Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands 134

In general I refrain from commenting on Syria, because the politics of that country are hugely complex and I simply do not know enough about it. If in the media in general people refrained from commenting on things they know they do not clearly understand, life would be easier for readers – except, of course, that most columnists don’t understand that they don’t understand.

The West is already heavily involved in Syria, giving large amounts of cash, and channelling weapons through the vicious despotisms of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, to opposition forces, some of which are Islamic jihadist, some representing different tribal or religious power factions.

This makes life very confusing – the kidnappers and killers of UN Peacekeepers on the Golan Heights are some of William Hague’s “Good guys”, which is why those stories are so quickly glossed over. The truth is, of course, that the whole fallacy of the Blair interventionist model is that there are “good guys” in these situations who ought to be put in power by our military force, our money and the blood of our soldiers. As I explain at length in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, this “good guy” fallacy led to the British Army installing the most corrupt government on earth in Sierra Leone, and we have gone on to do precisely the same thing, installing incredibly corrupt and bad governments, in Kabul and Baghdad. Having, of course, bombed the infrastructure of Iraq back to the Middle Ages first, A great deal of fog still shrouds Libya, but I expect we will soon see clearly exactly the same thing there.

Doubtless if western intervention becomes more direct in Syria, we will there again achieve regime change and the brilliant achievement of installing a government even more corrupt than the Assad regime. Of course the political proponents of the policy don’t really care about good governance or corruption, or death in war or devastation of infrastructure. They want governments which are allied with them. The wars themselves serve the interests of the politicians’ paymasters in the arms industry, mercenary companies and logistics providers like Halliburton. The subsequent corrupt governments are supposed to be friendly to western commercial and financial interests.

The motives and mechanics of the interventionists are clear. We have seen it all before. But their own militaries have had enough of being embroiled in endless conflicts, and there are no quick win solutions in ultra complex Syria. The Israelis have been signalling very, very hard to the US that the Assad family are OK by them and the last thing that Israel wants is a genuine democracy in Syria, which might want the Golan Heights back.

Obama, Cameron et al have thus been reduced to financial and vicarious weapon supply to the anti-Assad forces, and limited numbers of special forces assisting with sabotage operations to no great purpose. Meantime, hundreds of thousands have been killed in the ongoing civil war.

There is a clue there; civil war. Nobody is attacking us, and here is a hard lesson for politicians. There are wars we should not join in. We should have a role, indeed, in urging peace and trying to deploy all the means of conflict resolution. But it is not for us to fund or arm any side in a civil war. It is not our business and we have no legal right to do so. Work for peace, yes. Fuel war, no.

Within all this, Obama’s foolish decision to make the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons a red line makes matters worse. Of course chemical weapons should not be deployed. But I am not sure whether I would prefer to die with my guts spilling out after red hot metal ripped through my abdomen, or coughing my lungs out after inhaling chemicals. That hundreds of thousands can die one way, but hundreds dying the other way would be a cause of joining in the war, is not inherently logical to me.

I remain, I should say, very sceptical of evidence produced so far that chemical weapons have been deployed. Even if they had been used, given the consequences that might follow, one has to ask by whom. The cui bono would not point to Assad, quite the opposite.

I shall return to avoiding blogging about Syria. If I can’t blog about it because it is too complex and I don’t fully understand it, think how unwise you must be to imagine that bombing it or providing still more weapons will help.

134 thoughts on “Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands

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  • Spalding


    “However those wishing to start World War Three seem to have forgotten this war is not going to be fought over there, and it will be fought over here, even little DPRK pointed that out to the warmongers, hence the aggression lite, on display with caveats and the need for proofs etc. just to appease the forces of reaction and the ziofuckwits.”

    Where specifically will it be fought other than ‘it will be fought over here’?

    ‘forces of reaction… ziofuckwits’? Please elaborate….

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away)


    you have obviously not bothered to read the article about the tokyo attack. What you cite has nothing to do with it and is just a website with general information for fools, I presume, and has nothing to do with scientific evidence. If you cannot tell the diference between a leaflet and an article in a scientific journal then you are beyond salvation. You are lying again about the neurological defects of victims exposed to the tokyo sarin attack. Out of 111 patients admitted as in patients to the Saint Luke hospital, 101 were discharged within two days. No hospital would ever discharge anyone with neurological problems. You made it up, where is the evidence for your claim? Just fuck off it will be better for everyone.

  • Kempe

    The “leaflet” as you describe is what in the UK wold be called a Hazard Data Sheet, it contains vital information for emergency workers.

    The paper you linked to mentions long term effects if you bother to read it but it was only published in 1997 so can’t be expected to contain much information about people who have suffered long term medical or psychological problems. This paper describes follow up examinations of victims up to 7 years after the attack.


  • Komodo

    Kempe – the paper you cite is inconclusive, and certainly doesn’t support your case. Much of the testing was for PTSD (which would be expected in at least some of the victims and witnesses of any terrorist attack) and the author mentions the need for more sensitive tests. This notwithstanding that clinical tests for agricultural OP products are well-established. Sarin is essentially an OP insecticide refined for use on vertebrates. It might be expected to be more toxic to us, long-term, than, say malathion. But it’s a knock-down insecticide. After the initial hit, assuming the body’s got that far, it recovers well.

    Unlike someone who has been gut-shot either by a high-velocity round or shrapnel, generally speaking. PTSD is quite common among such cases as well, and the pain is appalling. Both to the victim, and those nearby who have to listen to him. Sometimes for days.

    I’m not defending the use of nerve agents. They’re completely indiscriminate, and are the product of the same slaughterhouse mentality as, say, drones, heavy-metal-enhanced blast weapons or flechette rounds (all enthusiastically used by Israel). But if I had my choice, personally, they’re a lot quicker than a bullet in the belly.

  • nevermind

    Thanks for that last paragraph, Komodo, you had me shivering for a second.

    Sophie Habercake is coming round to liking you, maybe one day you will be sharing your buffalo breakfast with her…

  • Kempe

    well the paper did rather concentrate on PTSD but are you saying that PTSD is not a real illness?

    The long term effects of organophosphates have been well documented. A lot of agricultural workers were permanantly affected during the time DEFRA or it’s predecessors insisted on the use of OP sheepdips.

    That high velocity bullet might just as easily hit you in the head or chest in which case it’s game over very quickly, much quicker than sarin, and as you say any chemical or biological weapon is indiscriminate, uncontrolable once released and can be persistant. For these reasons alone their use is not to be prefered over firearms.

  • Komodo

    No, of course I am not saying that PTSD is not a real disease. Read my post if you disbelieve me. Might have helped if you’d read it first…but PTSD is not specific to nerve agents or anything else. Simply being in combat can bring it on; the worse the trauma, the more likely it is. Indeed, Sarin might have had nothing to do with it in Tokyo. Watching people around you convulsing and dying, like being in a combat situation, would be a plausible first cause by itself.

    Agricultural workers are routinely exposed to rather high doses of OP’s over a long period, perhaps their entire working lives. The two cases are not comparable. Certainly there are adverse effects from this kind of exposure, probably more than the farming industry will confess to. I have some experience of the level of awareness of this risk among farmers and their employees – awareness is sometimes nonexistent

    And the Sarin might just as easily blow downwind of you. True of any weapon – it might kill you and it might not. Irrelevant.

  • Bird of family Troglolytidae

    This Syria stuff is shit! Why do we always have to commit our military, and we are we expected to be the world police? France, England, Isreal, etc. If they have proof of chemical weapons then they should do something, not us. I would love to see England and France work on a no fly zone, and put boots on the ground. Maybe then we could provide a force of say a thousand, and if I had my way they would only be used for humanitarian purposes. It’s total bull shit that the 82nd AD has now completed training on seizing areas as fast as possible, so we can drop them in after the regime collapses to secure WMD’s…

    No we’ll have to create a no fly zone (best case), or provide the majority of boots on the ground (worst case). We’ll start taking complaints, especially from the extreme left, that we’re using drones and killing innocents (which happens in any war). We’ll be accused of imperialism again and again. 60% of Americans don’t support an intervention of any kind. Especially if we just give weapons, because they will fall into the hands of radical Islamists and others who can create future problems.

    Britain, France, et. all, you found the evidence, you do something about it or shut the hell up…

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away)


    you are a hopeless case but let me point out to you that there are millions of children in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan suffering PTSD from regular bombing and jets overflying their houses at night while just “accidently” breaking the sound barrier. You do not give a shit about them because these are chidren of “bad” people and your beloved Israel is a good and democratic country. These children can make no claims of compensation unlike those supposedly traumatized in Tokyo. Like many others you are just an ordinary hypocrite.


    thanks for support, you are a good friend. Unlike you, most clowns frequenting this blog do no realize that after exposure to sarin you either survive or fully recover with the exception of few unfortunates who get a heart attack or their brains become hypoxic for a while leading to neuronal death. This is a small percentage, however, even though I must admit that I am not aware of any study on this matter. Compared to sarin, any hit by shrapnel fragments or a bullet will cause terrible injuries as there are thousand ways to cripple the poor wretches. Nowadays a lot of soldiers survive even a head or neck shot but with a disastrous outcome. It is also interesting to look up the israeli terror in Gaza using white phophorus cf.http://www.vtjp.org/background/gazaweapons.php

  • trowbridge h. ford

    As is increasingly so in the conduct of American foreign policy, what is discussed by Washington. the pundits, and the media is just a smoke screen for what is really going on.

    While Obama is talking about red lines when it comes to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons – what threatens the establishment of a no-fly zone, and ultimate US troops on the ground in yet another regime change – the CIA is daily trying to decapitate it by killing its leaders, especially Assad, being confidant that it would then fall apart.

    And what ever happened to Washington’s effort to divide-and-rule in the far Pacific? Looks like its attempt to isolate North Korea has simply gone off the radar.

    Looks like Beijing has told Washington- after the repeated man-made devastating earthquake in Sichuan, that if it really wants a showdown there. it will have one – what got North Korea to drop its aggressive posturing.

  • Kempe

    Oh that’s rich, after dismissing a link I provided as “just a website with general information for fools, ” which “has nothing to do with scientific evidence.” we get a link to Informationclearinghouse! Priceless!!

    Waiting for the real science behind chemtrails and 9/11.

    After the day I’ve had I needed cheering up. Thanks!

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