the rundown

the internet is a crazy place-
here is your Syria-cocktail-party briefing-

  • Max Fisher of the Washington Post ‘9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask‘. just read it.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks. excerpts: ” the President asked all of us on his national security team to consult with the leaders of Congress as well, including the leadership of the Congressional national security committees.” ” we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year and has used them on a smaller scale, but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened. We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so. We know that for three days before the attack the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area making preparations. And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions. We know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.” “The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders, the doctors, nurses, and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger. This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.”
  • Article 36 has a good bit here on Syria and global norms about specific weapons types.
  • A brief on Chemical Weapons from Dana Liebelson here. :”What is a chemical weapon? Experts generally categorize chemical weapons based on their biological effects. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, chemical weapons include nerve agents, choking agents, blister agents such as mustard gas, blood agents, chemicals that cause psychotic disorders, and riot-control agents, such as tear gas. Also included are defoliants such as Agent Orange, which was used by the United States in Vietnam.” “Which chemical agent was used in Syria? Sarin, allegedly. When absorbed through the skin, sarin attacks the nervous system and can kill a person in 5 to 10 minutes. It was developed in 1938 in Nazi Germany and was allegedly tested on people in concentration camps. Sarin was the gas used a deadly 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway by an extremist cult. (See timeline below.)”  She winds the article up with a nice timeline regarding the use of chemical weapons.
  • James Traub weighs some of the costs and benefits to airstrikes in humanitarian situations here. “The alternative is not war or even an open-ended commitment. Instead of a punitive action designed to make a point about American resolve, the United States, acting with European and Middle Eastern allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, could reduce the Syrian regime’s capacity to perpetrate mayhem through a much more robust campaign of stand-off strikes on Syrian artillery and airfields, military and intelligence facilities, Assad’s palace, and other key sites. At the same time, they could step up the pace of training and arming the opposition while continuing to pursue the possibility, however remote, of a diplomatic settlement to the conflict.”

syriaForMax (2)

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