Posts Tagged ‘sarin’

Syria and Sarin: What are the consequences of saying sarin gas carries no punishment?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

To Congressman Capuano, Senator Warren, and Senator Markey

Sirs, Madam:

I write this open letter as a constituent and supporter, to encourage you to help President Obama on the matter of Syria.

Certainly there are good reasons to not get involved in their civil war, and I share those concerns. I have been sickened to watch as 100,000 have been killed, but there are practical limits to what we can do. We still live in a world where killing ones own people is common, merely a domestic and sovereign concern. There is often little we can do beyond weep.

However, as depressing as that is, there is good news: I am proud we live in a world where the use of chemical weapons is not routine. And this could change. Chemical weapons are cheap and indiscriminate, perfect for rulers like Assad. He has them, and his weapons have been used. The heartbreaking evidence is before our eyes.

We cannot let this stand.

Precedents matter. Assad must be punished. He must be hit hard. It must hurt. It must be seen to hurt. He will pretend it is but a scratch, and that must be an obvious lie. If this weakens Assad’s grip on power, good, but that is not the purpose nor the measure of our action here. Harsh and coldblooded punishment is our purpose.

Will there be unintended consequences in this? Yes. But consider the alternative. What will the consequences be of telling every despot that using sarin carries no punishment?

Prohibitions on chemical weapons have been challenged. It would be shameful and cowardly for us to find excuses to look the other way.

Thank you for your attention.


Kent Borg

© 2013 by Kent Borg

Syria and Sarin: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

Friday, April 26th, 2013

I am watching MSNBC, and Chris Hayes suggested that after the break he would tell us what we should do next about Syria.  Okay, that might be interesting, but let me see if I can answer the question first.

It seems quite possible–though by no means certain–that Syria’s leader Assad has used Sarin gas. President Obama has warned of fearsome things we will do if Assad were to commit this crime…so now what?

I say: Let the punishment fit the crime. Or, maybe I should say: punish the crime.

The problem over these many months is that intervening in Syria is not a simple thing, or else we would have done it already. Libya wasn’t simple, but it sure was simple in comparison. Syria is a hard problem.

To re-ask one of Chris’ questions to his panel: Is there something we could do to make things better?

No. Not with any certainty. Most ideas would make matters worse.

Assad is doing nasty stuff, and, though there is plenty we could do, it isn’t clear that any of these things will make matters better.

So what in hell do we do about this red-line we talked up? If Assad has gone from being extremely nasty in nearly every way he can imagine, to being extremely nasty, plus using some Sarin, what do we do?

Arrgh. Just just because some red-line might have been crossed doesn’t change that Syria isn’t something we can’t obviously fix.

So what do we do?

Allow me to interrupt for a moment: Chris Hayes’ program just ended and it seems that they didn’t hit on an answer, so it is up to me. Oh, the responsibility! Good thing no one reads these things I write.

Let the punishment fit the crime. Punish the crime.

What has changed is that Assad (possibly) has committed a new crime. So the answer is to punish Assad–or whomever might have done it if we can figure it out (this is complicated!).

We should not try to fix this war, because we can’t. Even with Sarin on the ground, we still can’t. Sarin doesn’t make anything easier. So we should punish Assad–or whomever might have recently used Sarin, if anyone did.

Okay, maybe we start flying deadly drones over Damascus, or Tartus, and if we get a shot at someone responsible, then yes, we take it. We are causing lots of people to hate us for using drones around the world, I think we might improve our reputation with a drone or two over Tartus.

The crime was (possibly) using Sarin, in which case we should punish those who (possibly) did it.

The news out of Syria for the last two years makes me sick. It is horrible. Tens of thousands have been killed, raped, tortured, imprisoned. If you like “culture” more than humans: centuries old cultural heritage sites have been destroyed. It is horrible no matter how you look at it.

I would like that there would be something that we could do to make Syria better. And…if our punishment for this crime were to kill senior figures in Assad’s government and army…maybe it would make things better. I can’t see how it would make things much worse.

Let the punishment fit the crime. Take out those who (might have) done this.

-kb, the Kent who in fact does like The Mikado, and who wonders “Why do you ask?”

© 2013 by Kent Borg

P.S. “The struggle continues. Love, Daddy.”