In terms of suffering caused, there is often not, in fact, much to choose between dismembering and burning people alive with high explosives, shredding them with shrapnel, and choking them with poison gas. Modern ‘conventional’ weapons can be far more cruel and devastating than, for example, chlorine gas. But chemical weapons, prohibited by international law, are extremely potent in allowing Western ‘humanitarians’ to justify ‘intervention’ in response to crimes – real, hyped or imagined – that the West has itself far surpassed using more respectable forms of mass murder.
Noam Chomsky has observed that
‘propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state’.
This is certainly true for social control at home, but propaganda also allows nominally democratic states to wield their military bludgeons abroad in much the same way as totalitarian states.
Thus, in April, it happened again: the entire corporate media system rose up with instant certainty to damn an enemy state for crimes against humanity on April 7, in Douma, Syria.
This was not acceptable death by bomb and bullet; this was a nerve gas attack. The villainous agent on every journalist’s lips: sarin, a highly toxic synthetic organophosphorus compound that has no smell or taste, but which quickly kills through asphyxiation.
As we discussed at the time, there was no question that this was a repetition of the fake justification for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, the Guardian editors insisted that this certainly was ‘a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth’. From the safety of his Guardian office, assistant editor Simon Tisdall hammered the drum for a war that risked even nuclear confrontation:
‘It means destroying Assad’s combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad’s and Russia’s control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.’
By contrast, Scott Ritter – a former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq who understands the issues – was more cautious:
‘The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons…’
No matter, on April 14, three days after Ritter’s article appeared, the US, UK and France attacked Syria in response to the unproven allegations….