know."

My contempt is for those, who in such a humanitarian crisis, are demanding that someone (US, UN, whomever) Do Something. Something tends to be military action, which the people who were demanding action, are suddenly surprised to find out means people get killed and then demand to know why. Contempt is too weak a word to express my feelings for these people. They treat life-and-death international affairs as a college armchair game. Something to inveigh against over a pitcher of beer. In the real world, actions have consequences, sometimes fatal consequences.
I am really glad that parliament voted against military action and I hope that Cameron doesn't manage to make them change their mind. If we could somehow kidnap the perpetrators and try them for war crimes, that's one thing, but how anyone can think that dropping bombs on the country will do anything other than kill more people, I don't know.
I confess, I have not read every single media story about this. However, to me, this seems like more of an excuse to "take military action" than anything else... almost like someone was "waiting" for this to happen ("just wait 'till your father gets home") kind of thing.

I don't see how a military strike will have any positive affect whatsoever. War is social pathology. It is the same as domestic violence, only on a much larger scale.
Calling something a "pathology" because we disapprove of it (however rightly) doesn't make it go away, or stop the need for dealing with it. You are making a case for intervention whether you know it or not. Domestic violence does not stop unless the victim escapes (and there are 100,000-1,000,000's of refugees from this conflict who are trying to do exactly that) or unless the perpetrator is arrested (use of violence to stop violence). The question on the table is whether the international community (whatever that is) is willing to take action to enforce the ban on chemical weapons. Neither verbal persuasion nor economic sanctions will have any effect. Don't know if punitive military action will either, but the only other option is to wring our hands, while saying tsk tsk, bad boy, we disapprove of your beating your wife/gassingyour own people.
Go ahead. Bomb them. Spend billions of dollars doing it, and then billions more cleaning up and rebuilding. Then let me know how that has worked out for you. Hopefully, you either work in the military, or for a military sub-contractor.

There are lots of peaceful ways of dealing with these things. But not nearly as profitable for Halliburton.
I wasn't advocating force, I was pointing out that if you want to "do something" that is your only option. You say there are "lots" of peaceful ways of dealing with these things. Okay, name them. Name even one that will have any effect on a dictator fighting to hold onto power.