Go Git ‘Em, Cowboy!

It’s strange how quiet the Left seems to be as we rush, without Congressional approval, toward military action against Syria. (Not everyone on the Left, mind: I find myself agreeing with, of all people, Dennis Kucinich on this one.)

The Long War Journal‘s blog, Threat Matrix, asks some pertinent questions, here. Among them:

3. Is there a possibility that the Aug. 21 attack was an accidental hit — of chemical stocks belonging to either the regime or the rebels — by the undisputed massive regime bombardment in the area at the time? It is known that the regime has been frequently moving its chemical weapons to keep them out of rebel hands, and it is also known that rebel fighters, including al Qaeda-linked groups, have sought and reportedly had access to chemical weapons. The Al Nusrah Front is known to have pursued chemical weapons; credible reports of the group plotting to conduct sarin and mustard gas attacks have emerged from Iraq and Turkey over the past several months.

Sharpest of all are questions 5 and 6:

5. Is there a way to rule out the possibility, given the timing of the Aug. 21 attack, that it could have been perpetrated by rebel groups seeking to draw the US into a military intervention against the Assad regime?

6. The regime has much to lose by mounting chemical weapon attacks, and especially while UN inspectors are in country and the world’s eyes are turned toward Syria. Why now? Is the basic vagueness of the US’s accusation due to a Western decision that now is the time to intervene militarily, regardless of who perpetrated the attack, since there is clearly a very distinct danger of the spread of chemical warfare in the region at this point?

I’ve wondered all along about this: why would Assad, who already outguns the rebels, risk triggering exactly the punitive response he seems about to receive?

In an essay published earlier today, Victor Davis Hanson remarked:

We are now in a surreal landscape in which the Left urges action on suspicion of WMD use, citing the humanitarian issues involved, the larger concerns of the civilized world, and U.S. strategic interests. U.N. weapon inspectors are not allowed in. There is good evidence that Assad is lying about his use of WMD or at least trying to mislead in some fashion not altogether discernible. Where are Joe Wilson, Hans Blix, and Mohamed ElBaradei when we need them?

Where the Syrian WMD came from or where they are stored is still a mystery, given that we were assured long ago by opponents of the Iraq War that Saddam did not pose a threat and thus his WMD stockpiles, if they ever existed, did not go to Syria on the eve of that war.

Yep, it’s ten years on, and everybody’s just switched jerseys. Big wheel keep on turnin’, Mideast keep on burnin’.

Meanwhile, Turkish correspondent Ilhan Tanir just tweeted:

I am talking to a friend in Aleppo now. He says, everybody expect US to hit ISIS (Al Qaida linked group) as well Assad targets. Interesting.

“Interesting”, indeed! Attacking both sides, I have to admit, does have a certain appeal. (Obliterating both sides, much more so.) But of course, each side is already working hard to obliterate the other, without our lifting a finger, so why not just let them take care of it themselves? (Do keep in mind that those Tomahawk missiles can cost upwards of a million taxpayer bucks a pop. That kind of money could buy a lot of condoms, folks.)

Perhaps the idea is to kill everybody but those Islamic “moderates” we’re always hearing about, so that they can repopulate and pacify the region. I suppose it’s something like the idea that everything presently existing in the Universe is just the tiny, asymmetrical residue that was left over after all the matter and antimatter annihilated each other right after the Big Bang.

So what the hell, it’s worth a try, I guess. Anyway, with such enlightened statesmen at the helm, what could go wrong?


  1. ScaniaBoy says

    I posted this comment on Free Republic. It has some bearing on question #3:

    From Médecins Sans Frontiers: However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events—characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers—strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent.

    Interesting. This is the first mention I have seen of first aid workers and medical personnel being afflicted, which would be consistent with use of CW-agent. The photos previously published have shown medical workers and other civilians handling the dead or injured without any protection, and apparently without any ill-effects.

    When I did my military service we were taught how to clean personnel and equipment suspected of CW contamination. Even in our northern climate just the threat of CW-use constituted a major thermal load on the personnel due to the protective equipment.

    Exactly how dangerous weapons grade chemical agents are was borne home to me when I met and talked to a British scientist who had been investigating the use of CW in Angola during the 80s. (Yes, the Cubans used chemical warfare against South Africa and her allies. It was never made public because the SA authorities didn’t want to upset the home front.)

    Once she had been in a medical tent close to the front taking samples from an exposed soldier who was being treated with atropine drip. She had had to remove one glove to be able to carry out the procedure. The soldier coughed, and a minute drop of saliva hit her on the exposed skin of the hand – minutes later she had been in the bed next to the soldier also with atropine drip.

    That’s how potent weapons grade CW agents are.

    My guess is that the people killed or injured in Damascus have been exposed to an industrial grade toxic agent. But we will see what results the UN team will come up with.

    Posted August 28, 2013 at 3:03 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks, SB. The contamination of the workers is certainly a relevant point, if true.

    Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  3. Able says

    Concur with ScaniaBoy, the ratio of mortality/morbidity would definitely exclude an intentional exposure to weapons grade CW agents.

    “Medecins Sans Frontieres says hospitals it supports in Syria treated about 3,600 patients with “neurotoxic symptoms”, of whom 355 have died.”
    (BBC 24/8/13)

    The qualifiers are of course ‘intentional’ and ‘weapons grade’ (I acknowledge that ‘many’ dead may not have reached hospital but the ratios of minimal/late exposure still holds)

    The speculation on it being a neurotoxic agent seems to be just that, based on symptoms and

    “It (MSF) said many were treated with atropine, a drug administered to those with “neurotoxic symptoms”.”

    The kicker being that Doctors and technicians on-site haven’t a clue (and are therefore treating with atropine on a guess – and no stats on the results of such treatment)

    “MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said MSF Director of Operations Bart Janssens.

    From my experience they’d (as ScaniaBoy so succinctly explained) bloody well know what caused it by now, because they’d be treating each other.

    My supposition? No real idea, but ‘bath-tub’ CW (more likely rebel or AQ since .gov has the real deal), Industrial/medical chemical or … possibly one of the Russians favourite incapacitant agents. Just guessing though.

    Posted August 28, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Yes. See John McCreary’s comments, quoted in our more recent post.

    Posted August 28, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  5. Able says

    Just another thought before I do.

    The ‘attack’ took place in Ghoula. Ghoula is apparently East of Damascus and is described as ‘Agricultural Belt’.

    Hmm, could it be that common or garden (read farm) chemicals – thinking pesticides (organochlorines, organophosphates, etc.) are involved?

    Now I’ll read the rest to see what I’ve missed.

    Posted August 28, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  6. Mark says

    “Interesting”, indeed! Attacking both sides, I have to admit, does have a certain appeal. (Obliterating both sides, much more so.)

    I don’t see why attacking, say, Assad and his regime, much less “obliterating” them, would have any sort of appeal to a real Westerner. It’s gratuitous and dishonorable to the Aryan mind. It’s a very Jewish attitude, which is why it’s mainly Jews and Jewish affiliated types that express such a bloodthirsty attitude.

    Posted August 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Right, the idea of attacking your enemies, or eliminating them altogether, is utterly alien to the Aryan mind.

    Can’t recall any Aryans doing that lately!

    Let me get your argument straight: “That’s a Jewish attitude, which is why Jews have that attitude”.

    Brilliant! Thanks for commenting.

    By the way, I’m Scottish, not Jewish.

    Posted August 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  8. ScaniaBoy says

    @Malcolm, Able

    After that unfortunate interlude back to one of the original topics of the thread.

    While we are waiting for the results of the chemical analysis from the samples collected by the UN team (apparently the samples are now on their way to laboratories in Finland and Sweden) here is another suggestion what could have been the killing agent. A commenter on a thread in the Daily Caller, Steve, writes:

    A Falaq-2 Fuel Air Explosive (FAE) Rocket that failed to fully detonate could be spun into a “Chemical Warfare” Attack (see below). The Macabre Irony here is that if the FAE works as designed many many people are killed in a nasty thermobaric explosion but if not than they could die from chemical inhalation from the unspent munition thus dying from chemicals (but not the same as a Chemical Warfare Agent; ie. sarin, VX) and Obama can still spin it like it was a CW attack – cynical and deceitful !!!

    “It fits much more logically with what we would expect the Syrian regime to use while the UN chemical inspectors were in the same city; 3) an undetonated or not fully detonated fuel air explosive would spread a deadly chemical cloud just like a chemical air burst (which it is) of whatever chemical fuel is in the weapon, often ethylene oxide. It is a deadly cloud to inhale, but not near as deadly as sarin, mustard, or vw, or example, which explains the reports of these attacks have not been nearly as deadly in the past as one of have expected from a chemical warfare attack. In fact, the symptoms of the victims fit perfectly with ethylene oxide inhalation, much more so than the symptoms and effects on first responders, etc., do with sarin.

    Here is what the US Defence Intelligence Agency said about the fuel air explosive: “Since the most common [Fuel Air Explosive] fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents.”

    Finally, Ethylene Oxide, commonly used in fuel air explosives, can be deadly if inhaled in high enough concentrations and if inhaled can cause muscle twitching, flushing, headache, diminished hearing, acidosis, vomiting, dizziness, and transient loss of consciousness. It can irritate the skin but is not deadly to the touch. It is much less deadly than sarin or other common weaponized chemical weapons.”


    The ethers ethylene oxide and propylene oxide are gases and would of course dissipate very quickly after the detonation. Thus. the first aid workers would not be poisoned by these compounds, unless they were working in enclosed spaces that had been filled with the gases.

    I agree with Steve that there is a macabre irony if this were to be the case. Directing fuel-air bomb at civilian population would not trip any “red lines” whereas a CW-bomb would. And the only reason for the difference would be that thermobaric weapons had not been invented in the 1920s.

    Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    This is news to me, SB. Very interesting. More here.

    Posted August 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  10. Mark says

    Right, the idea of attacking your enemies, or eliminating them altogether, is utterly alien to the Aryan mind.

    Yes, wishing to attack and obliterate the parties involved in some foreign dispute is gratuitous and dishonorable to the Aryan mind. It’s the kind of bloodthirsty, eternally hostile attitude that arises in an international, peripatetic group.

    By the way, I’m Scottish, not Jewish.

    You have a Jewish wife, Jewish kids, you live in a Jewish dominated city, you identify with Jewish interests, etc.

    Posted September 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    For God’s sake, Herr Scharnhorst, what rubbish.

    The Nazis, who if memory serves made rather a big deal about being Aryans, attacked all of Europe. (As for “honorable”, one might argue that gassing helpless women and children in death camps, and using a false-flag attack to launch a world war, leave a bit of a blemish on the Aryan escutcheon, also.)

    The Persians were Aryans too (hence the name “Iran”). Do you suppose Darius and Cyrus and Xerxes shared your misgivings?

    As for the Jooooooz: yes, I rather like and admire them, on the whole. They are generally smart and funny people. Do they have an influence on the world’s affairs that is disproportional to their numbers? Yes. But if you seriously believe that this tiny population are the root cause of all of history’s bloodshed and woe, you have a screw loose. At best.

    I’ll thank you to leave my wife and children out of this discussion.

    Posted September 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

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