Chemical Weapons Argument for Syria - More From the Hearings
In their opening statements, both Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel argued that one of the reasons to make war in Syria would be to uphold a century’s worth of world opinion that chemical weapons were beyond the pale. “Weakening this norm,” Hagel said, “could embolden other regimes to acquire and to use these weapons.” Then, he talked about the peril posed by North Korea. Here’s what I do not understand. There have been, to my recollection, any number of attacks with the use of chemical weapons in that very part of the world over the past 30 years. The Iran-Iraq War was replete with them, and it was replete with them because we helped it along.
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
Why did this not “weaken the norm”?
Why didn’t that war itself “weaken the norm”? Why doesn’t depleted uranium “weaken the norm”? Why doesn’t the use of white phosphorus “weaken the norm”? And let’s not even talk about Vietnam. Is it because we used the right chemicals? My point is that the norm is pretty damn threadbare by now.