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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Another Excuse Gone

Doctors performing autopsies on victims of the gas attack in Syria have now confirmed that the people died as a result of sarin gas.  This lethal nerve gas is a weapon that is not easy to acquire.  It is a weapon of a nation-state.  It requires careful production methods.  It is also a weapon that is outlawed by international treaty.  Using sarin is a war crime. 

The news that the gas was sarin gets rid of multiple excuses being tossed around with regard to Syria.  We know that the gas appeared when planes dropped bombs on a Sunni village in Idlib Province in Syria.  The planes were those of the Assad forces or its allies.  No one else aside from the USA and the Turks have planes in the area, and neither of those countries conduct bombing raids on their allies.  Residents of the village said that the planes were from the Syrian air force controlled by Assad.  The Russians, however, deny that Assad's forces dropped chemical weapons.  They claim that the bombs from the Assad planes broke open a chemical weapons storage facility used by the Sunni rebels and that the lethal gas was then released.  Sarin disproves this.  The Sunni rebels do not have the capacity to manufacture sarin.  They certainly can't be buying it since no country other than Iran and Russia is known to have a stockpile.  We can be confident that neither of those two countries have been selling lethal gas weapons to those forces fighting Russian and Iranian troops in Syria.  Sarin is also a chemical weapon that Assad was manufacturing before he signed an agreement negotiated by the USA and Russia under which Assad supposedly stopped all manufacture and gave up all his chemical weapons.  It is now clear that this was just another exercise in futility by president Obama and secretary Kerry.  Assad signed the agreement and then thumbed his nose at the USA and the world.

It seems likely that President Trump is going to take some sort of action against the Assad forces.  Yesterday, he announced that the gas attack had crossed all kinds of lines.  He also said that Obama's inaction after Assad crossed his "redline" regarding use of poison gas was a terrible mistake.  It certainly sounds like the President is planning to do something other than just make a speech like Obama would have done.  Hopefully, the USA knows where the poison gas is being manufactured.  Dropping three or four cruise missiles on those sites would be a good start in the ending of Assad's war crimes.  Similarly, an attack on the remaining bases of the Syrian Air Force would do wonders towards bringing peace in Syria.  We don't need to send more troops to Syria, but we should take steps to make sure that mass death from nerve gas does not reappear there.

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