Those who sow the wind?

This is perhaps the most disturbing post I’ve ever been moved to attempt. The next video, on BBC News, is for sure disturbing. “Viewer discretion is advised.” The video is the aftermath of an apparent napalm or firebomb dropped on a schoolyard in Syria.

It has been commented on (in the Star for example) that the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime a) does not make sense, and b) has killed maybe 1000 whereas conventional weapons have killed maybe 100,000 citizens.

It has been suggested that the chemical weapons were released by some mad rebel group to discredit the regime. Conceivable, eh?

However, it would appear that to drop a firebomb, one needs an aircraft. The rebels don’t, so far as I know, have any bombers. (Please advise by commenting on this post if you know differently.)

There is a precedent for attacking civilians. If you google ‘Nicaragua + “soft targets”‘ you will find this disturbing information. I’ll pull a few quotes for you here.

Notably, in 1987, the US, as part of its ‘war on terror’, ordered its forces in Nicaragua to go “after soft targets” and to avoid the Nicaraguan army.

I was aware of this possibly due to Noam Chomsky. Soft Targets meant, hospitals, schools, and markets. That’s how come I made the specific Google search I used. More quotes:

This decision was taken after the International Court of Justice had declared the United States’ use of force against Nicaragua unlawful, and after the Security Council had endorsed the judgement and called on all States to observe international law (the US vetoed the resolution) and the General Assembly had passed a similar resolution.

Nicaragua then went to the UN General Assembly, where there is technically no veto, but a negative US vote amounts to a veto. The General Assembly passed a similar resolution — with only the US, Israel, and El Salvador opposed. The following year Nicaragua took its case again to the General Assembly. This time the US could only rally Israel to the cause, so two votes opposed observing international law. At that point, Nicaragua had exhausted all available legal measures, concluding that they do not work in a world that is ruled by force.

This information is consistent with my memory of the incident. It turns out that if you add Noam Chomsky to the Google search, you’ll find this confirmation: There are many terrorist states in the world, but the United States is unusual in that it is officially committed to international terrorism, and on a scale that puts its rivals to shame.

The United States had interests in Nicaragua. (According to Peter Scowen, it was mostly on behalf of a fruit company.) Russia has interests in Syria: they have a small naval base there. It should not surprise us that Russia has from time to time delivered weapons to Syria. It should not surprise us if Russia vetoes any UN resolution to do anything in Syria; after all, the US and Israel thwarted the UN General Assembly in preventing Nicaragua from getting reparations.

I believe the use of soft targets was originated for Nicaragua. It is a US invention.

Those who sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.

The US has, with its ‘red line’ statement, put itself in an awkward position. It is not reasonable to think that the Assad regime can be forced to yield power. It is not reasonable to think that the US can make anything much happen on the ground in Syria without massive intervention. It appears that President Obama will limit his ‘unblurring of the red line‘ with a couple of days of missile strikes. Clearly, no innocent civilians will be hit (cynicism deliberate) in this action.

Perhaps I should end this with some dumb questions.

Will any action be approved by the UN to stop the conflict in Syria?

Will a couple of days of missile strikes change the conflict in Syria? Tilt the balance of power?

Have we learned anything from confrontations with Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, have we learned anything at all?

They are all two-letter answers: NO.

So, Mr. Obama, owning a situation you cannot resolve and promised to fix (chemical red line), you now have no choice but to go and sow the wind yet one more time. May God have mercy on us all.

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