FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Usual Suspects v. Syria

by THOMAS L. KNAPP

The French, British and Israeli governments have all accused Syria’s regime of using chemical weapons in its ongoing struggle with foreign-backed rebels. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is urging Assad to allow UN inspectors into the country to verify or disprove the claims. And US president Barack Obama, while carefully avoiding a direct accusation, has publicly mused that proof of the charge would be a “game-changer,” by which he means that it would serve as an excuse to escalate US meddling in the conflict.

But the allegation rings hollow … or at least hypocritical:

– The Israeli government openly used chemical weapons in the West Bank at least as recently as April 26.

– The French government gassed hundreds of protesters in Paris at least as recently as April 24.

– Chemical weapons are routinely used by US regime forces for purposes as unimportant as breaking up rowdy college parties. And if we want to expand our focus to more general weapons of mass destruction, the US remains the only country to ever use nuclear weapons on large civilian populations. I suppose we could also talk about white phosphorous and depleted uranium, but you get the picture.

– Both the US and the UK supply chemical weapons to repressive regimes around the world.

If it seems perverse to compare CS (“tear gas”), the particular chemical weapon used by all these regimes as described above, to GB (“sarin”), the agent they accuse Bashar al-Assad of using, consider, think again: CS is specifically designated as a chemical weapon, just as illegal for use in international warfare as GB, under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

The governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed and ratified that convention. Israel’s government has signed it, although it remains unratified by the Knesset. Yet all four governments freely and frequently use an illegal chemical weapon “on their own people,” the Israelis use it in foreign areas they militarily occupy, and the US and UK export it for use by other governments “on their own people” — all while condemning Syria’s government for allegedly exercising exactly the same domestic/internal exemption. Not that Syria needs such an exemption; it is one of five governments which has never signed or ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The definition of “chemical weapon” and “weapon of mass destruction” gets inflated or deflated as necessary to serve the purposes of a regime’s ruling class, both at home and abroad.

When a US drone fires a Hellfire II missile with an 8-pound fragmentation/anti-personnel warhead into a wedding party in Pakistan, that’s just cricket. When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly sets off two pressure cookers filled with black powder and ball bearings at the Boston Marathon, that’s “using a weapon of mass destruction.”

When the US government uses tanks to pump CS into an American church, sets the building on fire and machine-guns the fleeing residents, that’s “law enforcement.” When Bashar al-Assad allegedly uses sarin on armed opponents trying to overthrow him, that’s “murdering his own people.”

Why are governments so eager to make distinctions between types of weapons? Because those governments are otherwise so much alike as to be indistinguishable one from another.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless
Society (c4ss.org).

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail