Syria: Push For War With Little Evidence

There still no hard evidence that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad used an unknown chemical weapons, possibly an organophosphate, on his own people in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. Yet, the Obama administration and some hawkish members of congress are pushing for air strikes to take out strategic targets, swearing that it wi.l be limited, not target the civilian population or require American troops on the ground. The purpose as stated by Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to send a message to Assad to not use chemical weapons again without any evidence that he did. There are no guarantees that this will even work or that Assad will not strike back as is his right according to the UN Charter.

Chief of correspondents for McClatchy Newspapers and co-author of a recent article, Mark Seibel joined Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Nereem Shaikh to discuss the holes in the evidence.

TRanscript can be read here

“When it came to questions of the efficacy of a U.N. investigation, or the number of people killed in the conflict, or even the U.S. rendition of what happened in what order, there are contradictions,” Seibel says. The United States has claimed it had “collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence” that showed the Assad government preparing for an attack three days before the event. “That claim raises two questions,” Seibel writes. “Why didn’t the U.S. warn rebels about the impending attack and save hundreds of lives? And why did the administration keep mum about the suspicious activity when on at least one previous occasion U.S. officials have raised an international fuss when they observed similar actions?”


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    • TMC on 09/04/2013 at 20:26
  1. The doctrine of humanitarian intervention holds that one state has the right to intervene militarily to protect population in another state.  A United States military court recognized as much at Nuremberg.…  p. 981-982.  This would legitimize punishment for use of chemical weapons against civilian populations.

    The doctrine of reprisals allows the taking of otherwise unlawful action to punish and deter violations of the law of war.  In World War II, for example, Germany put Canadian POWs in chains, and the Canadians did so themselves to German POWs.  Reprisals are not allowed against civilians and civilian objects, but that leaves a wealth of legitimate military targets.  This doctrine, too, would legitimize strikes in response to use of chemical weapons.

    The use of poison gas has been against international law since 1900, if not earlier.  That was entry-into-force date of treaties banning use of “poison or poisoned arms” and missiles delivering “asphyxiating or deleterious gases” in international armed conflict.. and .  See also   Key parts of two these treaties are known loosely as the “Hague Regulations,” not “The Geneva Convention.”  Turkey ratified all these agreements.  Turkey controlled the territory that became Syria.   Therefore, Syria, too, is bound by those conventions.    

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