UPDATE: Evidently the Obama Administration has known about chemical use in Syria for well over a year. Why is John Kerry acting so hysterical about it – now? Yes, the use has gradually increased, but something isn’t being said, and needs to be. My conclusion is that Kerry is being less than candid and less than honorable about his intentions. He is poorly serving Obama, if you want my humble opinion. The US is not perfect when it comes to the use of chemical weapons. This information alone makes me suspect Kerry’s motives. Why – now?
NOTE: Additional updates within the body of this post will be highlighted in red.
ORIGINAL POST: Unfortunately, because of circumstances, it is looking more and more like Barack Obama, in order not to have a Pontius Pilot moment, has turned the option for military action over to the House and Senate. Or – all you wanted to know about the history of chemical weapons use and were afraid to ask.
According to FL GOP Member of Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen…
“…“It is against the norms of international standards and to let something like this go unanswered, I think will weaken our resolve,” she said of Assad’s alleged use of sarin gas against rebel strongholds in Damascus. “I know that President Reagan would have never let this happen. He would stand up to this. And President Obama — the only reason he is consulting with Congress, he wants to blame somebody for his lack of resolve. We have to think like President Reagan would do and he would say chemical use is unacceptable.”…”
In November, 1990, Hafez Assad’s soldiers went house to house, flushing them with cyanide gas, killing around 20,000 people. We did not go to war against Syria. John Kerry wants us to enforce the treaty preventing the use of chemical weapons, saying that the treaty or rather the condemnation of the use of such weapons is nearly 100 years old.
John Kerry has admitted that 15-25% of the opposition in Syria, made up of about 100K or so, are ‘bad guys’. He also stated his fear that Iran would acquire these chemical weapons and use them – against Israel. There’s a little problem here. We also have a very real problem with the rebels there in Syria. Bashar Al-Assad is a very bad guy, a psycho. He’s crazy. Unfortunately, the rebels we may be replacing him with are probably even worse.
These bad guys are preying on Christian villages. Damn it, if Rand Paul wasn’t right. In order to find the information, one must go to the Catholic news services to discover what is going on in the Christian enclaves. The extremist Islamic rebels are terrorizing Christians. What is feared, by the Vatican, is another butchering of Christians the way they have been in Iraq. Since the beginning of the civil war, in 2011, Christians have, apparently, been the targets of ongoing violence – from the rebels.
“...The devastation of Iraq’s Christian community after the fall of Saddam Hussein lurks in the background of attitudes both in the Vatican and in Syria itself. From an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million Christians prior to the first Gulf War in 1991, experts believe only about 250,000 to 400,000 Christians remain in Iraq today, the balance having been driven into exile or killed….”
The other part of this equation is the fact that anti-Assad Christian leaders, including Jesuit Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio have disappeared. The ones who survive say that Christians are being co-opted into supporting Assad. In August, though, Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch in Syria, Gregory III Laham said that intervention by the US, into the country’s civil war, would be a ‘criminal act’. Aashar Khoury, a Catholic from Damascus, who was a volunteer for World Youth Day in Brazil, for the Vatican said if the US gets involved, and forces regime change, he would be forced to leave Syria. The radicals who are a part of the civil war will destroy Christians. In Lebanon, there may be as many as 10,000 Christians who have fled Syria.
“…”The government was bad, but at least we were safe,” she said. “Not anymore. … Look at what has happened to our churches in places like Aleppo and Homs. The extremists threaten us when we want to celebrate major feasts like Christmas and Easter. They don’t want us in the area at all.”…”
I don’t mind admitting that I am having very real problems with this whole Syria chemical weapon thing. The weapons used were horrific. But – there is evidence they’ve been using them off and on for quite awhile. Over 100,000 people have died in a civil war in which we have no business being involved. Why the demand to get involved now?
According to Mondoweiss, a progressive Jewish publication that covers the Middle East, the rebels who are in the process of being assisted by the Obama Administration are not good people.
“…The level of insight into Iraq’s chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq’s program prior to the United States’ invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.
Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.
In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam’s unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus….”
One of the major arguments when discussing a possible attack on Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile is the fact that we need to protect Israel from not only Iran developing nuclear weapons but also chemical. The false argument here about Iran is that they have signed onto the international Chemical Weapons Convention. Right now, it’s possible that Iran is trying to find a way out of the quagmire of radical Islam. We’re not helping things by accusing them of doing something they’ve agreed not to do. BUT ….
We are very quick to condemn the use of chemical weapons, and the countries that have not signed or ratified the treaty. There are seven. The problem is, and we need to recognize that problem, the problem is that Israel is one of those seven countries.
“...As for those unconventional weapons, here the Israeli way of doing things has been to dispense with international conventions, inspection regimes, and peaceful ways to pursue arms control and nonproliferation objectives. Instead, it has again been a matter of unilateral application of military force. Israel has, of course, long rejected any international cooperation, transparency, or honesty when it comes to its arsenal of nuclear weapons. As for chemical weapons, 189 states are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention; Israel is one of only seven states (along with Syria) that is not. The United States, which has been a major player in erecting the international structures dedicated to the peaceful pursuit of arms control and disarmament, still has a major interest in those structures and would lose much by in effect chucking them and what they represent and instead just turning to the gun.
A broader and more general way of posing the question the U.S. Congress now faces is: does the United States want to follow its powerful and privileged Israeli client on a path that not only brushes aside international law, international organization, and the peaceful pursuit of international objectives but also entails perpetual warfare, much isolation, and all of the costs and risks that go with that? The current Israeli government has chosen that path for itself; why would the United States want to take the same path?…”
The countries that have not ratified the treaty are Israel and Myanmar. The states that have neither signed nor acceded to the Chemical Weapons convention are: Angola, Egypt, North Korea, Sough Sudan, and Syria. Iraq is a wash. Iran has signed the treaty. So has Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Afghanistan, China, Congo, Algeria, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Manbia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Qutar, Russia… but Israel hasn’t.
One of the arguments that John Kerry has uses is that these weapons haven’t been used in a century, since World War I.
“…The Administration might want to keep the mission “limited” and “proportional,” as Obama initially promised, but it will be a challenge. In making the case to Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry and his colleagues have described what is at stake in monumental terms—vital national security, 100 years of international law, core credibility. It is a “Munich moment,” says Kerry. In that case, how could American policy be merely a stiff warning, “a shot across the bow,” in the President’s words? If it doesn’t work, if there is another atrocity—chemical or otherwise—can the Administration sit back and not do more? After all, the Secretary of State has compared the situation to the road to World War II. (A note on the analogy: it is worth remembering that Adolf Hitler was in charge of the world’s largest army and one of its richest countries and was seeking conquest of Europe and perhaps the world. Assad, by contrast, runs one of the world’s poorest countries and is struggling desperately to remain in control of it.)…”
There’s a real problem here. What he said is not accurate. Either the Administration did not do its home-work when it comes to the use of chemical weapons or someone is lying. As someone who supports Barack Obama and doesn’t want to see him fail, I truly hope it is about not doing his homework.
While we’re on the subject of chemical weapons, during the Reagan Administration, Saddam Hussein was involved in the genocidal extermination of the Kurds in the north of Iraq. Over 100,000 people were killed in the genocide.
“…It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched….”
As part of the Iran-Iraq war, when it appeared as though Iran might win, we helped Saddam – Ronald Reagan provided information that enabled Saddam Hussein to use chemical weapons.
The article appeared in Foreign Policy Magazine. I quote from Raw Story:
“...Foreign Policy magazine noted earlier this summer that not only did the U.S. turn a blind eye to the Iraqi regime’s deployment of non-conventional weapons, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) provided satellite imagery of Iranian troop movements to Hussein.
“In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran,” wrote Foreign Policy‘s Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid, “the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. 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.”
The Reagan administration also stood by and did nothing during the Al-Anfal campaign, the chemical raids Hussein launched against the Kurdish north in 1989. More than 100,000 men, women and children died in a campaign that Human Rights Watch now calls a “genocide.”…”
Evidently, as long as chemical attacks are to benefit the US, the GOP, Ronald Reagan, turned a blind eye to the use of those weapons. Let’s face the fact that we probably helped Saddam get the components to make the weapons. There were 40 known chemical attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan.
What truly bothers me is the fact that maybe this country is blowing it when it comes to protecting Christians.
“…Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic humanitarian group, recently issued a report on Syria, quoting one Christian woman who asked to remain anonymous.
“The government was bad, but at least we were safe,” she said. “Not anymore. … Look at what has happened to our churches in places like Aleppo and Homs. The extremists threaten us when we want to celebrate major feasts like Christmas and Easter. They don’t want us in the area at all.”
Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syrian Catholic church in Damascus* said in May that Christians are so frustrated with Western policy, which he believes is fomenting Islamic radicalism and anti-Christian hatred, that they may give up on the West altogether.
“I believe there will be a time coming when Christians of the Middle East will no longer look to the West for support and perhaps to better strengthen their roots with the Eastern culture and civilization … [to] Russia, to India, to China,” he said….”
Barack Obama could end up going the way of Jimmy Carter. He’s canceled a big fund-raiser next week in LA to concentrate on the Syrian issue. This is NOT good. What I’ve been reading from the redacted CIA files from the Reagan years is enough to make me sick. The way I now see it, the Obama Administration has absolutely NO moral high ground to oppose Assad. We have none.
Mother Jones has an article about the GOP turning into Peaceniks, complete with this photo.
I’m sick. Yes, I remember when chemicals were used in the Iran-Iraq War. It was one of the things that made me so suspicious of the drive to get involved in Syria. I cannot go along with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution that backs regime change, simply because the devil we know doesn’t appear to be as bad as the devils we do know. This country has an embarrassing record when it comes to pushing for regime change.
Let’s get out that scorecard. The Russians are now reporting that the Syrian rebels have also used sarin nerve gas. After what I think has been one less than credible comment by John Kerry too many, I’m not inclined to believe either side. Right now, I’m not happy with the current Secretary of State. The presentation of the 100 page report, to the UN, timed with Obama’s arrival in Russia gives Vladimir Putin, the alleged moral high ground, or the home court advantage.
Kerry was less than candid in his factually inaccurate comment that only three tyrants have used chemical weapons. The first treaty preventing the use of such weapons was signed in 1925. Evidently Kerry was referring to Hitler (who used gas in death camps), Saddam Hussein, and now Bashar al-Assad. The problem with his statement was that he wasn’t quite accurate.
- In 1934 Benito Mussolini used chemical weapons in Ethiopia
- In 1937 Japan used mustard gas when it invaded China
- From 2963-1967 Nasser ordered the use of chemicals in Egypt
- 1943 – US had chemical weapons on a ship bombed by Germany
- 1970s – Soviets probably used chemical weapons in Afghanistan & Central Asia
- 1980 – Saddam Hussein used them in Iraq – one attack killed over 5000 people
- 1987 – Qqdafi used them in Libya
- 1970 – Portuguese used them in Anglola
- Late 1980s – Hafez Assad used them in Syria
- 1999-2000 Russia used them in second battle of Grozny
- 2004 we used a chemical agent in Fallujah
- 1970s – according to South African authorities, Cuban & Angolan forces were going to use them
- Vietnam War – US used Agent Orange, a toxic chemical defoliant
- Vietnam War – Project SHAD
- Operation Tailwind – true or not, or shoddy journalism about US using chemicals in Laos?
- Gulf War, January 1991– did the US use sarin or depleted uranium?
“… Not surprisingly, researchers have reported higher cancer rates of Gulf War veterans and made linkages between DU exposure and cancer. But RAC’s 2008 report found the clearest culprit of the extreme pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, memory loss, and movement disorders prominent in GWI to be US-released neurotoxins. RAC implicated a certain type of chemical (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) common to experimental anti-nerve gas pre-treatment pills, bug spray and sarin, which troops were exposed to when the US bombed munitions storage facilities in southern Iraq.
The Pentagon has not denied the explosion of sarin, but has maintained the gas could not have reached the troops, who were stationed at US bases in Saudi Arabia. Recently, longtime Gulf War illness researcher, epidemiologist Robert Haley and former military investigator James Tuitte have shown weather satellite images of the plume’s course, ending in the sky above the Saudi bases. The many nerve gas alarms that were going off at the time, troops were told, were false alarms. But they were not, the authors say, demonstrating a direct connection between the number of nerve gas alarms troops heard and the severity of Gulf War Illness symptoms.…”
The US did not ratify the Geneva Protocol until 1975. FDR was the first person to establish the ‘no use’ policy. BUT – in 1943 a US ship, loaded with said weapons, was destroyed by the Germans. It was in Italy.
One must wonder if John Kerry is not trying to cover his own tail for having been made a fool of in 2009 by Bashar al-Assad. The US had a chemical weapon program. It wasn’t until 1969 that Richard Nixon renounced the program. In May, 1991 George H. W. Bush committed the US to destroying all chemical weapons.
“…According to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency by January, 2012, the United States had destroyed 89.75% of the original stockpile of nearly 31,100 metric tons (30,609 long tons) of nerve and mustard agents declared in 1997.The U.S. disposed of the more dangerous modern chemical weapons before starting the destruction of its older mustard gas stockpile which presented additional difficulties due to the poor condition of some of the shells. Of the weapons destroyed up to 2006, 500 tons were mustard gas and the majority were other agents such as VX and sarin (GB) (86% of the latter was destroyed by April 2006).
13,996 metric tons (13,775 long tons) of prohibited weapons had been destroyed by June 2007 to meet the Phase III quota and deadline. The original commitment in Phase III required all countries to have 45 percent of the chemical stockpiles destroyed by April 2004. Anticipating the failure to meet this deadline, the Bush administration in September 2003 requested a new deadline of December 2007 for Phase III and announced a probable need for an extension until April 2012 for Phase IV, total destruction (requests for deadline extensions cannot formally be made until 12 months before the original deadline). This extension procedure spelled out in the treaty has been utilized by other countries, including Russia and the unnamed “state party”. Although April 2012 is the latest date allowed by the treaty, the U.S. also noted that this deadline may not be met due to environmental challenges and the U.S. decision to destroy leaking individual chemical shells before bulk storage chemical weapons.
The primary remaining chemical weapon storage facilities in the U.S. are Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky. These two facilities hold 10.25% of the U.S. 1997 declared stockpile and destruction operations are under the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. Other non-stockpile agents (usually test kits) or old buried munitions are occasionally found and are sometimes destroyed in place.
Disposal of chemical munitions has concluded at seven of the U.S.’s nine chemical depots (89.75% stockpile reduction). Pueblo and Blue Grass are constructing pilot plans to test novel methods of disposal. The U.S. also uses mobile treatment systems to treat chemical test samples and individual shells without requiring transport from the artillery ranges and abandoned munitions depots where they are occasionally found. The destruction facility for Pueblo is expected to be completed in 2012 with disposal occurring between 2015 and 2017. Blue Grass is expected to complete operation by 2021.
In 1988–1990, the destruction of munitions containing BZ, a non-lethal hallucinating agent at Pine Bluff Chemical Activity in Arkansas. Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada destroyed all M687 chemical artillery shells and 458 metric tons of binary precursor chemicals by July 1999. Operations were completed at Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System where all 640 metric tons of chemical agents were destroyed by 2000 and at Edgewood Chemical Activity in Maryland, with 1,472 metric tons of agents destroyed by February 2006. All DF and QL, chemical weapons precursors, were destroyed in 2006 at Pine Bluff. Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana began destruction operations in May, 2005 and completed operations on August 8, 2008, disposing of 1,152 tonnes of agents. Pine Bluff completed destruction of 3,850 tons of weapons on November 12, 2010. Anniston Chemical Activity in Alabama completed disposal on September 22, 2011. Umatilla Chemical Depot in Oregon finished disposal on October 25, 2011. Tooele Chemical Demilitarization Facility at Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah finished disposal on January 21, 2012….”
And, so, we have a mess on our hands. If Barack Obama isn’t careful, this will destroy his Presidency and his legacy. He is, I thing, being ill-served by John Kerry. What bothers me is the fact that Kerry has edited the facts in his favor. My question is just how much editing has he done?