I am no warmonger; for the most part I detest war and all its accouterments, the unnecessary death, mutilation and post traumatic stress that accompanies it. Society ought to be tired of the broken bodies that come back from war zones, only to be abused by the defense forces, denied care, and far too many ending up on the streets.
As a pacifist, I believe that war is a last resort, that ultimately it never resolves anything, and induces only hatred and resentments that linger long after the battles are over. There are exceptions, times when we should put aside our pacifism and take arms against depraved regimes.
It took the United States far too long to enter the Second World War. While Hitler and his thugs brutalized a continent, slaughtering the Jews, Roma, the mentally handicapped, political opponents, Catholics, Poles and Russians, we waited two years until 1941. It was only the attack on Pearl Harbor that sent us to war, despite the horrendous actions of the National Socialists against all the peoples of Europe.
The deadly genocide that caused the death of 700,000 Rwandans in the 1990’s was a case in point, a chance for the West to intervene and stop a genocide. After the horrendous actions of the Nazis in their determination to exterminate an entire people, the West promised that it would never happen again, that no genocide would ever blight the world again. While more than a million perished in the Cambodian genocide, the West, and the world community sat back and did nothing. In Rwanda, again the West did nothing, lending the lie to their pronouncements after WWII. Finally, in Yugoslavia, we intervened, preventing further massacres of Kosovars with targeted strikes.
Most nations signed the 1925 Geneva Protocols banning the use of chemical weapons, and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing weapons like sarin. Sarin is a nerve agent, developed in 1938 by I.G. Farben, the German chemical conglomerate, under the Nazi regime. The Nazi’s refused to use it because of the fear of what it might do to their own troops.
Sarin is a particularly brutal weapon, causing difficulty breathing, nausea and drooling. Within less than a minute of contact, the victim loses control of his bodily functions, causing defecation, urination, and vomiting, followed by twitching and jerking. The victim then becomes comatose and suffocates. If the victim lives, he may live a life filled with pain, blindness and lack of physical control. Most die a painful death.
A regime willing to use this weapon does not deserve to remain extant. Iraq, under Saddam Hussein used sarin against civilian Kurdish populations in Northern Iraq. Again, the United States did nothing and thousands died, without assistance, never seeing the cavalry. Quite the opposite, the U.S. supported this brutish dictator in his war against Iran.
We in the West, and any decent nation has a moral obligation to ensure that the use of chemical weapons is never allowed again. Hafez al-Assad, the current dictator of Syria must be punished for his use of this heinous weapon. If we do nothing, and sit back, in this instance, it will only embolden other brutish regimes and encourage them to use such weapons against their own or other people.
We do not need to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict, despite calls from hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. We as a nation are tired of endless war. What we can do is to engage in limited strikes both to send a message that Assad’s actions will not be tolerated, and to degrade his ability to launch strikes that indiscriminately target women, children and all innocent civilians.
To let this brutish dictator get away with his actions is to abrogate our responsibility to all the people of this planet and to ensure that other regimes will take note and be prepared to use similar weapons on their people.
This is not another endless war, but to be true to our nation, we must tell all regimes that this is not acceptable, that chemical weapons must never be used again.
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