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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 28, 2017
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East: Iran as the Solution, Not the Problem
stclair
Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
Stephen Cooper
Trump’s Pusillanimous Immigration Policy Imperils the Public and the Police
Vincent Emanuele
The Madness of U.S. Empire
Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
We Need the Endangered Species Act Now More Than Ever
David Underhill
Oops, They Did It Again: Crowd Bowls Over Rep in Beery Alley
John Eskow
Jimmy Kimmel is a Total Dick and Other Reflections on the Oscars
Steve Horn
Trump’s Top Energy Aide, Mike Catanzaro Peddled Climate Change Denial
Jack Random
The Trump Diaries: Week Five
Robert Fisk
The Education of Marine Le Pen
Pauline Murphy
Felicia Browne’s Fight Against Fascism
Mary Lynn Cramer
Fearing the Trump Impeachment
Mel Gurtov
While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens
Dan Bacher
Extinction 2017: California Edition
Abel Cohen
The Trojan President: America Never Saw It Coming
February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail