Today on Blogcritics
Home » If Saddam won’t do it, we will

If Saddam won’t do it, we will

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Quick quiz:

True or false: The U.S. is planning to break international law again, this time by violating the Chemical Weapons Convention with the use of banned chemical weapons in Iraq.

True or false: Despite their opposition to Saddam’s possession of chemical weapons, some key members of Bush’s Cabinet are actually on record as having opposed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

True or false: Some pro-warriors, fearing the answers to these questions, are right at this moment rapidly trying to formulate a rationalization to support the illegal use of chemical weapons, as long as it is the U.S. doing it.

I’ll help you out on that last one: Our chemical weapons (very real and already shipped into the region) aren’t as bad as the chemical weapons we imagine Saddam has.

George Monbiot (is that a French name?…hmm) writes in the Guardian:

    Last week George Bush authorised US troops to use tear gas in Iraq. He is permitted to do so by an executive order published in 1975 by Gerald Ford, which overrides, within the US, the 1925 Geneva Protocol on chemical weapons. While this may prevent his impeachment in America, it has no standing in international law.

    The Chemical Weapons Convention, promoted by George W’s father and ratified by the United States in 1997, insists that “each State Party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.” Tear gas, pepper spray and other incapacitants may be legally used on your own territory for the purposes of policing. They may not be used in another country to control or defeat the enemy.

    For the past two months, US officials have been seeking to wriggle free from this constraint. In February, the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told Congress’s armed services committee that “there are times when the use of non-lethal riot agents is perfectly appropriate.” He revealed that he and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Richard Myers, had been “trying to fashion rules of engagement” for the use of chemical weapons in Iraq.

    Rumsfeld, formerly the chief executive of GD Searle, one of the biggest drugs firms in the US, has never been an enthusiast for the Chemical Weapons Convention. In 1997, as the senate was preparing to ratify the treaty, he told its committee on foreign relations that the convention “will impose a costly and complex regulatory burden on US industry”. Enlisting the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy with which we have since become familiar, he maintained that it was not “realistic”, as global disarmament “is not a likely prospect”. Dick Cheney, now vice-president, asked the committee to record his “strong opposition” to ratification.

    Last month Victoria Clarke, an assistant secretary in Chemical Donald’s department, wrote to the Independent on Sunday, confirming the decision to use riot control agents in Iraq, and claiming, without supporting evidence, that their deployment would be legal. Last week the US Marine Corps told the Asia Times that “CS gas and pepper spray had already been shipped to the Gulf”. The government of the United States appears to be on the verge of committing a war crime in Iraq.

    Given that the entire war contravenes international law, does it matter? It does, for three reasons. The most immediate is that there is no such thing as a non-lethal chemical weapon. Gases which merely incapacitate at low doses, in well-ventilated places, kill when injected into rooms, as the Russian special forces found in October when they slaughtered 128 of the 700 hostages they were supposed to be liberating from a Moscow theatre. It is impossible to deliver a sufficient dose to knock out combatants without also delivering a sufficient dose to kill some of their captives.

    The second reason is that, if they still possess them, it may induce the Iraqi fighters to retaliate with chemical weapons of their own. At the same time, it encourages the other nations now threatened with attack by George Bush to start building up their chemical arsenals: if the US is not prepared to play by the rules, why should they?

    The third reason is that the use of gas in Iraq may serve, in the eyes of US citizens, to help legitimise America’s illegal chemical weapons development programme. As the US weapons research group the Sunshine Project has documented, the defence department and the army are experimenting with chemicals which cause pain, fear, convulsions, hallucinations and unconsciousness, and developing the hollow mortar rounds required to deliver them. Among the weapons they are testing is fentanyl, the drug which turned the Moscow theatre into a gas chamber. Since March 2002, the government’s “non-lethal weapons directorate” has been training the Marine Corps in the use of chemical weapons.

    [the full article]

Powered by

About Brian Flemming

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    What? We might possibly use TEAR GAS for crowd control? But… but, that’s a “chemical weapon.” Why, let’s start jury selection in the Hague for Dubya’s war crimes trial RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

    Nonsense like this is a good example of exactly why Dubya is right to be highly suspicious of international law and war crimes tribunals. Some brave US soldiers doing their honest best could very easily find themselves being snatched up to sit in front of French or Syrian judges being tried for bogus “war crimes” just this easy.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

  • Rob

    Come on now, Brian, balking at the use of “tear gas”? Better that rioters should tear everything up, or better that the soldiers have to shoot them? This is a classic example of your disdain for the current president getting in the way of common sense or reason.

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    Look, we signed the agreements and now we want to ignore them. This isn’t an argument about tear gas being non-lethal. Tear gas is included in the chemical weapons agreements for a very specific reason: It’s not easy, in some cases impossible, to fight a conventional war with your enemy tear gassing you. If you’re trying to fight under a haze of tear gas, you’ll find that you have to resort to unconventional means — chem, bio, nuke — to stand a chance. Tear gas is excluded FOR A REASON, a reason Bush seems ready to ignore.

  • InMarin

    Now, now Al…it’s a matter of degrees, doncha know. If W is willing to flaunt international law by invading Iraq, using tear gas and developing mini-nukes, what’s to prevent him from flaunting more international laws?

    Besides, you’d be screaming at the top of your lungs if Saddam used tear gas against Americans.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    I wrote:

    True or false: Some pro-warriors, fearing the answers to these questions, are right at this moment rapidly trying to formulate a rationalization to support the illegal use of chemical weapons, as long as it is the U.S. doing it.

    Al wrote:

    Some brave US soldiers doing their honest best could very easily find themselves being snatched up to sit in front of French or Syrian judges being tried for bogus “war crimes” just this easy.

    Rob wrote:

    Come on now, Brian, balking at the use of “tear gas”? Better that rioters should tear everything up, or better that the soldiers have to shoot them? This is a classic example of your disdain for the current president getting in the way of common sense or reason.

    Answer: True

  • Matt Libby

    Please…

    Your use of terms is very intriguing. Somewhat similar to John Kerry’s use of “Regime Change”…

    Trying to associate Sarin, Mustard agents, and the other lethal chemicals that the Iraqi regime possesses, and we also possess, with tear gas is a long reach. We can carry pepper spray in canisters in our pocket. Have you tried to buy pocket Sarin lately? Or anthrax?

    If the Iraqis want to use tear gas, let them.

    The chemicals that they want to use kill, Sarin, or permanently maim, the Mustard agents. Ours will merely incapacitate them for a short period. We’ll hold them as POWs and then, assuming they didn’t do anything stupid prior to being captured, let them return to Iraqi society.

    Would you prefer this approach or would you prefer the approach of blasting them to bits where even their own family can’t identify the remains?

    Look, we signed the agreements and now we want to ignore them.

    An agreement occurs between one or more parties. The UN is a farce and should be abolished in the current form. It has made a transition from an honorable world body to a US obstacle. Kyoto? Merely a ploy to extract more money from the US to siphon back to the UN. All UN decisions on what the US can do are based on how much money we want to send.

    United States – Status in the UN
    UN dues: #1
    Foreign aid: #1
    Loss of Life in Conflicts Endorsed by the UN: #1

    US: Kicked off Human Rights Committee
    Human Rights Committee Chair: Libya
    Future Disarmament Committee Chair: Iraq
    (Scheduled prior to start of war)

    These facts alone make the UN a complete joke as well as any regulations or laws that they’ve tried to make.

    As if you haven’t figured it out, the world bodies were created with an idealist mindset. Our country’s leaders, thankfully, have figured out that we live in a world of realism not ideals. Ideals are pretty and no one gets hurt, unfortunately, things don’t work that way.

    Non-lethal alternatives should be encouraged. It allows the objective to be achieved while limiting loss of life.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Matt,

    You wrote:

    Trying to associate Sarin, Mustard agents, and the other lethal chemicals that the Iraqi regime possesses, and we also possess, with tear gas is a long reach

    Apparently you missed part of what I wrote in the article above. You can scroll up to read this:

    Our chemical weapons…aren’t as bad as the chemical weapons we imagine Saddam has.

    By “aren’t as bad” what I meant to say was “aren’t as bad.”

    CS gas has proven to be lethal in the right circumstances. And as san points out, once we start flagrantly violating rules of war, we have NO STANDING if the other side does it. We can’t violate the clear letter and spirit of the Chemical Weapons Convention and then credibly assail Saddam’s army for also violating it. Once the rules are gone far enough, the rules are GONE.

    If the Iraqis want to use tear gas, let them.

    First off, Hey, thanks for supporting the troops! I’m sure the families of the soldiers who die in a tent suddenly filled with CS gas are going to be happy to hear that you gave the Iraqis permission to do it.

    Second, one has to be on another planet to assume that the U.S. IS IN TOTAL CONTROL OF HOW QUICKLY THE RULES DISAPPEAR. To violate the Chemical Weapons Convention FIRST would be an escalation. Then, Iraq’s army (which, by the way is already under more pressure, to say the least) will feel that THEY can now perform an escalation.

    Don’t you GET THAT? Do you live in some fantasy world where everybody on Earth views everything from a pro-U.S. standpoint–from the perspective that if the U.S. does it, it’s okay?

    These facts alone make the UN a complete joke as well as any regulations or laws that they’ve tried to make.

    This example of a “no-compromise” mentality is what depresses me so much. Not that you have it–some people always will, I know that–but that Bush and those who influence his thinking also have it. There is no doubt that the U.S. is strong enough to do whatever it wants right now. While every member of the U.N. has tolerated some resolution or action that they didn’t like, the U.S. seems to feel that it has to tolerate no compromise whatsoever.

    That will work as long as the rest of the world decides to accept this arrogant attitude. Yes, they will have to tolerate it today, and tomorrow, and next year. But how long would YOU tolerate it? How long would YOU wait to maneuver with others to bring down an arrogant bully who rewrites the rules to suit his needs at any given moment?

    I don’t know if the pro-war people really get this. Those advocating for cooperation are championing the future of the U.S. We don’t necessarily disagree that some compromises are indeed compromises, that some (wait, all) members of the U.N. have their own agendas, that the organization involves a certain amount of…politics.

    But that doesn’t mean we should abandon it just because we can. It’s not always going to be like this. If we pursue this course, and then a decade or two down the line we find ourselves no longer the sole superpower on Earth, I’ll bet you’ll be the first one encouraging every other country to erase its memory–to forget how we acted starting back in 2001. To forget how much you gloried in the humiliation of France and Germany. To forget how much disdain you had for everyone else on the globe.

    Just like you want everyone else on Earth to let us violate the Chemical Weapons Convention to suit our needs but not allow anyone else to violate it any further, you’re going to insist on the same kind of magical exceptions for the U.S. when things turn down the road. Hey, forget how we acted! Let’s restart history now!

    They’re not going to do it, Matt. The time to get along with the world is NOW, when we DON’T actually need to for our short-term goals. We don’t need to roll over for them. But showing utter contempt–I mean, outright insulting some of the great powers of the last century, going to the U.N. under false pretenses, forcing the Security Council to play along with our charade until we essentially said “f— you,” glorying in the humiliation of people who had the impudency to disagree with the wisdom of our foreign policy–just isn’t smart.

    I can tell it makes you feel good. But it isn’t smart.

  • Perry Perdis

    Where was all this so called cooperation that were supposed to have when dealing with the UN when France and Germany and who knows how many other countries were still selling weapons to Iraq
    until just before the war started (supposedly while increasing sanctions against Iraq).

    I agree with Brian in the way this war was started,we didnt have to insult other countries for this.
    But what about the UN resolutions that Iraq flagrantly showed their ass at,wasnt that an insult to the rest of the world?
    What about the hundreds of thousands of his own population that Saddam killed? Why didnt the UN act on that? All i ever remember was sanctions and oil for food. Why did the UN send troops to Kosovo and not to Iraq? The same thing was happening in Iraq. It’s because the United Nations
    has become it own political nightmare. When China,Russia,France,Germany and who ever else decides that they want to sell military supplies to terrorist nations,i dont see the UN doing dick to stop it or even MENTION it. The days of UN sanctions are numbered and thank god for that.
    Before you know it,the U.S. will be under UN sanctions that we will have to ignore just as much as every other country has. This might be bad for mending fences,but they are OUR fences to repair as we see fit. Ask yourself a few questions like these. Where would the UN be WITHOUT the U.S. military?
    Where would Russia be WITHOUT U.S. dollars in the BILLIONS to shore their economy up?
    Where would Europe look to for help (as it always does) in time of need? Do you honestly think Qaddafi,Arafat,Milosevic,or any of these other “peace loving leaders” would give a rats ass about those issues? Dont hold your breath thinking about it,you’ll definitely pass out.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Perry,

    Yeah, we need an international structure that works better. I agree with you.

    But the burden falls on us to create it. And I don’t see that the Bush Administration has any plans along these lines. Their plan is, no exaggeration, the U.S. will dominate with its military strength, and thus there will be no disagreement. Because anyone who disagrees with us…well, you get the picture.

    A recipe for long-term peace?

    The kind of country you want?

    This Newsweek article lays it out pretty well I think.

  • Demon-crat

    Posted by Brian Flemming: CS gas has proven to be lethal in the right circumstances.

    I don’t think we’ll be sticking a person in a 6’x6′ room and pumping CS gas into it anytime soon.

    By the way (a little off subject, but a question I would like answered STRAIGHT), did Saddam go to the UN to ask permission when he invaded Iran in 1980, or Kuwait in 1991?

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    did Saddam go to the UN to ask permission when he invaded Iran in 1980, or Kuwait in 1991?

    No. He was not concerned with the U.N.

    However, he WAS concerned about the U.S.

    He had the enthusiastic support of the U.S. during his war with Iran. (Of course, Iran had support from the U.S., too, behind Saddam’s back.)

    And as far as Kuwait goes, Saddam had reason to believe he had tacit permission from the United States to invade Kuwait.

    U.S. Ambassador April Gillespie to Saddam Hussein, shortly before the invasion of Kuwait:

    “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait…James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.” (San Francisco Examiner, 11/18/02)

    So in this sense the U.S. is being consistent. Saddam only needed the permission of the U.S. for these invasions, and the U.S. only needs the permission of the U.S. for its invasions, too.