Why We’re Outraged by Poison Gas

I wrote this article back in 2013, when chemical weapons were used in Syria (a “red line” for Barack Obama, who was then the U.S. president). Five years later, chemical weapons have been used yet again, though it’s unknown whether it was on Bashar al-Assad’s orders. Any U.S. retaliatory strike should answer at least these four questions before going forward: 1) Who exactly was responsible for this chemical attack? 2) How will a U.S. military attack solve anything? 3) What vital U.S. interest is at stake here? 4) How will killing Syrian people with U.S. missiles or bombs serve any just cause?

Yet another U.S. military strike against a Middle Eastern country may make a few U.S. chickenhawks feel tough, but the risk of innocents being killed and yet more violence being spread in Syria and throughout the region outweigh the benefits. What are those “benefits,” exactly? Assuming Assad ordered the chemical attack, is he really going to be deterred by yet another U.S. missile strike?

Poison gas attacks are abhorrent, but so too is a rush to judgment. More U.S. bombs and missiles that only kill more people is not the answer here.

Bracing Views

Zyklon-B stockpile used by the Nazis in World War II (Image: USHMM) Zyklon-B stockpile used by the Nazis in World War II (Image: USHMM)

W.J. Astore

A good friend of mine wrote to me about chemical weapons/poison gas in World War I, and it got me to thinking about why we’re so outraged by the recent use of poison gas in Syria.

When you think about it (and who really wants to), there are so many bloody and awful ways to die in war.  Besides the usual bullets and bombs, the U.S. has used depleted uranium shells, white phosphorous, and cluster munitions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Why, then, the outrage over gas?  And why was it banned after World War I?

I think it was because chemical weapons/poison gas proved both indecisive and inglorious.  If chemical weapons had produced decision on the battlefield, they would have been retained, despite their inglorious and wretched effects.  But their military utility proved limited…

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21 thoughts on “Why We’re Outraged by Poison Gas

  1. There seems to be one sane voice concerning Syria, but you have to travel across the Atlantic to Britain to find it.

    Denouncing Rush to War, Corbyn Calls for Peace Talks and ‘Withdrawal of All Foreign Forces’ From Syria
    “The government appears to be waiting for instructions from President Donald Trump on how to proceed. But the U.S. administration is giving alarmingly contradictory signals.”
    “Further U.K. military intervention in Syria’s appalling multi-sided war risks escalating an already devastating conflict.”
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/13/denouncing-rush-war-corbyn-calls-peace-talks-and-withdrawal-all-foreign-forces-syria

    From another Web Site: The democratic conception of the free press centers on it’s being a so-called “fourth estate,” independent from and skeptical toward the claims of the political establishment. But in the frenzied war fever, the distinction between journalism and state propaganda has been obliterated.

    While journalism seeks to question and probe, propaganda seeks to sensationalize, simplify and incite. Journalism sees all claims as suspect; propaganda treats the statements of the government as sacrosanct and everything else as lies.
    ========================================================================
    Here in the USA there is no serious debate on should we strike Syria in politics or in our McMega-Media and the serious ramifications of doing so. I was taught years ago about the “decision tree”, that is how one decision can branch off. Untended consequences of that decision can lead to multiple branches and cascading events that cannot controlled. Given the intellectual make-up (no pun intended) of The Trumpet (Aka Agent Orange), it is doubtful if The Trumpet can envision any result other than what he wants.

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  2. I think there’s something even deeper at play: gas is what we use to indiscriminately kill living things that get in our way. For one person to kill another on command, you usually have to train them extensively and pair that training with some aspect of soldier/warrior ethos, so they feel *right* is on their side when they unleash death.

    Without that myth of there being some nobility (or at least, necessity) to the struggle, all you have is a bunch of animals slaughtering one another by the orders of unseen superiors – generals, dictators, presidents. Eventually, under those conditions, people start actively avoiding the fight. Not many people enjoy being cogs in a machine.

    Ultimately, this means that use of gas after WWI has always been tied to mass punishment of people who have been effectively dehumanized. Colonial subjects. Holocaust victims. Or, we pretend the use of poison is different because it targets other non-human things, like trees (Agent Orange) or is supposedly only for ‘illumination’. And tear gas or pepper spray, of course, gets used on pesky protesters who dare to oppose their regime. Powers-that-be solve the problem of indiscriminate use by casting the victims as sub-human.

    Chemical warfare is fundamentally dehumanizing and indiscriminate, and the best soldiers have always wanted to control its use. But, of course, there’s that niggling issue about who gets to be treated as a human in today’s world. Iraq, with the assistance of the West, used gas on thousands of Iranian soldiers and civilians in the 1980s. Nobody bombed Iraq in response. Our leaders’ invocation of the taboo against chemical warfare is totally situational.

    Which is why threatening Syria right now is futile, despite being morally justified. The chemical weapons taboo is dead. All that is left is outrage that cynical leaders use to do the dangerous stuff they think is in their own interest. And it isn’t like flinging more cruise missiles will actually have a long term effect on Assad anyway: aerial attacks are ineffective without nearby ground forces identifying targets. And chemical weapons are wicked easy to hide and disperse.

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    1. Good points. Think here of Zyklon-B, marketed as an insecticide but used by the Nazis at Auschwitz to kill a million people. Gas is often what we use to kill bugs. Pests. Inferior species. “Lesser” humans, in the case of the Nazis.

      As you say, dehumanizing and indiscriminate.

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  3. This gasing is a ruse by UK to continue the war in Syria not allowing peace…Syrian gov did not gas their people….terror group is doing this nonsense false gas accusation and you know it!!!

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    1. Right on, Fran. Thanks for cutting through the Orwellian bullshit to the heart of the matter.

      Anyone who actually wants to know what has or hasn’t happened in the Middle East since 1948 can easily find out by doing a little independent surfing across the Internet. It can also help just doing a little logical thinking or reflecting upon decades of similar, highly choreographed eruptions of “outrage” as a threadbare cover for yet another military attack upon some poor country that won’t lick America’s bloodstained boots.

      Considering only the past few instances of such trumped-up (no pun intended) theatrical travesties, not only does the “terror group” you mention regularly and predictably stage false-flag “chemical” or “gas” events for propaganda purposes (target audience principally located in the United States ) but they even got an Academy Award last year for their performances. Irony doesn’t get any more bitter than that. “White Helmets,” my aching ass. Why don’t they just wear white hats and Lone Ranger masks and really get into the spirit of the genre? Perhaps they could recruit another fifteen-year-old girl, like that daughter of the former Kuwaiti ambassador, to publicly whimper and weep for the cameras about those “incubator babies” whom president George H. W. Bush eulogized as an excuse to launch his attack upon both the Vietnam Syndrome and Iraqi oil reserves (code named, “Saddam Hussein”) at the end of his presidency in 1991. This sloppy shit goes so far back in time that it has all started to sound like “Bay of Pigs” and “Gulf of Tonkin” and “WMD.” Pretty soon we may even hear of “smoking guns” that look like “mushroom clouds” while Colin Powell appears alongside Nikki Haley at the UN to lend “gravitas” and “credibility” to her slanderous, vitriolic insults and threats.

      And now, for the second time in just two years, the little orange boy in the White House has started crying “WOLF!” … “WOLF!” because he has seen the so-called “adults” in the American village run around like chickens with their heads chopped off every time that other little boy presidents have shouted that same single syllable. How amusing! But we all ought to know how this little fable works out when a really hungry wolf comes sniffing around for a quick little meal.

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  4. I’m still trying to put together (Bravo! 1st 3 comments!), to look beneath the ‘surface’. Poison weapons is not new to Western Warfare: they’ve used at whim in losing wars for centuries in one way or another. The British Empire fell apart, both economically & morally, using them.
    Fast forward today: America’s dream of World Domination is cracking, no falling, apart.
    Let’s go through it, step by step.
    1. I dare not discuss what I believe of “Sept. 11!” Horrors! Etc…..
    2. Invasion of Afghanistan to “FIND!” Osama bin Laden, this brilliant engineer living in a cave that caused 2 huge towers to dissolve into their own footprints, so not to disturb Banksters offices nearby.
    3. Somehow this tragedy had something to do with Iraq, sanctioned & starved after ‘Desert Storm’.
    4. We know the rest: destroyed a country who some say “Had better gay bars under Hussein than Bremer” – making a point.
    5. The failures in Libya! A rich country wrecked with Nato bombing. Yet no decent OIL contracts! JERKS! Thank God!
    6. Obviously all failures, AH! Syria is the problem!
    Here’s the West’s last chance after so many disasters! Soooo, “chemical weapons” forgetting about what the West did to infrastructure in those countries!
    7. America’s infrastructure is falling apart due to these colossal mistakes.
    8. The so-called “Chemical Attack” is a fraud perpetuated by the M/I/C!

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  5. First, I wish to state that I refuse to feel the slightest bit “outraged” simply because someone else wishes for me to feel that way; especially when I consider who wishes for me to feel “outraged” and why. Furthermore, I most emphatically wish to distance myself from any crowds (numbering three or more persons) feeling all-outraged-and-stuff about anything whatsoever, at any time, or for any reason. I have never found outraged persons particularly good or well-informed company, quite the opposite. As James Alexander wrote in his book, Thought-Control in Everyday Life (1928):

    “The word “crowd,” as used [here], means a collective body of men or women – people gathered together for some purpose in common.”

    “For the average man — the man with neither knowledge of Crowd Psychology, nor training in thought control — one of the most difficult things in the world is to control his thoughts when he is a member of a crowd. For the crowd, no matter what its constitution may be, whether made up of men of good birth and education, or men with neither of these advangages, ranks as the lowest form of human association” [emphasis added].

    The crowd is a collective mind with little intelligence, and is largely dominated by its instincts and emotions [emphasis added]. Attend a congress of any body of men and women; observe them carefully, and you will note how large a part the instincts and emotions play, and the far from high quality of the display of intelligence [emphasis added]. You will see highly intelligent men and women, whom you have heard about or read of, and you will go home with a quite different conception of them; for you will judge them by their actions and the part they play in the discussions. Most observers, in such conditions, will judge wrongly. For crowds are contagious, their speech and acts are contagious, and, for the time being, every man and woman in a crowd is a very different individual from what he or she is in private and in ordinary life [emphasis added]. Any person who doubts this has only to make the experiment. Let him mix with any crowd where feelings run high and opinions clash, and let him note the effect on his own mentality. One thing is sure to strike him when a member of such a crowd – the enormous power of suggestion and a weakening of his own strength to resist its influence”

    “… The great thing to grasp is that the crowd mind is antagonistic to the individual mind. The crowd mind demands that you, as a member of the crowd, should think as it thinks. Never lose sight of that fact; be determined to think for yourself, and panic thoughts will have little power over you [emphasis added]. One word more: watch closely your emotions when you are a member of a crowd; never allow them to develop; switch the mind away to the cool, calm collected attitude of mind.”

    As a more succinct recapitulation of defensive crowd-avoidance psychology, it seems reasonable to follow Michael Parenti’s admonition to “stop saying ‘we’ do this and ‘we’ do that, since [the plural pronoun] ‘we’ really [refers to] policymakers within the national security establishment who represent a particular set of class interests.” Following James Alexander and Michael Parenti, then, I suggest re-writing the title of this article as a question rather than a statement as follows:

    Why should anyone feel ‘outraged’ — or even simply irritated — just because policymakers within the national security establishment (who represent a particular set of class interests) attempt to stampede the common people into not thinking by (metaphorically) “shouting ‘Poison Gas!’ in the crowded theater” of Concentrated-Corporate-Media-Group-Think?

    So much for “we” and “outrage.” I’ll have neither, thank you very much. Especially when I hear those meaningless word-like-noises spewed at me by the likes of Donald Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and a plethora of stuffed-shirt generals like James “Mad Dog” Mattis who — let us never forget — levelled the Iraqi city of Falluja twice in order to avenge the deaths of four — 4 — dogs-of-war mercenaries from Blackwater, Inc. Such saintly persons really care a lot about women and children, don’t you know, even as they bury them in tons of White Phosphorus and Depleted Uranium. Soulless, pychotic sons-of-bitches, the lot of them. If I had any “outrage” left in me at my age, (1) I would choose my own brand, (2) I would know where to direct it; and (3) the target person’s name would not sound anything at all like Bashar al-Assad or Vladimir Putin, neither of whom, to my knowledge, have ever harmed or threatened to harm the United States of America in any way whatsoever.

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  6. Well, the U.S. military, joined by Britain and France, have once again sent an assortment of missiles and bombs against Syria, reportedly targeting chemical facilities in a “precise” way. So let’s look at the questions I asked, and the answers according to the U.S. government and the media:

    1. The U.S. and its allies claim evidence proves the Assad government was responsible for recent chemical attacks.

    2. U.S. military attacks are supposed to degrade Assad’s capabilities to launch future chemical attacks and perhaps deter them as well.

    3. There’s no vital interest of the U.S. at stake here, unless one counts warnings about crossing “red lines” as a vital interest (which I don’t).

    4. Adding yet more missiles and bombs to an ongoing civil war in Syria has no benefit to the Syrian people, unless one assumes that (2) above will come true.

    There is, of course, no surprise that Trump-Bolton-Pompeo-Mattis launched such attacks on Syria. They see themselves as decisive “men of action,” the opposite of weak-kneed (to their mind) Obama.

    Where this will all lead, no one knows. One thing is certain: Syria continues to suffer.

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    1. Trump has already announced “mission accomplished” in a tweet following the Syrian bombing. Now where have we heard that phrase before? Hint: 2003, aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln

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      1. Once Mission Accomplished has been declared, it’s all over. There were no casualties after 2003, right? I must have gotten the dates wrong those years when I kept learning that some of my friends weren’t ever coming home again.

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    2. Isn’t that the truth. The world has abandoned Syria. Flinging another grip of cruise missiles at targets that were probably deserted (maybe some were successfully defended by Russian SAMs, hard to tell at this point since both sides are playing impressions management) won’t change a thing, and won’t prevent another chemical attack any more than the last round did.

      If I were Assad, I’d launch another gas attack in a week or so just to raise the middle finger. That’d make this round of ‘mission accomplished’ look even more ridiculous.

      Watching the situation unfold the past few days has been instructive, though. Russia remains the big winner in all this. Putin basically dictated the level of response, and right now looks like he deterred a bigger strike. So, one more win for him.

      Watching Putin and Trump play realpolitik is like watching a chessmaster toy with a 5-year old.

      Also, I love how the Pentagon happily reports no missiles shot down, all targets successfully hit. Reminds me of the 90’s, when every day before school I’d watch the Pentagon briefing listing all the tanks and trucks and other targets destroyed in Serbia the day before. Only to discover, after that war was over, that most of what was hit turned out to be decoys.

      Media never questions the Pentagon on it, though. I wonder – if there was broader knowledge of basic military science, would we get better questions directed at the leadership? History shows that generals and admirals get things wrong again, and again, and again. And yet, whatever the Pentagon briefing says gets reported as God’s own truth.

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  7. The U.S. can claim “evidence” points to Assad using the gas it this point, but that makes no sense to me. He has absolutely no reason to use gas, knowing full well that it invites U.S. intervention. However, FSA and ISIS both have reason use poison gas for that exact reason. They’ve been almost completely pushed out of the country, to the point that Russia is already claiming that “the war in Syria is over,” and the way to escalate the conflict again is to bring the U.S. back into the fold. Neither Putin nor Assad wants war, but war is good business, and if my suspicions are correct, than the rebels are playing the Pentagon like a damn fiddle.

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    1. Very good points KAJA: None of it makes any sense!
      As for the coalitions’ missile rate of success, it reminds me of my HS geometry grades, which I had to retake in summer school.
      The conversation in an airport I had with the Iraqi escaping is at least 10 years old. He put all the blame for the destruction of his country on Paul Bremer, the one time supposedly ‘Czar’ of Iraqi “recovery”. That included dismantling their army, which immediately led to unemployed men turning to terrorism. Then Bremer’s attempt to ‘privatize’ the Iraqi economy, a disaster that ruined it for everyone, including the Brits & Americans, hoping to steal it. He reminded me, like many Middle Eastern societies, they have a leaning towards some “socialistic” tendencies, like free healthcare and subsidized basic foods. Bremer tore that apart also.
      As for rich Iraqis, “they did what they wanted, like all Western countries, but didn’t bother anyone…”. Today in lockdown.
      Today it’s a destroyed and ruined country, run by gangsters.
      With some optimism though, Syria may be a different story. Agreed, it’s already wrecked structurally, but they seem as a people to have more coordination than Iraq. Syria may be the well deserved defeat the West finally gets!
      I say such out of selfishness, to get our ‘leaders’ to fix our own countries, leave adventurism to war novels….

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  8. Killing is KILLING…… those who are killed are NOT asked their preference as to how they would like to get killed. USA has killed ENOUGH with all kinds of weapons….
    Just wondering if ALL the countries victimised by the USA were to get together and blow up ALL the facilities in the USA producing arms and ammunitions that have killed their citizens!! The picture would not be petty!
    Also all those who swore to protect the constitution have done anything but!
    https://theintercept.com/2018/04/14/donald-trump-ordered-syria-strike-based-on-a-secret-legal-justification-even-congress-cant-see/

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  9. An obvious, logical, and quite well-written analysis by Chris Floyd at his Empire Burlesque blog: “Alchemical Reactions: Transmuting Death-Dealing Dung Into PR Gold” (April 14, 2018:

    One simple point: if the US/UK/France really believed the building they targeted (and hit) in a heavily populated civilian area of Damascus was actually making chemical weapons, what do they think would have happened if all that toxic material had been dispersed by explosions throughout the surrounding neighborhoods? Hundreds if not thousands of civilians would have died. So either the “Western powers” knowingly risked killing thousands of innocent people — or else they knew the building was not actually a chemical weapons facility.

    Thus we are left with two possible conclusions: either they are “gas-killing animals” happy to murder untold numbers of innocent people in a military action (the very crime of which they accuse Asad); or they are deeply cynical liars using entirely bogus “humanitarian” concerns to advance a geopolitical agenda of domination in the Middle East that has already killed more than a million innocent human beings, displaced millions more, destroyed several countries and destabilized the entire world. There really are no other options.

    Again: either they genuinely believed it was a chemical weapons factory and they blew it to smithereens without the slightest regard for what would happen to those in the area; or they knew it wasn’t a WMD site at all. Either option makes an utter mockery of their sickening false piety about their concern for “innocent Syrian victims.”

    And by the way, what DID happen after the strike? Nothing. There was no dispersal of deadly chemicals, not even in the ruins of the building itself, as AFP and the Times of India report. Foreign reporters toured the site, without protective gear, in perfect safety. Obviously, there had been no chemical weapons there. Of course, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has repeatedly verified that Syria has dismantled all its chemical weapons facilities and that its stocks of chemical weapons were destroyed years ago, under international supervision. That doesn’t necessarily mean there might possibly be some secret government chemical weapon facilities somewhere in Syria, although there has not yet been any evidence of this. But it does mean that the “chemical weapons factory” that the Trump-May-Macron axis claims to have hit in Damascus was almost certainly nothing of the kind.

    Yet another flatulent fraud of a U.S. “humanitarian intervention,” one conducted solely for domestic political consumption and completely outside the bounds of international law, in open violation of the U.S. Constitution and UN Charter (a ratified treaty and therefore a part of the U.S. Constitution). But, as George Orwell told us in 1984: “In Oceania there is no law.”

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    1. Another quick-and-easy update from Dmitry Orlov, a Russian/American who knows from whence he speaks regarding the second “one-shot deal” of a military “message” delivered in the dark of night by the cowardly United States (and assorted pathetic vassals) in the last two years.

      • US/UK lobbed twice as many missiles as last year.
      • Just as last year, most of the missiles fell in the sea or got shot down by Syrian air defenses (using Soviet-era weapons).
      • One of the more significant targets was, once again, a military airfield; however, this time all of the missiles that targeted it were intercepted.
      • Russian facilities and air defense sectors in Syria were not targeted.
      • The US had apparently begged and pleaded with the Russians not to retaliate, and had received some assurances, allowing them to leave their sitting ducks (i.e., precious naval assets) in eastern Mediterranean, within easy reach of Russian missiles.
      • The pretext was another certifiably fake chemical weapons provocation in Gouta, which was about to be inspected and certified as fake by experts from Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; hence the rush to shoot first (and refuse to ask questions later).
      This year’s attack, being a virtual repeat of last years, is even more pathetic and idiotic, and more evidence that the US and the UK are being run by mental defectives. Plus it has a distinct whiff of desperation and sour grapes: the US has lost Syria
      [emphasis added].

      Now, what with another Bubba Bill Clinton Wag-the-Dog “precursor chemical” bombing out of the way, we can return to the sordid, squallid, Stormy-Daniels-does-Monica-Lewinski thing that the Concentrated Corporate Media so loves to exploit for “ratings” and click-bait advertising dollars. Say what you will about the “sneak” Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941: at least they waited until after the sun had come up. In the U.S. these days our Commander-in-Brief and his gentrified generals made sure to wait until night had fallen and the stock markets had closed for the weekend.

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  10. I will need to think about when the Rubicon was crossed in our US history. At least in my lifetime it was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Once LBJ got the go code he turned a minor naval incident (if it really happened at all) into a reason to invade South Vietnam, bomb North Vietnam and Laos. Mounting American casualties and massive anti-war demonstrations forced a withdrawal under the cover of Vietnamization. The Establishment was frightened the old order was being attacked and undermined, time to end the Vietnam War.

    Our Congress has been reduced to a subservient role. Congress is capable only of standing by and watching, the presidents, who now virtual dictatorial powers. Congressional power to intervene or thwart the Wall Street-Military- Industrial Complex is nil, in fact they are owned by this group.

    I did find a anti-war video by Buffy Sainte-Marie – The War Racket. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzG_4e8yGew&feature=share

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  11. Twelve years ago during the ruinous reign of Deputy Dubya the Dimwit, I had a few thoughts in verse about this practice of U.S. commanders-in-brief pimping out the U.S. military in the service of pariah parasites like the women-and-children-loving Sordid Arabians and Aparthied Zionist Occupation of Palestine (AZOP). These brief commanders come and go with depressing regularity, but they keep singing the same old sorry song: “Still pimpin’ after all these years.”

    Pimpin’ with the Prezident

    It ain’t so hard to be a pimp
    Just ask George Bush, the wailin’ wimp

    He’ll eat your hamburger today
    Then Tuesday promise to repay

    On Monday, though, he plans to skip
    And leave your kids with bill and tip

    He’s pimped the troops out walkin’ beats
    In Baghdad’s mean and lethal streets

    While he stays safe at home in bed
    A nightlight shinin’ by his head

    He flies into Iraq at night
    Then splits before the mornin’ light

    He takes some promo picture groups
    Him feedin’ turkey to the troops

    Another ersatz plastic bird:
    A photo of a smilin’ turd

    In his big plane he flies around
    While troops get hammered on the ground

    He pimps out both the girls and boys
    To bring in money for his joys

    Too bad his need to be reborn
    Too good the war bucks kiddie porn

    The fanboy fascists jerkin’ off
    Would never think to bitch or scoff

    It ain’t their sisters takin’ slap
    It ain’t their brothers catchin’ clap

    They loved that tale of Monica
    Why do they hate America?

    It ain’t so hard to be a pimp
    Just ask George Bush, the smirkin’ chimp

    He learned about the crime that pays
    In voodoo Reaganomics days

    With Laffer drawin’ fancy curves
    On napkins that the waitress serves

    Old Ron and Dick and Don saw quick
    That deficits would do the trick

    Just rob the future; hide the stash
    Then cover up by talkin’ trash

    The sacred military scam
    Would kill the ghost of’Vietnam

    “Let’s coin an urban myth,” they thought
    “To unlearn all the lessons taught”

    “We’ll say they had it ‘won’ for naught,
    We expert ones who never fought”

    “Their deaths and maimings we can choose
    To call a ‘syndrome’ — we can’t lose!”

    “Americans are so damn thick
    They think of wise as somethin’ sick”

    But, anyway, this pimpin’ pays
    You cannot even count the ways

    This pimpin’, George the Shrub thought fine
    As long as he could jump the line

    Let better men go off to die
    He’d get ahead and learn to fly

    He got his picture took in planes
    Then disappeared to make some gains

    But now, though, he gets custom threads
    And public funding for his meds

    “It troubles me,” he sometimes blurts
    When he gets wind of how war hurts

    “It must be like that ‘poverty’
    That mom made sure I’d never see”

    Like most stud hampsters, don’t you know?
    He swaggers like they’re hangin’ low

    With Haliburton writin’ checks
    Dick don’t care how much world George wrecks

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006

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  12. When thinking about U.S. “strategy,” such as it is, a few things come to mind:

    1. First act, then think. Action is everything.
    2. Action is best when you can blow something or someone up, especially in the Middle East, and especially against peoples who can’t retaliate against you.
    3. Action is best hyped for domestic political advantage. Talk about how tough you are, praise the military, and say “mission accomplished.”
    4. Don’t get Congress or the people involved, except as brainwashed cheerleaders or passive spectators,
    5. Always release videos of our ships firing missiles so that “reporters” can rhapsodize about the beauty of our weapons.
    6. Order more missiles from the military-industrial complex. Keep those production lines humming!
    7. Boast about how “locked and loaded” America is, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to repeat the sequence.

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  13. Here’s an “open letter” to Senator Chuck Schumer from the organization Indivisible BK Nation about Trump’s strike on Syria:

    View story at Medium.com

    Senator Schumer: Unauthorized Equals Not Appropriate

    To Senator Schumer:

    Last night President Trump launched an unauthorized air strike on Syria, not out of concern for the Syrian people, not as part of a long-term, thoughtful strategy, but to distract the American public from his own criminality and corruption.

    Your response was inadequate. You called the strike “appropriate” and warned against further entanglement.

    You did not mention the thousands of Syrian refugees Trump has barred from the United States. You said nothing about Trump’s obvious ploy to distract from Special Counsel Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. You ignored the possibility that Trump should have sought congressional authorization for the strike (authorization he himself insisted on when President Obama launched a similar effort in 2013).

    In short, you missed an opportunity to fight back. We won’t.

    We do not accept a president who launches unauthorized, impulsive military assaults to distract the public from his culpability in a federal investigation. If President Trump cares as deeply as he claims to about the plight of Syrian civilians, then he should immediately welcome the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing Assad’s brutality, not entangle the United States in an unauthorized war with no endgame. Make no mistake, Assad’s brutal attacks on civilians do warrant a strong multilateral response. But that Trump clearly views the military as his own personal publicity tool to impede federal investigations is deeply alarming and only affirms the need for congressional authorization before any further action. Whether or not these strikes were “appropriate” is not the point.

    Senator Schumer, you must condemn this strike for what it is — a blatant and unauthorized attempt to distract the American people from the constitutional crisis engulfing the White House — and demand congressional authorization for further actions.

    Sincerely,

    Indivisible Nation BK
    Indivisible Brooklyn
    Empire State Indivisible
    Indivisible Harlem
    NY Indivisible
    Briarcliff Ossining Indivisible
    Bronx Indivisible
    Arise Larchmont Indivisible
    Indivisible Westchester
    Indivisible NY24
    Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance
    Resist in Peace
    Veterans for Peace — NYC Chapter

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  14. An excellent pick-up by the Moon of Alabama blog. The Pentagram maintains — with a crooked face trying to look straight — that it launched over a hundred cruise missiles at Syria and only hit three targets. What “precision.” No math-scientist myself, I can still divide 105 by 3 and get an average of 35 cruise missiles per target. Moon of Alabama explains what this means:

    There is a very large discrepancy between the Russian Ministry of Defense report of strike and the description in the Pentagon briefing on the strike. According to the Pentagon only three places related to non-existing Syrian chemical weapons were targeted:

    “This combined military strike was directed against three distinct Syrian chemical weapons program targets.

    In summary, in a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets.”

    It does not make any sense to send 35 cruise missiles against each of those not hardened, not defended targets like the now destroyed Barzeh research center which was a small two story building complex (pic of destruction) and had been declared free of chemical weapons and weapon research by the OPCW. Why would the U.S. military use such a high number of precision weapons against only three targets? This is extremely unusual and does not make sense at all.

    The Russians, as well as other sources on the ground, report in detail of many more targets:

    Four missiles targeted the Damascus International Airport; 12 missiles – the Al-Dumayr airdrome, all the missiles have been shot down.

    18 missiles targeted the Blai airdrome, all the missiles shot down.

    12 missiles targeted the Shayrat air base, all the missiles shot down. Air bases were not affected by the strike.

    Five out of nine missiles were shot down targeting the unoccupied Mazzeh airdrome.

    Thirteen out of sixteen missiles were shot down targeting the Homs airdrome. There are no heavy destructions.

    In total 30 missiles targeted facilities near Barzah and Jaramana. Seven of them have been shot down.

    At least six airports were targeted according to the Russian report. The Pentagon reports no strike on Syrian airports but claims to have launched a way too high number of cruise missiles for each of the claimed three target. The Syrian opposition outlet SOHR reports of eight targets and says that at least 65 of the cruise missiles were downed by the Syrian air defenses. The Russians say 71 were shot down while the Pentagon says none of its cruise missiles were hit.

    At least three other sources confirm the Russian version of events. The Pentagon is lying. The attack was a U.S. attempt to disable the Syrian air force by destroying its airports. It failed and the Pentagon is hiding that failure. Will the U.S. media report this discrepancy?</b? [emphasis added]

    Not unrelated to the strike on Syria is the Skripal case where the mysteries continue to pile up.

    Another long-time analyst of Russian affairs adds: What the US Did and Did Not Achieve in Attacking Syria by Gilbert Doctorow, Russia Insider (4/16/2018).

    Skipping directly to the last two paragraphs:

    The overriding conclusion of this and other reporting on Russian television is that Russian lives, Russian interests and Russian military potential figured at every turn when the Pentagon devised its attack plan on Syria.  Under these circumstances, the Russians had no reason to respond emotionally and in irresponsible manner to the US provocation.

    What further actions the Russians may take to exact a price from the Western coalition for its violation of international law over Syria remains to be seen. But it is a safe guess that Britain will take the first hit [emphasis added].

    The Limeys asked for it and will deserve what they get for playing yapping poodle to an orange orangutan clumsily juggling a live hand grenade. How does that old Noel Coward lyric go? “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”

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