Journalist Steve Lowe explains how chemical weapons are only deemed “evil” by the West when they are in the “wrong” hands.
Amidst the tension and hyperbole around whether we should set about bombing another country in the Middle East, it has been interesting to see what Americans, and the American press, are saying.
Not known for being over-critical many are reporting that America has to what America has to do, and not standing for global injustice is what makes them American. That and being the world’s greatest hypocrites.
Using chemical weapons is an outrage, unless of course delivered by the USA.
Still people are dying in Nha Trang, Vietnam, through Agent Orange, a chemical weapon which contains dioxin, the most poisonous chemical known. No apology, or even acknowledgement of the harm done, and being done, by the USA.
And more recently, white phosphorus – a chemical that burns fiercely, cannot be easily extinguished, and melts the skin – was used in Iraq by the Allied forces against both insurgents and civilians.
British minister Michael Gove was very upset at losing the vote in the Commons to bomb Syria, mainly because of children being killed in that country by chemical weapons. I may be unfair to him but I do not remember such emotion each time an American drone has killed children in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Yemen.
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These of course are facts, unlike the news that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons. But we know they are, a government minister told us, because “our intelligence forces have the evidence”. Just like those weapons of mass destruction then. It is not unheard of for governments to lie to their people when they want to go to war.
And it is not unknown for governments to dress up their own self interest as though they are behaving honourably. When South Africa was brutalising its people, neither the USA or the UK would even countenance sanctions.
And, of course, Israel can behave as badly as it likes, and break as many UN sanctions as it likes, and all it gets is more money and more weapons.
There is no doubt that the people of Syria, like many other countries in the Middle East of recent years, are suffering terribly. There is also no doubt that the West, and indeed recently other super-powers, are at least partly to blame.
There is also the strong possibility that any military action will make matters worse, even though it may make a few politicians briefly feel good about themselves.
With regard to Somalia, Africa is itself clearing up the mess, after the USA and the UN had failed spectacularly. Perhaps it would make more sense to involve the rest of the Middle East in the solution, and the policing of the area. There’s a radical thought.
Steve Lowe is the Group Editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday, Burton Mail, Staffordshire News, Luton on Sunday and MK News.