The attack on Syria’s chemical weapon facilities was not merely aimed at Syria – it was also a message aimed at any nation/entity that might be considering the use of chemical weapons

Chemical Warfare – Beyond Syria

By —— Bio and Archives--April 16, 2018

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Chemical Warfare – Beyond Syria

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs….

—Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) “Dulce et Decorum Est”

It says something very profound about the horrors of chemical warfare that even given the inherent insanity of war the use of gas is universally considered beyond the pale.  The civilized nations of the world agree – chemical warfare is anathema, no exceptions.


Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and namesake of the famous “Nobel Prize,” thought that the use of dynamite in war would be so catastrophic that wars would end altogether.  Wrong.

Perhaps my factories will put an end to war sooner than your congresses: on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilized nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.  Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)

“All civilized nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.”  Uh…that didn’t happen.  Instead the generals asked for bigger, better, badder dynamite, and more of it, much more. 

Richard Gatling, the inventor of the eponymous “Gatling Gun,” also felt that his invention would make wars too terrible to be fought.  Wrong again.

If war was made more terrible, it would have a tendency to keep peace among the nations of the earth.Richard Gatling (1818-1903)

In 1897 the “New York Times,” writing about Hiram Maxim’s new machine gun, opined that “their mere existence might convince world leaders to settle conflicts diplomatically.”  Uh huh, whatever. 

My point here is that no matter how awful their ability to slaughter and maim is, the military is quick to embrace new inventions that harness improved ways of killing people.  The more the merrier.


So, as mentioned in my opening paragraph, the fact that chemical warfare has been (excepting outlier rogue nations) universally condemned and banned following its use in WW I, speaks volumes about its consummate nastiness.  For the same folks who eagerly engaged in blowing people to bits and mowing them down with machine guns to say “We draw the line at chemical weapons,” gives one pause.  Chemical warfare must be truly vile indeed.

Add to this the fact that chemical weapons are relatively easy to manufacture and the need to slap down hard on the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, should be obvious.

The attack on Syria’s chemical weapon facilities was not merely aimed at Syria – it was also a message aimed at any nation/entity that might be considering the use of chemical weapons.  The message being: “Don’t even think about it.”

[My son’s] face was blistered, blackened. He groaned
Like a calf faced with the knife.  I was still blind when he
died, could not see him, did not say goodbye.

Choman Hardi, Kurdish poet, “Gas Attack”


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Jim ONeill -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Born June 4, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Served in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1974 in both UDT-21 (Underwater Demolition Team) and SEAL Team Two.  Worked as a commercial diver in the waters off of Scotland, India, and the United States.  Worked overseas in the Merchant Marines.  While attending the University of South Florida as a journalism student in 1998 was presented with the “Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii AEJMC Research in Journalism Ethics Award,” 1st place undergraduate division.  (The annual contest was set up by Carol Burnett with money she won from successfully suing a national newspaper for libel).  Awarded US Army, US Navy, South African, and Russian jump wings.  Graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School, 1970).  Member of Mensa, China Post #1, and lifetime member of the NRA and UDT/SEAL Association.

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