Gas-Mask Fantasy

August 28, 2013

mar26chan03copyClear and star-sprinkling skies this early Wednesday along California’s north coast — as the middle of the work week is here, so are thoughts of the week end.
Yet two days to go.

And this morning, the situation room on the Syrian chaos is getting crowded. The US, however, is pulling a George Jr. ploy and no matter what the UN or the rest of the world thinks, Americans and the Brits will once again cakewalk our way through another war.

(Illustration found here).

After dragging a long-face into a press conference, John Kerry said Monday the use of chemicals in Syria is a “moral obscenity” — but history might say different: U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
And the US repeatedly denied helping Saddam, claiming we never knew the asshole would use gas — but hold the fuck phone. Retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes: “The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew.”

So, later on, what happened (via the Independent):

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as “widespread myths”.
“Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used ‘outlawed’ phosphorus shells in Fallujah,” the USinfo website said.
“Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.
“They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.”
But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.
In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: “I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it’s known as Willy Pete.
“Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone … I saw the burned bodies of women and children.
Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud.
Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for.”

And George Monbiot in the Guardian, November 2005:

There were widespread reports that in March 2003 US marines had dropped incendiary bombs around the bridges over the Tigris and the Saddam Canal on the way to Baghdad.
The commander of Marine Air Group 11 admitted that “We napalmed both those approaches”.
Embedded journalists reported that napalm was dropped at Safwan Hill on the border with Kuwait.
In August 2003 the Pentagon confirmed that the marines had dropped “mark 77 firebombs”.
Though the substance these contained was not napalm, its function, the Pentagon’s information sheet said, was “remarkably similar”.
While napalm is made from petrol and polystyrene, the gel in the mark 77 is made from kerosene and polystyrene.
I doubt it makes much difference to the people it lands on.

Yes, indeed.
Gas, I guess, is obscene only when you use it against your own people.
And President Obama’s war plan is not going to work — “surgical strikes” always seemed to suck hard with blowback. War is not something that always goes according to plan.
From Foreign Policy  on Monday:

“Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive,” Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said.
“I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that.”
“I made it clear that this is a low cost option, but the broader issue is that low cost options don’t do any good unless they are tied to strategic priorities and objectives,” he added.
“Any ship officer can launch 30 or 40 Tomahawks. It’s not difficult.
The difficulty is explaining to strategic planners how this advances U.S. interests.”

Not all surgical strikes are created equal, of course.
And there’s no guarantee that the Obama administration’s strike plan would look like Harmer’s.
Regardless, Harmer doubted that any surgical strikes would produce the desired results — especially if the goal is to punish the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
“Punitive action is the dumbest of all actions,” he said.
“The Assad regime has shown an incredible capacity to endure pain and I don’t think we have the stomach to deploy enough punitive action that would serve as a deterrent.”
He also doubted the effectiveness of taking out Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities.
“If we start picking off chemical weapons targets in Syria, the logical response is if any weapons are left in the warehouses, he’s going to start dispersing them among his forces if he hasn’t already,” he continued.
“So you’re too late to the fight.”

Obama is quickly becoming a terrible president/leader. The long-haul of a second term is just getting started and there is still much shit to scatter the next three years.
Syria is a horror tale — just one among a shitload in the region — but if the US teams with the UK again, this time might be even worse than the last trip we made in Iraq.
Video of those Syrian children is just heart-retching and beyond sad — but what about all those kids in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Yemen, and on and on…
Gas ’em, then let the UN sort it out.

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