A Canadian soldier with mustard gas burns, ca....
A Canadian soldier with mustard gas burns, ca. 1917-1918. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the history is so clear, why is the mass media wasting so much time on Syria and their poison gases?

First consider the history. Check out Chemical warfare in Wikipedia, and consider this excerpt.

The Hague Declaration of 1899 and the Hague Convention of 1907 forbade the use of “poison or poisoned weapons” in warfare, yet more than 124,000 tons of gas were produced by the end of World War I. The French were the first to use chemical weapons during the First World War, using the tear gases, ethyl bromoacetate and chloroacetone. (continued here)

The French broke the treaty? Our erstwhile allies? The ones who want us to punish Syria? In response, the Germans eventually upped the ante. They used chlorine gas.

Here is another encyclopedia’s observation. It explains why Germans usually get the credit for first using poison gases.

Chemical weapons did not become true weapons of mass destruction (WMD) until they were introduced in their modern form in World War I (1914–18). The German army initiated modern chemical warfare by launching a chlorine attack at Ypres, Belgium, on April 22, 1915, killing 5,000 French and Algerian troops and momentarily breaching their lines of defense. German use of gas and mustard was soon countered by similar tactics from the Allies. By war’s end, both sides had used massive quantities of chemical weapons, causing an estimated 1,300,000 casualties, including 91,000 fatalities. The Russian army suffered about 500,000 of these casualties, and the British had 180,000 wounded or killed by chemical arms. One-third of all U.S. casualties in World War I were from mustard and other chemical gases, roughly the ratio for all participants combined. By the war’s end, all the great powers involved had developed not only offensive chemical arms but also crude gas masks and protective overgarments to defend themselves against chemical weapon attacks. Altogether, the warring states employed more than two dozen different chemical agents during World War I, including mustard gas, which caused perhaps as many as 90 percent of all chemical casualties (though very few of these casualties were fatal) from that conflict. (from here)

I was mildly surprised by the assertion the French were the first to use gas warfare, but I confirm it here and here.

How come the widespread use of poison gas was not repeated in World War II? Did men suddenly become more noble? No. Consider this excerpt.

Recovered Nazi documents suggest that German intelligence incorrectly thought that the Allies also knew of these compounds, interpreting their lack of mention in the Allies’ scientific journals as evidence that information about them was being suppressed. Germany ultimately decided not to use the new nerve agents, fearing a potentially devastating Allied retaliatory nerve agent deployment. Fisk, Robert (December 30, 2000), “Poison gas from Germany”, Independent. (continued here)

Some other reasons have been offered. Poison gas is scary (here). Poison gas is ineffective (here and here).

Why would poison gas have been ineffective? If the other side has poison gas, what is the point of giving the other side a good reason to use it on you?

And yes, we did have chemical weapons.  See here and here.

So what is the point of these observations? Lobbing a few cruise missiles against Syria is worse than useless.

  • We risk killing innocents.
  • We will not get rid of any WMD stockpiles, but we will make people angry at us.
  • We will strengthen the Islamists, people who actively hate us. Whereas the current regime in Syria just considers us pests.

In warfare, when national survival is at stake, international agreements mean nothing to politicians. Moreover, nations do not have friends; they have interests. Is that not what we are seeing in Syria? Otherwise, why don’t we have lots of enthusiastic support for punishing whoever it is that used poison gas in Syria?

If we don’t want others using weapons of mass destruction against us, we must render their use ineffective. We must make certain we can and will punish anyone who uses or threatens to use such weapons against us. That would include the Islamists, but it does not yet include the current regime running Syria. If we start lobbing cruise missiles into Syria, however…….

Now consider that the corporate news media are mostly Democrats, and they love President Obama. While we muse upon this phony crisis, consider what the mass media is not covering:

  • How much we hate Obamacare. It’s not defunded yet.
  • How much money Congress and the president are wasting. Have we forgotten Federal spending is still out of control?
  • The fact that all Obama administration’s scandals are receding further into the past and the RINOs in Congress have done zilch.
  • The Obama administration abusing its authority to issue executive orders. For example, the Obama administration is granting more and more illegal immigrants permission to stay in the United States.
  • The Obama administration is not enforcing the nation’s laws. For example, we have that unenforced Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Our election in Virginia. Less coverage of that election — less study of candidates by the electorate — makes spinning lies about the Republican candidates so much easier.
  • And so forth.


  1. Citizen Tom.. Well it appears that god looked over the shoulders of more Obama voters than McCain voters and that is why he is President and McCain is still beating the war drums along with Obama. God appears to be a rather fickle guide when it comes to voting.


    1. God is fickle? When a man calls his Creator fickle, how ridiculous!

      If we want wisdom, we must ask for it from God, we must seek it from God, and we must accept it from God. Otherwise, we will do what seems right in our own eyes.

      Proverbs 2:1-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
      The Value of Wisdom

      1 My son, if you receive my words
      and treasure up my commandments with you,
      2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
      and inclining your heart to understanding;
      3 yes, if you call out for insight
      and raise your voice for understanding,
      4 if you seek it like silver
      and search for it as for hidden treasures,
      5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
      and find the knowledge of God.
      6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
      from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
      7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
      he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
      8 guarding the paths of justice
      and watching over the way of his saints.


  2. Tom… technical question. As you can see from our correspondence I am no supporter of Obama which leads me to ask you how, in good faith , can you question my view of Reagan whilst you go into a litany of Obama complaints. Is Reagan “godlike” and Obama “devil like”. I tend to feel that both are con artists posing as presidential and not particularly interested in the common good.


    1. I will not be drawn into an argument over whether Reagan was a good president. He is dead, and his record speaks for itself.

      I don’t oppose Obama personally. I oppose his policies. I oppose the fact the man pays so little attention to his obligations under our Constitution.

      Unfortunately, we elected the man. Without supporters, Obama would not be president, the Congress that passed Obamacare would not have been elected, and the Supreme Court that approved Obamacare would not have been appointed. Since the problem lies in us, I do not regard the castigation of Obama as profitable. What I want people to understand is we must vote as if God is looking over our shoulder. If when we vote we do not take each others God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into consideration, we will vote wrongly. We will elect politicians who at our nation’s expense seek their own personal gain.


  3. Tom.. I can agree with that except for the “god given right’. I think the founders of this country had a pretty clear picture of the damage that a religious (god) politic could do to a free people. King George V was the embodiment of “gods” will in his rule over the colonists and it didn’t sit too well with them. That is why our country was the leader in separating church and state. That has served us well for over 200 years and is only now being threatened again by those who wish to bring “god” back into the picture
    I am with you on the idea that the citizenry must reassert our control over those we elect., but it must be done not from an ideological viewpoint but from a constitutional rule of law view. We have had a series of very bad rulers starting with Reagan who have flummoxed our citizens.It must stop.


    1. Billbo – Reagan was a bad ruler? 🙄 Instead of condemning various personalities, could you debate ideas?

      Haven’t you read the Declaration of Independence? Because of their religious beliefs, the founders insisted upon limiting the powers of the Federal Government.

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

      Have you considered what the founders meant by the pursuit of happiness? Most think that phrase is about property rights. WRONG! Many of the founders were classically educated. They were familiar with the works of Aristotle. They knew that the Pursuit of Happiness involves more than just the right to own property; it also involves freedom of religion — freedom of conscience.

      Because it discusses this subject in more detail, you may find this post of interest.


  4. Tom. Unfortunately this is where we part ways. Your ideology does not allow you to see that the Bush league started this whole decline in domestic and international civility and that O. has just continued what they started.
    Sad for our country. A blind right and a careerist center.


    1. Is Obama’s conduct is Bush’s fault? What is “A blind right and a careerist center.”?

      Was I happy with everything the Bush administration did? No, and if you are interested in researching my blog, you can verify that for yourself. Nonetheless, fixing blame does not fix problems. First we have to understand the problem. Then we have to agree upon an appropriate solution. Finally, we have to elect leaders committed to implementing that solution.

      When our nation was formed, our people understood the problem as protecting the God-given rights of all men. As their solution, the approved the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, we no longer elect people committed to supporting and defending that document. And what does that have to do with Bush or Obama? Not much. They did not elect themselves. We elected them.


  5. Tom.. I agree completely with your very logical conclusion. The lack of facts, the lack of domestic and international support, the illegality of the entire intervention initiative makes this possibility a threat to our country’s constitution and our international reputation (which is bad enough as it is) .
    But I do sincerely think that your use of the term “distraction” in order to ‘set up’ your last paragraph as an anti Obama tirade, is rather myopic. As Obama goes ahead with this initiative he should be attacked directly as a war criminal along with Bush, Cheney, et al who have weakened our rule of law, destroyed our economy, our International legitimacy, and all for oil and sundry other false reasons.


    1. What Bush and Cheney have to do with Obama’s “red line” escapes me. In spite of what the Constitution says quite clearly, Obama still says he can start his stupid war without Congressional authorization. Since that man has shown so little respect for the rule of law, no American had any excuse for voting for him in the last election. As it is, we are just getting what we voted for, as much respect for the law as the people we have elected give for the oath they take.

      You don’t like the term “distraction”? You call what I said a tirade? Actually, that “tirade” is a list of facts, and I would much prefer that our nation discuss that list of facts. Hence, I consider Obama’s absurd “plan” to intervene in Syria an unwelcome distraction.

      Your mention of Bush’s and Cheney’s supposed reason for intervening in Iraq is sort of comical. Since I cannot read minds, I don’t know what is motivating Obama. I just know the reasons he has given are wholly insufficient, but others have their theories.


  6. Tom.. I am an ordinary citizen also. Maybe even more ordinary than you. I am a US Army Air Corps veteran of WWII. After the war I found that my Aunt and two young nephews were murdered in Auschwitz by the German use of gas. The horror! I do not find the use of gas to murder people a “distraction”. anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Your column was was very informational and helpful in learning about the history of gas use in mass murder but your last paragraph seemed to be a pivot into a fantasy world that bore absolutely no relationship to your column.


    1. billbo – Thank you for visiting and offering a comment. I am pleased you found the information useful. I don’t know what to say about your connection with Auschwitz. Is there more to be said about the depravity of man? I suppose so, but I will leave the subject to others.

      Except with respect to how many people murderers can kill and how how they can make their victims suffer, how a murderer kills does not matter much. As far as their loved ones are concerned, the dead have departed this life prematurely. Since poison gases can kill lots of people and those killed with such weapons can die quite painfully, the use of poison weapons draws our attention. Nonetheless, the mere fact that the use of poison gases draws our attention does not mean that time spent on the subject will be well spent.

      Because we are finite creatures with a finite resources, we must prioritized our time and resources. To say the conflict in Syria is none of our business would be an overstatement. Unfortunately, we do not have the time, resources, or the right to be the world’s policeman. When our people volunteer to serve in our armed forces, they sign up to protect the United States. Intervention in Syria would jeopardize American security. Because it would threaten the interests of other major powers, not just Syria, intervention would put our nation at greater risk. Moreover, unless we put troops on the ground (which would be a thoroughly stupid idea), we have no way of furthering a positive change in Syria. Thus, I stand by the assertion that the issue merely serves as a distraction from subjects far more deserving of our time and energy.

      Sometimes all we can do is watch and wait.


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