British Prime Minister Theresa May will use nuclear weapons “as a first strike” against UK’s enemies, even if the country is not directly attacked, says Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.
“In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Fallon told state-funded BBC on Monday.
Asked what the circumstances would be, the British Defense chief said, “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.”
He further argued that “The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”
Later in the day, Fallon’s spokesman asserted that there was “no reason to disagree with what the defense secretary said.”
Last year, a vote in the House of Commons saw MPs vote for Trident’s renewal, which would cost billions of pounds.
Activists oppose the renewal of Trident, describing it as a violation of international commitments, unsafe and ill-suited for contemporary warfare.
Three Syrian forces have been killed in a fresh Israeli attack on a military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, a military official says.
The attack hit the al-Fawwar camp on Sunday, wounding two others, the unnamed official told the French news agency AFP.
It was not clear whether the assault was an airstrike or shelling. The attack comes after Israel struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau on Friday, “causing damage.”
A Syrian military source told the official SANA news agency that the Israeli aggression came after an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate military positions in Quneitra was foiled and the assailants suffered heavy losses.
The Israeli military confirmed the raid in a statement, saying it was conducted shortly after three mortar shells allegedly fired from Syria hit an open area in the northern occupied Golan Heights.
The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.
In the past, the Syrian army has confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from terrorists fighting the government forces. There are also reports that Tel Aviv has been treating the extremists wounded in Syria.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.
The regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area ever since and used the region to carry out military operations against the Syrian government.
Army advances against militants
Separately on Sunday, Syrian forces recaptured Halfaya town in the west-central Hama Province, the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel reported.
Meanwhile, pro-opposition media reported fierce clashes between the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northern countryside of Hama.
US defense officials also told Fox News that the Daesh terrorist group is now centered in the city of Dayr al-Zawr, some 144 kilometers southeast of Raqqah, the Takfiri outfit’s de facto capital in Syria.
They said that US military drones have watched hundreds of Daesh “bureaucrats” or administrators, leaving Raqqah in the past two months.
“We are fighting in Korea so we won’t have to fight in Wichita, or in Chicago, or in New Orleans, or in San Francisco Bay.”
— President Harry S Truman, 1952
Why has this tiny nation of 24 million people invested so much of its limited resources in acquiring nuclear weapons? North Korea is universally condemned as a bizarre and failed state, its nuclear posture denounced as irrational.
Yet North Korea’s stance cannot be separated out from its turbulent history during the 20th Century, especially its four decade long occupation by Japan, the forced division of the Korean peninsula after World War II, and, of course, the subsequent utterly devastating war with the United States from 1950-1953 that ended in an armistice in which a technical state of war still exists.
Korea is an ancient nation and culture, achieving national unity in 608 CE, and despite its near envelopment by gigantic China it has retained its own unique language and traditions throughout its recorded history. National independence came to an end in 1910 after five years of war when Japan, taking advantage of Chinese weakness, invaded and occupied Korea using impressed labor for the industries Japan created for the benefit of its own economy. As always the case for colonization the Japanese easily found collaborators among the Korean elite Koreans to manage their first colony.
Naturally a nationalist resistance movement emerged rapidly and, given the history of the early 20th Century, it was not long before communists began to play a significant role in Korea’s effort to regain its independence. The primary form of resistance came in the form of “peoples’ committees” which became deeply rooted throughout the entire peninsula, pointedly in the south as well. It was from these deeply political and nationalistic village and city committees that guerrilla groups engaged the Japanese throughout WWII. The parallels with similar organizations in Vietnam against the Japanese, and later against the French and Americans, are obvious. Another analogous similarity is that Franklin Roosevelt also wanted a Great Power trusteeship for Korea, as for Vietnam. Needless to say both Britain and France objected to this plan.
When Russia entered the war against Japanese in August of 1945 the end of Japanese rule was at hand regardless of the atomic bomb. As events turned out Japan surrendered on 15 August when Soviet troops had occupied much of the northern peninsula. It should be noted that American forces played no role in the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule. However, because the Soviets, as allies of the U.S., wished to remain on friendly terms they agreed to the division of Korea between Soviet and American forces. The young Dean Rusk, later to become Secretary of State under Kennedy and Johnson, arbitrarily drew a line of division across the 38th Parallel because, as he said, that would leave the capital city, Seoul, in the American zone.
Written reports at the time criticized Washington for “allowing” the Red Army into Korea but the fact was it was the other way around. The Soviets could easily have occupied the entirety of Korea but chose not to do so, instead opting for a negotiated settlement with the U.S. over the future of Korea. Theoretically the peninsula would be reunited after some agreement between the two victors at some future date.
However, the U.S. immediately began to favor those Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese in the exploitation of their own country and its people, largely the landed elites, and Washington began to arm the provisional government it set up to root out the peoples’ committees. For their part the Soviets supported the communist nationalist leader, Kim Il-Sung who had led the guerrilla army against Japan at great cost in lives.
In 1947 the United Nations authorized elections in Korea, but the election monitors were all American allies so the Soviets and communist Koreans refused to participate. By then the Cold War was in full swing, the critical alliance between Washington and Moscow that had defeated Nazi Germany had already been sundered. As would later also occur in Vietnam in 1956, the U.S. oversaw elections only in the south of Korea and only those candidates approved by Washington. Syngman Rhee became South Korea’s first president protected by the new American armed and trained Army of the Republic of Korea. This ROK was commanded by officers who had served the Japanese occupation including one who had been decorated by Emperor Hirohito himself and who had tried to track down and kill Kim Il Sung for the Japanese.
With Korea thus seemingly divided permanently both Russian and American troops withdrew in 1948 though they left “advisers” behind. On both sides of the new artificial border pressures mounted for a forcible reunification. The fact remained that much of rural southern Korea was still loyal to the peoples committees. This did not necessarily mean that they were committed communists but they were virulent nationalists who recognized the role that Kim’s forces had played against the Japanese. Rhee’s forces then began to systematically root out Kim’s supporters. Meanwhile the American advisers had constantly to keep Rhee’s forces from crossing the border to invade the north.
In 1948 guerrilla war broke out against the Rhee regime on the southern island of Cheju, the population of which ultimately rose in wholesale revolt. The suppression of the rebellion was guided by many American agents soon to become part of the Central Intelligence Agency and by military advisers. Eventually the entire population was removed to the coast and kept in guarded compounds and between 20,000 and 30,000 villagers died. Simultaneously elements of the ROK army refused to participate in this war against their own people and this mutiny was brutally suppressed by those ROK soldiers who would obey such orders. Over one thousand of the mutineers escaped to join Kim’s guerrillas in the mountains.
Though Washington claimed that these rebellions were fomented by the communists no evidence surfaced that the Soviets provided anything other than moral support. Most of the rebels captured or killed had Japanese or American weapons.
In North Korea the political system had evolved in response to decades of foreign occupation and war. Though it was always assumed to be a Soviet satellite, North Korea more nearly bears comparison to Tito’s Yugoslavia. The North Koreans were always able to balance the tensions between the Soviets and the Chinese to their own advantage. During the period when the Comintern exercised most influence over national communist parties not a single Korean communist served in any capacity and the number of Soviet advisers in the north was never high.
Nineteen forty-nine marked a watershed year. The Chinese Communist Revolution, the Soviet Atomic Bomb, the massive reorganization of the National Security State in the U.S. all occurred that year. In 1950 Washington issued its famous National Security Paper-68 (NSC-68) which outlined the agenda for a global anti-communist campaign, requiring the tripling of the American defense budget. Congress balked at this all-encompassing blueprint when in the deathless words of Secretary of State Dean Acheson “Thank God! Korea came along.” Only months before Acheson had made a speech in which he pointedly omitted Korea from America’s “Defense perimeter.”
The Korean War seemed to vindicate everything written and said about “the international communist conspiracy”. In popular myth on June 25, 1950 the North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders. In fact the entire 38th Parallel had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949. On numerous occasions Syngman Rhee had to be restrained by American advisers from invading the north. The Korean civil war was all but inevitable. Given postwar American plans for access globally to resources, markets and cheaper labor power any form of national liberation, communist or liberal democratic, was to be opposed. Acheson and his second, Dean Rusk, told President Truman that “we must draw the line here!” Truman decided to request authorization for American intervention from the United Nations and bypassed Congress thereby leading to widespread opposition and, later, a return to Republican rule under Dwight Eisenhower.
Among the remaining mysteries of the UN decision to undertake the American led military effort to reject North Korea from the south was the USSR’s failure to make use of its veto in the Security Council. The Soviet ambassador was ostensibly boycotting the meetings in protest of the UN’s refusal to seat the Chinese communists as China’s official delegation. According to Bruce Cumings though, evidence exists that Stalin ordered the Soviet ambassador to abstain. Why? The UN resolution authorizing war could have been prevented. At that moment the Sino-Soviet split was already in evidence and Stalin may have wished to weaken China, something which actually happened as a result of that nation’s subsequent entry into the war. Or he may have wished that cloaking the UN mission under the U.S. flag would have revealed the UN to be largely under the control of the United States, which indeed it was. What is known is that Stalin refused to allow Soviet combat troops and reduced shipments of arms to Kim’s forces. Later, however Soviet pilots would engage Americans in the air. The Chinese were quick to condemn the UN action as “American imperialism” and warned of dire consequences if China itself were threatened.
The war went badly at first for the U.S. despite numerical advantages in forces. Rout after rout followed with the ROK in full retreat. Meanwhile tens of thousands of southern guerrillas who had originated in peoples’ committees fought the Americans and the ROK. At one point the North Koreans were in control of Seoul and seemed about to drive American forces into the sea. At that point the commander- in-chief of all UN forces, General Douglas MacArthur, announced that he saw unique opportunities for the deployment of atomic weapons. This call was taken up by many in Congress.
Truman was loathe to introduce nukes and instead authorized MacArthur to conduct the famous landings at Inchon in September 1950 with few losses by the Marine Corps vaunted 1st Division. This threw North Korean troops into disarray and MacArthur began pushing them back across the 38th Parallel, the mandate imposed by the UN resolution. But the State Department claimed that the border was not recognized under international law and therefore the UN mandate had no real legal bearing. It was this that MacArthur claimed gave him the right to take the war into the north. Though the North Koreans had suffered a resounding defeat in the south, they withdrew into northern mountain redoubts forcing the American forces that followed them into bloody and costly combat, leading Americans into a trap.
The Chinese had said from the beginning that any approach of foreign troops toward their border would result in “dire consequences.” Fearing an invasion of Manchuria to crush the nascent communist revolution the Chinese foreign minister, Zhou En-Lai declared that China “will not supinely tolerate seeing their neighbors invaded by the imperialists.” MacArthur sneered at this warning. “… They have no air force… if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be a great slaughter… we are the best.” He then ordered airstrikes to lay waste to thousands of square miles of northern Korea bordering China and ordered infantry divisions ever closer to its border.
It was the terrible devastation of this bombing campaign, worse than anything seen during World War II short of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that to this day dominates North Korea’s relations with the United States and drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat.
General Curtis Lemay directed this onslaught. It was he who had firebombed Tokyo in March 1945 saying it was “about time we stopped swatting at flies and gone after the manure pile.” It was he who later said that the US “ought to bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age.” Remarking about his desire to lay waste to North Korea he said “We burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea too.” Lemay was by no means exaggerating.
On November 27, 1950 hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops suddenly crossed the border into North Korea completely overwhelming US forces. Acheson said this was the “worst defeat of American forces since Bull Run.” One famous incident was the battle at the Chosin Reservoir, where 50,000 US marines were surrounded. As they escaped their enclosure they said they were “advancing to the rear” but in fact all American forces were being routed.
Panic took hold in Washington. Truman now said use of A-bombs was under “active consideration.” MacArthur demanded the bombs… As he put it in his memoirs:
I would have dropped between thirty and fifty atomic bombs… strung across the neck of Manchuria… and spread behind us – from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea- a belt of radioactive cobalt. It has an active life of between 60 and 120 years.
Cobalt it should be noted is at least 100 times more radioactive than uranium.
He also expressed a desire for chemicals and gas.
It is well known that MacArthur was fired for insubordination for publically announcing his desire to use nukes. Actually, Truman himself put the nukes at ready and threatened to use them if China launched air raids against American forces. But he did not want to put them under MacArthur’s command because he feared MacArthur would conduct a preemptive strike against China anyway.
By June 1951, one year after the beginning of the war, the communists had pushed UN forces back across the 38th parallel. Chinese ground forces might have been able to push the entire UN force off the peninsula entirely but that would not have negated US naval and air forces, and would have probably resulted in nuclear strikes against the Chinese mainland and that brought the real risk of Soviet entry and all out nuclear exchanges. So from this point on the war became one of attrition, much like the trench warfare of World War I. casualties continued to be high on both sides for the duration of the war which lasted until 1953 when an armistice without reunification was signed.
Of course the victims suffering worst were the civilians. In 1951 the U.S. initiated “Operation Strangle” which officials estimated killed at least 3 million people on both sides of the 38th parallel, but the figure is probably closer to 4 million. We do not know how many Chinese died – either solders or civilians killed in cross border bombings.
The question of whether the U.S. carried out germ warfare has been raised but has never been fully proved or disproved. The North accused the U.S. of dropping bombs laden with cholera, anthrax, plague, and encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever, all of which turned up among soldiers and civilians in the north. Some American prisoners of war confessed to such war crimes but these were dismissed as evidence of torture by North Korea on Americans. However, none of the U.S. POWs who did confess and were later repatriated were allowed to meet the press. A number of investigations were carried out by scientists from friendly western countries. One of the most prominent concluded the charges were true. At this time the US was engaged in top secret germ-warfare research with captured Nazi and Japanese germ warfare experts, and also experimenting with Sarin, despite its ban by the Geneva Convention. Washington accused the communists of introducing germ warfare.
Napalm was used extensively, completely and utterly destroying the northern capital of Pyongyang. By 1953 American pilots were returning to carriers and bases claiming there were no longer any significant targets in all of North Korea to bomb. In fact a very large percentage of the northern population was by then living in tunnels dug by hand underground. A British journalist wrote that the northern population was living “a troglodyte existence.” In the Spring of 1953 US warplanes hit five of the largest dams along the Yalu river completely inundating and killing Pyongyang’s harvest of rice. Air Force documents reveal calculated premeditation saying that “Attacks in May will be most effective psychologically because it was the end of the rice-transplanting season before the roots could become completely embedded.” Flash floods scooped out hundreds of square miles of vital food producing valleys and killed untold numbers of farmers.
At Nuremberg after WWII, Nazi officers who carried out similar attacks on the dikes of Holland, creating a mass famine in 1944, were tried as criminals and some were executed for their crimes.
So after a horrific war Korea returned to the status quo ante bellum in terms of political boundaries but it was completely devastated, especially the north.
I submit that it is the collective memory of all of what I’ve described that animates North Korea’s policies toward the US today which has nuclear weapons on constant alert and stations almost 30,000 forces at the ready. Remember, a state of war still exists and has since 1953.
While South Korea received heavy American investment in the industries fleeing the United States in search of cheaper labor and new markets it was nevertheless ruled until quite recently by military dictatorships scarcely different than those of the north. For its part the north constructed its economy along five-year plans and collectivized its agriculture. While it never enjoyed the sort of consumer society that now characterizes some of South Korea, its GDP grew substantially until the collapse of communism globally brought about the withdrawal of all foreign aid to north Korea.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, as some American policymakers took note of the north’s growing weakness Secretary of Defense Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz talked openly of using force finally to settle the question of Korean reunification and the claimed threat to international peace posed by North Korea.
In 1993 the Clinton Administration discovered that North Korea was constructing a nuclear processing plant and also developing medium range missiles. The Pentagon desired to destroy these facilities but that would mean wholesale war so the administration fostered an agreement whereby North Korea would stand down in return for the provision of oil and other economic aid. When in 2001, after the events of 9-11, the Bush II neo-conservatives militarized policy and declared North Korea to be an element of the “axis of evil.” All bets were now off. In that context North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, reasoning that nuclear weapons were the only way possible to prevent a full scale attack by the US in the future. Given a stark choice between another war with the US and all that would entail this decision seems hardly surprising. Under no circumstances could any westerner reasonably expect, after all the history I’ve described, that the North Korean regime would simply submit to any ultimatums by the US, by far the worst enemy Korea ever had measured by the damage inflicted on the entirety of the Korean peninsula.
(Acknowledgement to Bruce Cumings and I.F. Stone)
At least 126 people, including 68 children, were killed and dozens of others sustained injuries on bus attack which happened this last Saturday.
Little media attention has been given to the horrific attack which saw a bomber blow up an explosive-laden car, ripping through multiple buses carrying evacuees from Kefraya and Foua villages in Idlib, as they were waiting in al-Rashidin district to enter the city of Aleppo.
CNN reporter Nick Patton Walsh covered the attack, referring to the massive car bombing as a “hiccup”.
68 “beautiful babies” were murdered in this ISIS-Al Qaeda attack.
US President Trump has yet to issue a statement or call for a Tomahawk missile strike against the “moderate rebels”.
US/EU sanctions against ISIS-Al Qaeda sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have yet to be enforced.
Turkish authorities have detained a former official involved in a controversial 2014 search of Syria-bound trucks. While media reported the vehicles were full of ammunition, Ankara claimed they carried “aid for the Turkmen” and branded the search “treason.”
Former Prosecutor Yasar Kavalcioglu was detained after an ID check on a passenger bus in Istanbul early on Monday, according to Anadolu news agency. Kavalcioglu was put on search list for his role in the truck issue, the Daily Sabah notes.
In January 2014, when Gendarmerie intercepted trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), after prosecutors of the Adana province got a tip-off that the trucks were carrying weapons for rebel and terrorist groups in Syria.
The search exposed large amount of munitions under a thin layer of medical supplies in large containers marked ‘FRAGILE’. The discovery, however, led only to arrests of the officials involved in the search of the vehicles.
The truck incident got international attention in May 2015 when the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s website released footage allegedly showing the inspection. The MIT trucks had been carrying over 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launchers projectiles, the newspaper reported.
Turkish officials made quite contradictory statements after the paper’s report, either admitting or denying the weapons’ presence, denying the existence of the delivery altogether and eventually settling on the story that the convoy carried “aid destined for the Turkmen.”
In 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the trucks belonged to MIT, but were merely carrying “aid.” He added that the prosecutors had no right to search the vehicles, and accused them of “treason and espionage” and being part of a “parallel state” run by his political enemies, who are determined to discredit the government.
In the aftermath of the last year’s botched coup, the 2014 truck incident gained a new “understanding,” as a former top gendarmerie official openly branded it a “coup attempt that targeted our president” by followers of Erdogan’s rival, Fethullah Gulen, who later “attempted to turn into a plot inside gendarmerie.”
A week ago another prosecutor involved in the trucks case, Aziz Takci, who has been under arrest since 2015, faced up to 15 years in jail on charges of being a part of the Gulen movement, according to judicial sources, quoted by Turkish media.
The Airwars.org U.K.-based monitoring group reports that 41 U.S-led air strikes targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria killed at least 296 civilians during the week after the chemical weapons incident on April 4. U.S. cruise missiles reportedly killed another nine civilians in villages near the Shayrat airbase that was targeted on April 7th.
But the fragmentary reports compiled by Airwars.org can only reveal a fraction of the true numbers of civilians killed by U.S. and allied bombing in Iraq and Syria. These are only the minimum numbers of civilians killed in 41 of the 178 air strikes reported by the U.S military that week.
In other war zones, when such compilations of “passive” reports have been followed up by more comprehensive, scientific mortality studies, the true number of civilians killed has proved to be between 5 and 20 times higher than numbers previously reported by “passive” methods. [For a fuller discussion of the differences between passive reporting of civilian deaths and actual estimates based on scientific mortality studies, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Playing Games With War Deaths.”]
So, based on the fragmentary nature of passive reporting of civilian deaths and the ratios to actual deaths uncovered by more comprehensive studies in other war zones (such as Rwanda, Guatemala, D.R. Congo and U.S.-occupied Iraq), it is likely that U.S.-led air strikes killed at least 1,500 innocent civilians in just this one week, or conceivably as many as 6,000.
To put this scale of civilian deaths in the larger context of the U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria since 2014, the 589 bombs and missiles dropped in the week of April 4- 10 made this only an average week in a campaign that has been waged consistently at this intensity for more than two-and-a-half years.
Airwars has been investigating reports of civilian casualties caused by U.S. and “coalition” bombing since 2014. It has investigated U.S. or allied responsibility for incidents that have killed between 8,303 and 12,208 civilians, reported by local and international media and groups like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At this point, it has confirmed that 3,061 to 4,943 civilians have been killed in 1,197 U.S. or allied air strikes. Airwars classifies these deaths as “confirmed.”
Airwars classifies the reporting as “fair” for another 454 strikes that have killed between 2,635 and 4,192 civilians, based on reporting by two or more credible sources and confirmation that an alleged U.S. or allied air strike did take place. Airwars classifies the remaining reports of a further 2,607 to 3,093 civilians as either “fair, but with no confirmed strikes,” “weak,” “contested,” or “discounted.”
Applying the 5 to 20 percent ratio of passive reporting to actual deaths found in other war zones to Airwars’ minimum and maximum figures for “confirmed” and “fair” reports of civilian deaths, a reasonable estimate of total civilians killed by U.S. and allied bombing in Iraq and Syria since 2014 would be between 28,000 and 180,000.
We can hope that Airwars’ thorough investigations have already captured a higher proportion of civilian deaths than were counted by passive reporting in Guatemala (5 percent) or occupied Iraq (8 percent). This would mean that the true number of civilians we have killed is closer to the lower of these numbers than to the upper level.
But a similar effort by Iraqbodycount during the first three years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq only counted about one-twelfth of the violent civilian deaths subsequently revealed by a comprehensive mortality study of the same period, and we will only know for sure whether Airwars has been more successful once we can compare its figures with a comprehensive epidemiological mortality survey of the present conflict in Iraq and Syria.
Claims by U.S. officials that the true civilian death toll from the U.S. and allied bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria is in the hundreds, as opposed to the tens of thousands, have never been credible, as senior officers have occasionally admitted. The uncritical repetition of the U.S. military’s absurd claims by U.S. media as if they were credible estimates of civilian deaths is a journalistic scandal. This has only served to increase the near-total ignorance among much of the American public about the real human costs of the wars being waged in our name.
As with the reporting of domestic gun violence in the U.S., occasional reports of single acts of mass killing grab headlines, but give only a hint of the constant slaughter that rages on unreported, day in, day out, in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and across the ever-spreading area of the world being dragged into the bloodbath unleashed since 2001 by the U.S. “Global War on Terror.”
Nationalism, Ignorance and Consequences
There is another critical factor in the under-reporting of these constant, daily atrocities, one that has probably been a common pattern in every war ever fought. George Orwell described it very well in an essay entitled “Notes on Nationalism” that was published in May 1945, as the allies celebrated Germany’s surrender at the end of World War II.
“Actions are held to be good or bad,” Orwell wrote, “not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral color when it is committed by “our” side… The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”
Far from treating this prejudice as a problem to be overcome through public accountability and serious journalism, our current military and civilian leaders and their media mouthpieces treat this kind of nationalism as a weakness they can exploit to further suppress public awareness of their own atrocities.
Then, when a single horrific incident like the mass casualty air strike on West Mosul on March 17 breaks through this wall of silence into the public consciousness, the propaganda machine is quick to frame our killing of civilians as “unintentional” and contrast it with the “deliberate” killing of civilians by our enemies.
The eminent historian Howard Zinn pointed out the flaw in this frame of reference in a letter published in the New York Times in 2007, based partly on his own experience as a a U.S. Air Force bombardier in World War II:
“These words are misleading because they assume an action is either ‘deliberate’ or ‘unintentional.’ There is something in between, for which the word is ‘inevitable.’ If you engage in something like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not ‘intentional.’ Does that difference exonerate you morally?”
“The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent,” Howard Zinn concluded, “To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”
Chemical Weapons: Propaganda and History
The persistent role of chemical weapons in U.S. propaganda to justify attacks on Iraq and Syria turns on its head the way that Western powers actually used chemical weapons themselves in the past. During World War I, American factories produced 5,770 tons of chemical weapons for use by the U.S. and its allies on the Western Front, and this was only a small fraction of the weapons produced and used by the U.K., France and Germany.
This past weekend marks the centenary of the first time that chemical weapons were used in the Middle East, by British forces in the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, where they failed to dislodge the Ottoman defenders barring the British advance to Jerusalem and Damascus.
As British occupation forces faced a nationwide rebellion in Iraq in 1920, British leaders in London sent chemical weapons to Iraq, but historians disagree on whether they were actually used. British forces relied mainly on bombing, and fire-bombing in particular, to put down the rebellion and enforce British rule in Iraq. One of the British squadron leaders in Iraq, Arthur Harris, is better know to history as Air Marshall “Bomber” Harris, who ordered the fire-bombing of Dresden and other German cities in World War II.
Winston Churchill was a strong advocate for the use of chemical weapons. As War Minister during the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Versailles, he wrote in a memo to his staff:
“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favor of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”
At that time, the British Army’s Manual of Military Law stated explicitly that the laws of war applied only to war “between civilized nations” and “do not apply in wars with uncivilized States and tribes.” The United Nations Charter in 1945 and the revised Geneva Conventions in 1949 formally abolished such legal distinctions between wealthy Western nations and the rest of the world. But attitudes born of wealth, privilege and racism die hard, and the purpose of much of today’s Western propaganda is to convince the world of the moral superiority of our mass technological violence over the asymmetric warfare of our less wealthy and more lightly armed enemies.
As Howard Zinn concluded, these claims to moral superiority only serve to perpetuate a mutually-reinforcing cycle of violence and to foreclose any attempt to resolve any of these conflicts except through even greater violence.
The unwritten rule that our propaganda seeks to impose on the world is that the U.S. and its allies have the right to use unrestrained, unlimited violence at will, with total impunity, while any country or government that dares to oppose us forfeits any right to defend itself, to determine its own future, or even to exist.
After George W. Bush’s administration’s crimes alienated much of the world, President Obama conducted the next phase of this aggressive policy under cover of his iconic image as a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with roots in African-American and modern urban culture. This triumph of style over substance constituted a new achievement in neoliberal “managed democracy,” allowing him to carry out policies that were the polar opposite of what his supporters thought he stood for.
With Trump, the mask is off, and the world is suddenly faced with the unvarnished reality of an aggressive military power that accepts no legal constraints on its violence.
Justice for War Crimes
If we or our leaders ever seriously want to prevent war crimes and hold war criminals responsible, we must start with the basic principle of justice invoked by Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson at the London Conference that drew up the Nuremberg Principles in 1945. But this is a principle that Trump, Obama and other present-day U.S. leaders would find quite alien. Robert Jackson declared:
“If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”
When civilians in New York, Washington and on a plane flying over Pennsylvania became victims of an unprecedented crime of mass murder on Sept. 11, 2001, former Nuremberg chief investigator and prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz was a lonely voice invoking another basic principle of justice. Ferencz demanded genuine criminal accountability for the crimes committed, and insisted that only the guilty should be punished.
On Sept. 19, 2001, Ben Ferencz was interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR). “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done,” he told NPR’s Katy Clark, “If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.”
Clark asked him, “So what do you say to skeptics who believe the judicial process is inadequate because it is very slow and very cumbersome?”
“I realize that it is slow and cumbersome,” Ferencz replied, “but it is not inadequate. I say to the skeptics, ‘Follow your procedure and you’ll find what happens… We will have more fanatics and more zealots coming to kill the evil, the United States.’ We don’t want to do that. We want to uphold our principles. The United States was the moving party behind the Nuremberg Trials and behind insisting upon the rule of law.”
As Ben Ferencz predicted only a week after the 9/11 attacks, our failure to follow the “slow and cumbersome” path of justice and our resort to systematically indiscriminate and illegal threats and uses of force has left us trapped in a cycle of violence that has so far destroyed half a dozen countries and killed about 2 million people.
More are being killed every day, and our government has no mechanism or policy in place to prevent further, even unlimited escalation. Like a blinded and wounded giant, the U.S. lashes out at every perceived enemy on every pretext, falsely invoking laws, values and standards of accountability that our leaders doggedly refuse to apply to their own actions.
Our leaders effectively claim the sole power to define whose violence is justified and whose is criminal, and on a strictly self-serving basis. Our violence is always legitimate. Our enemies’ is always criminal. Noam Chomsky has referred to this as the “single standard” that governs U.S. foreign policy. It is more traditionally referred to as “might makes right,” or the “law of the jungle.” It bears no relation to the rule of law, except to violate, abuse, undermine and discredit it.
Back Through the Looking Glass
Through several administrations, across political parties, and with the active collaboration of the U.S. mass media, our leaders have replaced the rule of law with the rule of propaganda, treating flaws in our public debates like those exposed by Orwell and Zinn only as weaknesses to be exploited, instead of dangers to beware of. The vital principles of justice upheld by Robert Jackson, Ben Ferencz and the ghosts of Nuremberg are reduced to inconvenient obstacles to be marginalized by propaganda and flushed down the memory hole.
Political skill across the spectrum is now measured in the ability to “connect” with the public in a way that is completely divorced from the actual details or effects of government policy. U.S. politics has gradually been reduced to the corrupt circus of smoke and mirrors now personified by President Trump.
And yet we all have to live in the society that our political and economic systems create. The distractions of glitzy political campaigns and Hollywood fantasies can provide only superficial relief from the monopolization of our resources by an insatiably greedy ruling class; the resulting poverty of more and more working Americans; the systematic corruption of every institution of government and society by corporate power, or “inverted totalitarianism”; and the extreme violence of a foreign policy whose only response to the endless crises its militarism provokes is to threaten and then destroy yet another country and kill hundreds of thousands more innocent people.
It is becoming essential to our very survival that we find our way out of this self-destructive propaganda world, back through the looking glass to the real world: to the beautiful but fragile natural world in which we live; to the kaleidoscopic diversity of our fellow human beings and their societies; and to the serious problems we must all work together to resolve if any of what we each value in life is to survive, let alone thrive.
As our wars escalate in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, as U.S. warships bear down on Korea, and as our leaders issue new threats against Iran, Russia and China, we may have less time to save ourselves, each other and our world than we have previously assumed.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
English law courts allow for something called a private prosecution. Typically, criminals are prosecuted by the state body Crown Prosecution Services, but on some occasions private individuals can bring forward criminal charges against another person or entity they believe is guilty of a criminal offence.
Currently, there are attempts by private citizens to bring former British Prime Minister Tony Blair before a criminal court over alleged war crimes in Iraq which led to the slaughter of over a million Iraqis.
However, Britain’s current Attorney General Jeremy Wright is moving to stop such a prosecution.
Wright’s spokesman has stated,
“It’s not unusual for the attorney general to intervene in cases in order to represent the public interest. He has sought to intervene in this case because it raises important issues about the scope of the criminal law”.
There are several odd things about this statement.
First of all, if it raises the scope of criminal law, it means that the crime of stealing a car can be prosecuted and is in fact done so on a daily basis, but the far more violent act of war criminality cannot be.
Secondly, Wright implies that a private prosecution of Blair would not be in the public good. If holding leaders who engage in illegal warfare is not in the public good, I fail to see what is.
The real danger to the ruling elite is that English Common Law is based on precedent. This would mean that if Blair was convicted for war crimes, so too could many of his successors. This is a precedent that the elite clearly do not want to set due to the basic principle of self-preservation.
And then there is another problem. War criminality is not currently on the English statute books. It is an international offence that could only be applied in an international court.
As we all know, international justice for war criminals is exclusively reserved for Africans and Serbs. Tony Blair does not fit the racial profile.
RT | April 17, 2017
The war machine that is the United States of America, not content with threatening the world with its missile attack on a Syria airbase, not content with massing its forces around the Korean Peninsular and threatening to murder its leaders and massacre its people, not content with its escalating hostility towards Russia and China, decided the world needed one more demonstration of its power today, Thursday, April 13 by dropping its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an Afghanistan saturated with its bombs.
This demonstration, using a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Blast Bomb (MOAB), that the Americans like to call the ‘mother of all bombs,” weighing almost 22,000 pounds, was dropped from an American C130 transport plane. They claimed to be bombing an “ISIS” base and cave systems. The bomb is meant primarily to destroy large spatial areas but can also penetrate 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete before exploding and so destroy cave and bunker systems.
The news that ISIS is now in Afghanistan may surprise some. The US and others claim that elements of ISIS have “fled” into Afghanistan, from Iraq and Syria, and have clashed with American and allied Afghan forces there, as well as with the Taliban. Just as in Syria, the appearance of ISIS in a region often heralds an attack by America and its allies on the forces they want eliminated, in Syria, the government forces, or its occupation of the territory of a sovereign country it wants to break apart.
In Afghanistan it seems the Americans either need a force to counter the Taliban forces that have succeeded in gaining some legitimacy internationally or they are just relabeling Afghan resistance forces as ISIS to try to justify their claim that their world mission is to eliminate ISIS. One could think that instead of fleeing into Afghanistan, the ISIS units, if they are really going there, are not fleeing but being sent there by the nation that claims to hunt them. But we have to suspect that ISIS now fills in for “communist” in the new American order and wherever there is resistance to that order, then there is ISIS. How long will it be before they claim ISIS elements are operating in Russia and Iran and so the chase has to continue there as well?
Nevertheless this was the excuse the Americans have given for using the “mother of all bombs” for the first time in combat and it naturally draws the question; was this really just to hit a local guerrilla base or for something else, and I suggest it is something else, a demonstration to North Korea of the capacities of the US forces to destroy large areas and to penetrate bunker systems without using nuclear weapons. It was a warning; this is what is coming from the sky unless you obey our diktats to disarm so that you will be defenceless against us.
It was also a demonstration to the Russians, Pakistanis and Chinese that they ignore American interests in Afghanistan at their peril, as they conduct their peace talks initiative with India, Iran and Afghanistan. The Americans have no interest in the success of that initiative. They want control of Afghanistan and they have just shown, they think, that they are the big shots and they are going to use their big shot weapons to keep it.
The Russians are probably not impressed since they are reputed to have a bomb with four times the blast radius and twice the heat generated by the explosion of the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT- whereas the American device is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT- called the “Father Of All Bombs (FOAB). Still, to anyone experiencing it, the blast would be little different from a nuclear weapon. But the Russians don’t think that dropping these bombs on places to show how strong you are is any way to conduct diplomacy, whereas, for the Americans, threats and violence are diplomacy.
The media were very quick to spread the news of this demonstration, for after all it would serve no purpose to use this huge bomb on a few guerrillas in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, when ordinary mortars and artillery would do the job, unless the world is made to watch the demonstration. And so we have the Mirror in the UK stating,
“It’s a weapon that justifies the use of the word “terrifying” to describe its power and marks a deadly ramping up of America’s military initiative abroad.”
You have to admire the turn of phrase “military initiative abroad” used for “military aggression against the world.” These propagandists are well schooled.
“MOAB is thought to be the most fearsome explosive weapon in the Pentagon’s possession…”
Again, making sure that the reader has to reach for a tranquilizer to calm the nerves after being reduced to a quivering nervous wreck, cowering in fear beneath the shadow of the American flag.
The New York Times, BBC, and all the rest are duly impressed with the “shock” and the “awe” of it and think we should be too, and all the leaders of the nations of the world.
But if they think North Korea or Russia or China are trembling in their boots at the American power they are very mistaken. In fact this demonstration of their power is a demonstration of their fundamental weakness. This weapon is of no practical use in attacking any country with air defence systems since it has to be carried on a lumbering and slow C130 Hercules transport plane. To be able to use it would require escort planes so it could get close to the target and against any modern air defence system it the planes would be destroyed before the bomb could be used. We saw the American weakness again in the attack on Syria where less than half of the cruise missiles used reached the target. Whether this is due to electronic countermeasure used by the Russian air defence systems in Syria, which seems the most likely reason, or technical faults in these weapons is not yet clear. But losing over half your weapon systems in a few minutes before they even get near the target is not a show of strength but a revelation of the vulnerability of the American war machine.
Yet, the real tragedy of the American action is that it once again proves that the modern era is a wild and apparently aimless struggle between all that is noblest and all that is basest in our common humanity. International law is trampled under American army boots. The United Nations is reduced to a circus in which the Americans and British play destructive clowns. The governments of the NATO war alliance, by their support of the American actions, lies, threats and bullying, are members of a criminal conspiracy to rule the world through brute force. The western news media are reduced to propaganda units of the NATO military forces and the people in general have, through a constant barrage of false information, manipulation, fear, bigotry, and a general ignorance of history and other peoples, become willing dupes of this machine.
Here in Canada the government and press proclaim their slavering support for the American war crimes, and are glorifying the useless slaughter of the First World War as the nation’s “defining moment.” Not the linking of the nation from Atlantic to Pacific by a great railway built at great human cost, nor the defeat of the American invasion in 1812, nor the defeat of the fascists in 1945; no, for they have become the fascists and relish the symbols of death, of slaughter, and all but worship war as our destiny and the death of others as a beautiful thing.
Frankly, I am tired of the debate whether Trump, the new Duce, has “sold out” or been compromised by the war faction in the United States. I think it was clear from the beginning that he would be as destructive as the rest of their leaders. Does it really matter any longer what leader is in charge of the United States? Has there even been a president dedicated to living in peace with the world since that country was founded? Not one. It is long past time to ask why this or that American regime wants war here, there and everywhere. The problem lies much deeper in the American psychology; for we can say that nations have a psychology, a manner of general behaviour and thinking, arising from their history and culture. I will leave that for political philosophers, sociologists and psychologists to examine but the existential fact is the world is faced with a threat to its survival and that threat is the United States of America.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events.
The refusal of the United Nations to qualify the recent US airstrike against Syria as an act of aggression makes the Organization irrelevant – something Russia has been trying to prevent. It has become vulnerable to scathing criticism after demonstrating its impotence and inability to act. The continued paralysis is an eloquent example of the UN’s disengagement and lack of political will to fulfill its duty. The Organization’s image has suffered great damage. It still has a chance to rectify it by launching an investigation into what really happened in Syria.
Article One of the UN Charter states that one of the purposes is «To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace». It also mentions «adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace».
The April 7 attack on Syria is no doubt an act of aggression against a sovereign state. There is nothing to support the US accusations against the Syrian government. No evidence to go upon has been presented. If it were, it would still be no reason to use force. Neither the UN Charter nor any other international document envisages the right of US president to strike other countries at his discretion, even if they are suspected of possessing and using chemical weapons (CW).
The US has a long record of trampling on international law under the pretext of conducting military operations for «humanitarian reasons» or to protect «democracy».
The UK and several other Western countries rushed to support the action. No wonder! If they had the capability, they would have done the same thing. The prospects for being left without the US «nuclear umbrella» made them really scared after Donald Trump was elected. Now they are happy that the 45th president has failed to keep his promises. Their support for the US action is understandable and was expected. But what about the United Nations?
The Secretariat of the UN has shied away from taking a position. Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, emphasized that neither the CW attack in Idlib nor the following US airstrikes influenced the UN stance. According to him, «For us, we would reiterate the importance of the process going on in Geneva, which, obviously, one of the issues on the agenda is transition. What is important is that the future leadership of Syria be decided by the Syrian people themselves, as we have said since the beginning of this crisis. And, again, I think we would call on all the parties to recommit themselves to the Geneva process and the political discussions going on in Geneva».
Asked about the statement made by Nikki Haily, the US Ambassador to the UN, about the loss of legitimacy by Syrian President Assad after the chemical attack, he said «the future leadership of the Syrian… of Syria should be decided by the Syrian people themselves». At least, the official admits that it’s the people who should rule the country, not the leaders of other states who order to strike Syria with cruise missiles!
On the other hand, the refusal to condemn the United States for its attack in Syria makes the law a sham. The strongest is always right! The UN turns a blind eye on violations and crimes.
There is another aspect of the problem that is important to draw attention on. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said Syria has no CW. In 2013, the elimination of CW in Syria was an OPCW-UN joint mission. Is the organization operating under the auspices of the United Nations not trustworthy? If it is, why not wait for its results of its investigation? Thus, the very affirmation that the Syrian government has CW is a severe blow against the OPCW and the UN.
So, the stance taken by the UN Secretariat actually diminishes the UN influence on international affairs. The UN refuses to comply with the provisions of its own Charter!
What’s wrong with Russia’s calls for broader UN role? Moscow says important decisions related to international security must be taken collectively and after detailed consultations in the UN. Should this position be resisted? Is it reprehensible to insist on thorough investigation of CW attack in Idlib before discussing the issue and taking decisions on what to do about it? Is it right to forget the lesson learnt in Iraq when no weapons of mass destruction were found to justify the invasion with terrible repercussions to follow, including the emergence of the IS?
An investigation would meet the interests of all. That’s what UN officials should be talking about instead of repeating the mantra of the Geneva negotiations having a chance to make progress. Turgid words to make a hollow statement.
A CW attack is a serious crime against humanity. The culprits must face justice. So is the US attack against a UN member state. At least, it must be discussed within the framework of the United Nations. The US could veto any decisions but the world has the right to know.
With all the tensions running high and global security threated, the time is propitious for the UN to start fulfilling its duties and abide by its obligations. The world needs deeds, not empty words.
Foreign Ministers, Sergei Lavrov (C) of Russia, Walid al-Muallem (L) of Syria and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran attend a news conference in Moscow © Grigory Sisoev / Sputnik
The US cruise missile attack on Syria was an act of international aggression, Russia, Syria and Iran have stated after a meeting of their foreign ministers in Moscow.
“We have reiterated our position and were united in stating that the attack was an act of aggression, which blatantly violated the principles of international law and the UN Charter,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“We call on the US and its allies to respect Syria’s sovereignty and refrain from actions similar to what happened on April 7, and which have serious ramification not only for regional, but also global security,” he added.
Lavrov was referring to the Tomahawk missile barrage fired by the US Navy at a Syrian airbase in Homs province. Washington ordered the attack after accusing Damascus of launching a chemical weapons attack at a rebel-held town in Idlib province from that airbase. Russia condemned the move, saying the US hadn’t offered any proof to pin the alleged chemical weapons incident on the Syrian Army.
Meeting with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts, Javad Zarif and Walid Muallem, on Friday, Lavrov pledged to continue Russia’s support of Damascus in fighting terrorism and restoring peace in Syria.
He added that Moscow suspects that the Idlib incident was a provocative act aimed at derailing negotiations between the Syrian government and so-called moderate rebel groups on a political transition in the country. Lavrov said the perpetrators of the deadly release of toxins must be found.
“We insist on a thorough, objective and unbiased investigation of the circumstance of the use of chemical substances in Khan Shaykhun on April 4,” he said, adding that the investigating team must include inspectors chosen from nations from different parts of the world to ensure its objectivity.
Muallem pledged full cooperation of Damascus in carrying out such a probe.
The Russian minister added that Moscow doubts the objectivity of the current mechanisms for investigating alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, considering the difference in how the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) handles reports by Damascus and by other parties.
“When accusations come against the Syrian government, the OPCW reacts in a matter of days and voices its concern. But they never go on the sites of incidents located in the regions controlled by the armed opposition, citing security issues,” he said. “We consider such analysis from a distance unacceptable.”
Lavrov also accused the US of reviving the Obama administration goal of toppling the Syrian government instead of seeking a political solution, citing the Tomahawk missile attack.
“Such acts of aggression are obviously meant to derail the peace process, which was endorsed in a unanimously adopted resolution of the UN Security Council and implies that the fate of Syria would be decided only by the Syrian people,” he said. “The action was obviously deviating from this basic concept and find new protects to aim for regime change.”
Lavrov said there is an increasing amount of evidence pointing to the conclusion that the chemical incident in Idlib province was staged to set up the Syrian government.
“Publications by professional experts, including some in the US and Britain, say there are too many inconsistencies and gaps in the version of events presented to justify the [US] aggression,” he said.
Zarif accused “certain countries” of hypocrisy, citing Iran’s history of suffering from chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the 1980s war. Declassified CIA files showed that the US was well aware that Saddam was using CWs against Iranians, but didn’t oppose it and even provided intelligence for such attacks.
The US attack against a Syrian military airfield launched by President Donald Trump late last Thursday triggered criticism among such French presidential hopefuls as National Front (FN) party leader Marine Le Pen, leader of left-wing political movement Unsubmissive France Jean-Luc Melenchon and the president of Gaullist Arise France party Dupont-Aignan. Socialist Hamon and independent candidate Macron, on the other hand, have expressed their support for the US president’s action.
“Having criticized Trump before and after the election, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [French President Francois] Hollande have approved of this attack, which is [Trump’s] most serious and most dangerous decision on the global scale. They have shown themselves to be completely irresponsible. The same applies to certain candidates at French presidential elections, like Hamon and Macron, the two former ministers of the socialist president. Their reaction is enough to disqualify them from assuming the office they seek, I believe,” Eric Anceau said.
Following the missile strikes, which killed seven people, according to the governor of Syria’s Homs province, Hollande in a joint statement with Merkel placed the blame for the latest developments in Syria on its President Bashar Assad, albeit without providing any evidence of his involvement in the attack.
According to Anceau, Trump’s hasty reaction to the chemical weapons incident is undoubtedly the most dangerous decision he has made since assuming office.
“When one is the head of the most powerful state in the world, one does not make decisions based on emotions, as he admitted to have done after having seen on TV all these dead bodies of children,” he said, adding that the Trump administration should have consulted the US Congress first.
“In his haste, he circumvented the US Congress, which, incidentally, says a lot about the state of the US democracy in particular and our democracies in general,” the spokesman added.
He underlined that unless the strike had an ulterior motive, such as “a desire to affirm one’s power” in regions where other world powers like Russia or Iran are present, Trump’s decision to strike Syria lacks logic.
Following the strikes, Dupont-Aignan, who according to recent polls enjoys support of some 3 percent of French voters, told the French daily Le Monde that the international community had no proof Assad ordered the chemical attack, and because of this, Trump had no reason to order the strike. At the same time, he pointed out that he would back a UN-led intervention in Syria if it is proved that the Syrian government was indeed responsible for the Idlib tragedy.
The Syrian government denied having chemical weapons, as it agreed for its entire stockpile to be destroyed under a 2013 US-Russian deal. The Organization for the Protection of Chemical Weapons confirmed in January 2016 that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal was destroyed.