Friday, October 25, 2019

A Blast From the Past

Six years (and change) ago I wrote the following post regarding Syria. Anyone remember what it was like back then? I do. When I wrote this, I was pretty riled up. How much has changed? Other than a lot more dead people, not much.

One could argue that things are worse now, a lot worse...

Author's Note: I included the original comments.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


WARNING! In today's post I am intentionally not pulling any punches when it comes to certain "bad" words. So be forewarned. If ye be of delicate disposition, or are easily upset, come back tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have calmed down by then.

Alright, first of all, for the record, I agree, the situation in Syria sucks. Especially if you're Syrian.

You've got the guy in power, Assad, who inherited his power from his Dad. Doesn't sound very free or democratic, does it? He's not a likeable guy from what I understand. Powerful dictators seldom are. But he is the guy in charge in an area of the world where you don't get to be the big boss because you were elected. No, you get to be in charge because you (or one of your ancestors) tossed out the previous guy in charge. Or your Dad was the previous guy in charge. (That's the way most of the world works by the way. Freedom is neither common nor widespread on this here Big Blue Marble.)

Now on the other hand you've got a group who wants Assad gone. Because you see, they want to be in charge. As there is no possibility of them winning an election to be in charge, you go the other route. You take up arms and start killing people. Usually the people who are part of, or actually like, Assad's regime. Until Assad is no longer in charge or you give up because Assad is kicking your ass. The latter seems to be the case. Assad's boys are kicking the opposition's butts. Except those guys have not given up yet. They have a few cards yet to play. But what do they really want? Sharia law, the Caliphate. Yes boys and girls, they are not like us. Not even a little.

Both sides in this squabble are not nice. No Tom Jeffersons or George Washingtons here. Maybe a Robespierre or three but I digress.

Now let's introduce another factor into the game. A real attention grabber. Chemical weapons or, as we now like to call them, "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Which is a perfectly stupid fucking name for things which are truly, truly horrible. But it's a good name for the media. Probably because they can refer to certain classes of weapons as "WMD". Which makes them sound cool. (Only to other assholes, but I digress.) And they don't really need to explain what they mean. Which most of the people listening wouldn't understand anyway.

Traditionally, weapons of mass destruction are: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons. One of my old jobs in the military was decontaminating people and equipment who had been exposed to one of these categories of weapons. They are nasty things indeed. Referring to them as "WMD" really pisses me off. It's a euphemism for something that the more genteel types don't want to think about. It's not about destruction, it's about fucking killing our fellow humans! In big bunches!

What has been used in Syria are chemical weapons. Which can be in the form of a gas, a liquid or even a solid (think of powder). Typically they're delivered in one of the first two ways (gas or liquid). More efficient, you get a better spread and you kill/incapacitate more people delivered in those ways. In this case the chemical used was a nasty thing called Sarin, a particularly nasty nerve agent delivered, in this case, in a gaseous form.

So, the big question is exactly WHO released these chemical weapons? Why would you use chemical weapons in the first place?

First of all, for military purposes you would use chemical weapons for area denial. Who would want to go into an area contaminated with (for instance) sarin? Uh, no one, that's who. Yes, you can enter the contaminated area wearing protective gear, like this:

But that stuff is cumbersome and uncomfortable. I know, I've had to wear that stuff for long periods of time. Your effectiveness (and enthusiasm!) wane pretty quickly under all that stuff. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to wear that stuff in the heat of a Middle Eastern summer!

The second military reason for using chemical weapons is to incapacitate a whole bunch of people all at once. Not necessarily kill them mind you, no, all you need to do is to render them incapable of resistance or make them go away. Think tear gas as used in crowd control. You want the crowd to knock it off, to go away.

Another reason to use chemical weapons is for the sheer terror unleashed by their use. Even military folks don't care for these types of weapons. This is a politician's weapon, something to use because it makes you look like a bad-ass. It's scary and terrorizes civilians. Point of emphasis here is that while military folks don't like chemical weapons, we are trained to deal with them.

It appears to me that there was no military reason for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons. From the accounts I've read and heard, they are winning this civil war. Why would they risk international condemnation for no apparent reason?

So what's another way to look at this? If someone uses chemical weapons, someone is going to notice that. People are going to be pissed off at whoever used the damn things. Who are these people who will get upset and make a big stink out of it? (Other than the victims and their relatives that is.) I'll tell you who, the Western news media. They love stories like this. (Well, unless it's someplace that's hard to get to and doesn't really have nice hotels.)

I guess the question everybody should be asking is "cui bono", who benefits?

Is that the question the triumvirate of asshattery in DC is asking? (That would be the oBummer, John "The Traitor" Kerry and John "Past His Prime" McCain. In case you were wondering.)

Nope, they've already decided that someone in Syria "did something bad". Therefore we have to punish them. And our head nitwit and his flunkies have decided that the Syrian government are responsible. Evidence? We don't need no stinking evidence!

But wouldn't this mostly benefit the folks trying to dump Assad? Wouldn't that be great if he gassed a bunch of his own people so that the bad-ass Yankees would go after him. Just like they (we) went after Ghaddafi in Libya? Wouldn't that be great for those guys?

Yes, let the Americans launch Tomahawks and bomb Assad's forces.

It all seems too pat.

And to me, anything which the oBummer wants to do stinks to high Heaven. And to have Kerry and McCain sign up for that as well? Something ain't right here people.

No American troops in, over or around Syria. That's my policy. It's not our fight. Yes, bad things are being done to people in Syria. But where were all these concerned assholes when bad things were being done to people in Darfur? Or any of a dozen or so other Third World places where there are no nice hotels or easy ways to get there? What about them?

I'll say it again.

It's. Not. Our. Fight.


  1. It's. Not. Our. Fight.

    I'll second that. Well said.
  2. Count me in complete agreement. Not that it will any difference, I sent the same message to the two Senators from my state.
  3. Thank you for saying that.I'm sure you've heard the old sayin'..."we aint got no dog in that fight", says it all here. You also said 'something aint right here', it sure ain't, what are the pols thinking? I know, I know they don't think.
  4. Hafez was an evil man. The current ruler was, I thought, perhaps a good man. Trained to be a doctor and ophthalmologist, he was recalled to Syria when the brother groomed to be king died. Are we advancing civilization by killing arab rulers? Egypt and Libya seem to be the fate of rulerless bits of geography. Have you looked at Somalia recently? We started the process there. Now that I think about it, it is probably for the best that al kida assassinated Shah Masood, otherwise we'd probably kill him.

    1. Egypt, Libya, Somalia, all with no one at the helm (it seems). I'm not sure we want to decapitate Syria as well. That part of the world is dangerous and chaotic enough. I have a bad feeling about getting involved there.
  5. Spot on, OLDAF Sarge!! We need to stay the hell out. These cultures just know how to kill and do not care how they do it or to whom! I read where Putin suggested it might be the rebel that gassed the civilians and not Assad as you also suggest. unless there is proof one way or the other, that is not a farfetched idea. Either way enough of this part of the world. If they threaten us or Isreal blow them the heck up, otherwise it is not our battle and no one ever wins over there anyway.
  6. Replies

    1. Speaking of Facebook, I sent you 1) a message and 2) a Friend request.
  7. Are you opposed to taking out the chemical weapons? No troops, just missiles, blow up the stockpiles so they can't be used again.

    1. Opposed is not the word I would use. I am, let us say, "conflicted" over firing Tomahawks into Syria. There are no guarantees of destroying their stores of chemical weapons with that method of attack. That's if it can be proven that Assad's forces actually used the chemicals. What if it was the anti-Assad forces? Is our goal to deny the use of these weapons to both sides? (Not a bad goal but unattainable in my view.)

      Many seem to have forgotten that dropping ordinance on other countries is an act of war. It all seems so antiseptic to launch missiles from platforms at sea, you just push a button. No "boots on the ground", no friendly aircraft in harm's way.

      But those missiles invariably cause collateral damage. You will have dead civilians. Even if, after hitting the chemical stockpiles, there is no inadvertant release of chemicals due to the missile attacks. (A possibility, no matter how remote.)

      It's messy. Yes, it's outrageous. But according to various sources, since this war started, between 83,260 and 110,370 Syrians have been killed. That's killed, not wounded. Roughly half of the dead were civilians. You can bet there are a lot of dead women and children in that count. A lot. How many were killed by the chemical attacks? For argument's sake, let's say 1500 dead.

      So we're pissed about those 1500, not the other 100,000+. Why? Because chemical weapons are the boogey man. They are nasty weapons and a horrible way to die. But seriously, is dying from artillery fire any less nasty? Then let's bomb their artillery ammo stockpiles as well.

      The situation over there is a mess, we need to keep our distance. I think we'd all be happier if Syria did not have chemical weapons. Hell, it would be great if nobody had chemical weapons. But that genie is out of the bottle.

      Attempting to take out Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles with Tomahawks would be, IMHO, grandstanding. And would also probably prove to be ineffective. Do we even know where these weapons are stored?

      Like I said, a mess.

      But if we could do it? Realistically? Then no, I'm not opposed. But we can't, so perhaps I am opposed, knowing that it would be ineffective. You see what I mean?

  8. Well fumed, Olaf.

    Much bitching in the Britpress too, with both the left and the wobblies in the middle trying to rubbish the PM's `defeat`. Personally, that's the sort of democratic `defeat` I can live with under these circumstances, in fact I'd go so far as to call it a technical victory - technical because it still leaves the question of gassed and poisoned civvies and the origins of those chemical munitions, currently leading the trail back to the big bad one without a chin.

    I happen to believe that the vote in Parliament spoke large about my country. We are allies of America and from my perspective I mean an ally of the American people, regardless of who is the CinC, that is a given. But whatever happens, our forces and Government will be involved, in many and various places, albeit not releasing munitions (openly, anyway), but we are not awesome-big and powerful like America. Yes we have our global nuclear deterrent and our armed forces come pretty close to the top of the league in terms of training and resolve. Our SF are, pound for pound, up there with the hardest hitters and, I would argue, the best you could buy. But, I reiterate, big we ain't eg. we were heavily reliant on the huge US tactical logistical support when we stuck our bayonets into Libya - and what a fucking mess that still is. Anything `arab` is messy, even when it involves those who claim to be friendly - and I mean no cheap insult when I say that.

    1. Great observations HD.

      Your comment regarding your SF? Spot on, I would rely on your guys anytime, anywhere. (We Yanks tend to salivate over the SAS, forgetting that there's also the SBS, the Special Recce Reg and the Support Group. All good lads to have your back in a fight!)
  9. Stay the hell out? Not a chance.

    Obama needs a diversion. Economy tanking, scandals, unfathomable ineptitude. Nothing like a splendid little war for that. He wants this just like y'all wanted that Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas......he WANTS it. The vote does not really matter. It is high theatre for the low information voters. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan would say "Boob bait for the Bubbas". If Congress approves he bombs away and struts like a peacock. If Congress votes against, he pontificates about those Republicans, claims he has to protect the country and be above this partisanship ergo, bombs away and struts like a peacock.

    It is almost comical that I believe the Russian leader more than my own......let Allah sort this out.
    1. I see that, large, Rumbear.As I posted in another friendly place today, I believe the military is there to save the arse of a Nation, not the arse of a politician.
    2. We really are at the point of bread and circuses aren't we?

      I'm afraid you hit the nail on the head Rumbear.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


  1. Bravo. I couldn't agree more with your assessment. As to your use of salty language, coming from you it makes a much greater impact and really gets your point across.

    1. I was looking for another old post, found this, liked it, decided to repost. Especially what with the recent brouhaha over DJT pulling people out of Syria. All I could say to that move was, "About damned time!"

  2. Good strategery Sarge, toss in sume fureign words ther and klass up the jointe. Us flyovah kinds don't now nuthing about them thar fureign entangl.....entanglm........emtann....mixxupps. Seems like what's changed is the passage of six years in a area where killing is several thousand years old. You were spot on six years ago Sarge. Oh..... 28F at 0639.......brrrrr!

    1. 41 feels like 31 down here.

      Good post, Sarge, can't disagree. The only two reasons for any dealings in the Middle East are Oil and ???. As Insty is wont to say, "God Bless the Frackers".

    2. Nylon12 - Time passes slowly in that region, nothing seems to ever change. Just the names of the dictators and the size of the body count.

      28F, it's that time of year. We're not there yet, bless the sea for moderating our weather.

    3. Juvat - Yeah, your neck of the woods is no stranger to temperature extremes is it?

      Love them frackers.

  3. Dang, it took me forever to make the comments work. SMH. Airdale.

    Extremely well done. As you so often do, you took a good, detailed look at a situation while all the crapital-em media were just regurgitating propaganda. One of the great values of the interwebs and venues such as yours.

    As always I hope that at least a few people will start with the objective overview you and others provide, ruminate for a bit, then take a further step back and ponder their own personal responsibility in the mess. The point isn't that we all have to individually solve the big problem. The point is to not get lost in the propaganda, pick a side, and then spend a lot of time searching out red meat. That's wasted time when a person should be doing their best to do the important stuff on their own plate -- including thinking through principles and responsibilities. At least that's the way I see it.

    1. Gotta start with yourself, 'tis the only one you really can control. If you can influence those around you by moderate, common sense words and deeds, at least your corner of the world is taken care of. Just think if everyone did that, be fewer problems.

      (Leaving in the old comments exactly as is even confused me!)

  4. How positively Trumpian. You are a man before your time, like 1 year before your time.

    So nice of #44 to leave that steaming pile of carp and urine and non-alcohol fermented apple juice for Trump, almost like he meant to.

    Or it was another incident of "Missiles for Monica."

    Either way, it showed that the feckless children were definitely at the helm of this great Ship of State. Fatherless sons and female intact dogs of whelping age, all!

    I am all for pulling out of all of the Middle East, and only going full "Wind and the Lion" to protect actual US interests and Citizens. (Citizen here means not some round rectal muscle who goes to fight with the bad people, changes his/her religion to the Religion of Pieces (and flying gays...), sorry, once you renounce your citizenship, you're not a citizen..)

  5. It just seems wrong to take the position that if it is not in our interest we should not do it...except that nothing in that area of the world ever seems to make things any better. So I say stay the frig out unless it involves our own defense or economic (oil) interests or supporting our friends (Israel). If we leave and Russia fills the vacuum, let them, IT IS A VACUUM! I don't want our lives lost for a friggin VACUUM!

  6. Other than the chem weps, this post is as timely today as it was the first time, although that's why you posted it. I am conflicted. Leaving sucks for the Kurds, but they are friends, not Allies and NATO partners. And we can't side with them over NATO. If we have no nation interest and we've taken out ISIS, then it's time to leave. The region will always be unstable. Afghanistan is back to being a $#17H*#e, and we're still there. We have decimated ISIS, but we have only decimated ISIS, not wiped them off the face of the planet. They are outstanding recruiters, and their Sunni religion is the largest and fastest growing in the world. They will "un-decimate" themselves in 5 years and they'll move east and south. It's a tough decision, and while I too want to get the hell out of the region, we'll be back most likely.

  7. The growth of religions:


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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