Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syria, Chemical Weapons, and More of the Same

Syria is in the news, as usual.

This time, Syria's government seems to have been caught using chemical weapons to kill folks who aren't on the 'approved' list:
The bodies used to be Syrians: civilians who either didn't express enough enthusiasm for Syria's boss, or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Chemical Weapons: So What?

An acquaintance of mine asked 'what's the big deal with chemical weapons? Aren't people just as dead if they're shot?' He has a point: dead is dead.

I think part of the issue with chemical weapons is emotional: perhaps thanks to WWI and WWI-era propaganda, and experience, quite a few folks simply don't like chemical weapons.

Another problem with chemical weapons is that they're notoriously hard to control: unless the attacker simply wants to kill a large number of folks in a particular town or city, and doesn't care who dies.

Finally, although it is possible to die slowly from a bullet wound, my understanding is that most chemical weapons tend to subject victims to a prolonged and painful experience before they finally die. It's one thing to kill someone quickly; quite another to torture the victim first. I'll grant that there's an emotional component to this aspect of chemical weapons, too: but I think that torturing innocent people is wrong, even if I felt like doing it.

America, Syria, and Getting a Grip

The American president seems to be deciding that something military should be done about Syria. He's probably right, but I expect many folks who didn't vote for him to start imitating folks who didn't vote for the previous president.

I didn't vote for the current president myself, and strongly disagree with him on many policies: but that doesn't mean that I'll disagree when he does make a little sense.

Radio news said that the president doesn't plan to send in ground forces. Okay: I believe that. I'm concerned that he'll set up a situation where the next president will have to send ground forces into a seriously messed-up situation: but that may not happen.

I'd like to believe that Syria's leadership would decide to start acting nice, if someone would ask nicely. I'm pretty sure that this won't happen.

Syria's boss and his enforcers have manged to act so badly that even their regional allies decided to step back a few paces, metaphorically speaking. In the Middle East, that's saying something. Sadly.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.