Playing catch up: Carry On Damascus

Two months, a landmark for neglectful posting! I will resolve to write smaller posts more often and might even invest in a twitter account to aid in my commentary. I have a few more “Playing catch up” posts to do before I’m up to date.

The French Exocet missile in flight.

Not the right sort of missile but humour me.

I like to call attention to Syria because it seems we only have that atrocious civil war in the news when it really offends Western sensibilities. At last, the global eye swung back around to the war in Syria because of a heinous chemical weapon attack that killed 1400 people (many of whom are those favourites to be caught in war crimes – the totally blameless and scores of adorable, now dead, children). When it first happened, I like many others assumed the state was at fault because the Syrian state had enough to kill many thousands of people, or as President Assad put it two months after the initial crisis: “the stocks of sarin and other gases were meant as a check on Israel, but Israel has developed effective countermeasures and Syria’s ballistic missiles are now a stronger threat to the Jewish state.” [paraphrased]. To even begin covering how much is wrong with the idea that apparently its fine to intend to gas anyone would change the nature of this post.

Matters became heated with David Cameron recalling parliament from their holidays, Barack Obama and John Kerry wanting to punish Damascus and even socialist Francois Hollande beating the drum of war. Vladimir Putin, a man whose very name my skin itch with rage, emerged as a champion of moderation and military reticence – so much so that he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (Gandhi didn’t get one but the EU and Barack Obama have, so that shows us how valuable it is nowadays) despite being the power who presided over the wars in Chechnya and fabulous Russian aggression into Georgia. However, credit where credit is due – I was all for a “no fly zone” in Syria which I can say was much too reactionary of me. This desire for retribution increased when napalm was used on a school, I didn’t care who did it: I was disgusted that they had.

The assumption we’re all working under is that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people, supported by the fact that they have never previously spared the rod on the backs of their populace. Russia did make the disturbing suggestion with a commendably detailed report that rebels used the sarin gas – we must consider that Hezbollah and other Islamist jihadi groups are extant among the rebels now. However, the attack being investigated by the UN confirm that “The delivery vehicle was a variant of the M14 artillery rocket, fired from an unspecified region to the north-west.” The rebels don’t have that kind of fire power, and logically for the delivery system to be that advanced we would assume a governmental role. Regardless of who fights whom, a war crime has been carried out and it is the innocent that suffer.

Headshot of John Kerry with the U.S. flag in t...

John Kerry: boob or visionary?

In what was either a grand gaffe or politics so shrewd that only the most occult PPE students could spot it, John Kerry said everything could be averted if Syria agreed to turn over all of its chemical weapons but asserted that this wasn’t going to happen…the next day, or at least that’s how fast it seemed, Syria agreed to do just this. So the crisis was averted. We wait for the international community to destroy every last trace of Syrian chemical weaponry. At least, the crisis has been temporarily averted and Vladimir Putin has been made to seem the most reasonable, peaceful world leader. He even used America’s news to send a message to them about non-aggression. I have to congratulate him on being a real shyster: using another country’s freedom of the press to undermine’s its president. An action which would certainly see any journalist in Russia imprisoned – or rather see a leader of the opposition put away for “corruption”. Nothing must ever undermine Putin in Russia, protest is as good as illegal, he saw firsthand what an ounce of free thinking did for the Soviet Union. To those of you who have read my posts before, you will know that I have very little love for Vladimir.

As a postscript, the US has a very checkered past involving chemical weapons use. Are we being selective in our choice of what is obscene? Also, British companies exported materials for the concoction of chemical weapons to a company thought be a front for the Assad regime. MPs are demanding to know every sordid detail. Perhaps one reason for Western interest in bearing down hard on Assad over chemical weapons is a sense of guilt – some might even say a veiled hypocrisy. One wonders whether the US will speed up the disposal of its chemical weapon stockpiles as a show of good will. Or if, in the darkest part of the American soul, they need them for the Russians like the Syrians need them for the Jews.

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