/ Is Putin just playing games...
Intriguing idea. It doesn't help the poor sods who died but it might just be a way to avoid more in the future.
Looks like Sergei Lavrov might have pulled something useful out of the bag to defuse the situation somewhat. Let's hope Assad does the sensible thing.
Obviously he reads UKC and saw my suggestion last week.
I feel rather proud ;=).
A pragmatic suggestion which would eliminate chemical weapons from the conflict without apportioning blame.
> Looks like Sergei Lavrov might have pulled something useful out of the bag to defuse the situation somewhat. Let's hope Assad does the sensible thing.
Assad now has to do the right thing - if he doesn't, hopefully he will get vapourised.
Makes a change from Putin's usual shit stirring stuff.
We'll wait and see.
There was an awful video on the guardian this week of 7 PoW's being executed by the rebels. Highlights how how barbaric its getting both sides.
Artfully delaying proceedings so the US loses what little momentum it has to strike and loses the 'protecting civilians' high ground. Ultimately it's too dangerous and complicated and would require a hell of a lot of (UN?) boots on the ground to implement which is unlikely to happen in the middle of a raging civil war but we'll be 2 or 3 months further down the line by the time that's discussed to death giving Assad a bit of time to exploit his (reported) momentum. On the other hand if it pays off and Assad is willing and able to facilitate the removal of the weapons in a timely fashion then Russia gets a lot of kudos and is less likely to face gas on the streets of Moscow. Win win for the Kremlin.
So if this comes off as a direct result of threatened attack by the US, what have all those who argued against the US's proposed action (including a lot of UKC) to say?
I'm guessing the people arguing against it would have been arguing against Syria being attacked, so they'd be glad and say hooray?
What is your point? It escapes me.
That without the US threat Russia may have not intervened and the chemical strikes continued.
I don't know, looking at US support I'm not sure a strike is feasible anyway.
If I were Assad I'd be clapping my hands and skipping with glee.
Russian troops stationed in some of my military strongholds - that's one area I no longer have to defend. Clearly I will need to leave a large number of troops there in order to safeguard the weapons should the rebels decide to attack any way. Those troops might go on the odd sorti into combat as well - it is after all my army - before retiring back to their Russian protected stronghold.
Obviously the estimates of my chemical weapon arsenal by the rest of the world are much too large and I do dispute some of the areas that you claim are manufacturing bases, so you can't go there.
I don't have any chemical weapons battalions out on the field either. I promise.
In the meantime - whilst we take some considerable time to thrash out the t's and c's I can occupy the moral high ground as I am "trying" to help...
So end result of Russian involvement:-
Russian secured Assad positions, safe from rebel attack.
Mobile CW divisions able to deploy as before.
Deniability should I decide to use CW - because the Russians have oversight of "all" thar Assad possesses.
Contribution to strengthening regime forces = lots.
Contribution to preventing deaths of civilians = not very much at all.
> Obviously he reads UKC and saw my suggestion last week.
> I feel rather proud ;=).
It was Kerry that stole your idea,( and the Russians stole it from him.)
There is an 'e' on the end of 'sortie'.
Apart from that you are obviously as cynical as I am about these manoeuvrings and posturings from positions that have little basis in fact and evidence - albeit we come from a VERY different perspective on the apparent 'right' in this issue.
If you were Assad you'd have put the opposition in gulags.
In terms of playing games, I'd say it looks very like chess. Putin has just made an awesome move on the chessboard that I don't think Obama, or almost anyone, saw coming. And it's now looking awfully like checkmate. We shall see in the next few days.
And to the OP
Putin is a politician. He is de facto just playing games.
> Is this cynical or realistic? All of these dictators who have recently been overthrown have protected Christians and other minority religions during their rule. Sadam Hussein Iraq, Mobarak Egypt, Gadaffi Lybia and the Tunisian bloke.
out of curiosity are you supporting opposition like al nusra ?
> out of curiosity are you supporting opposition like al nusra ?
You mean "you're". And I guess I support al nusra to the same extent you support Assad.
What makes you think I would support Assad, I have said in every thread I am for the people of syria. You don't seem to say what you are for?
> What makes you think I would support Assad, I have said in every thread I am for the people of syria. You don't seem to say what you are for?
What makes you think I support al nusra?
Me? I'm for peace.
You're right it was. I've family stuff happening that's making me 'funny' with people.
> I don't know, looking at US support I'm not sure a strike is feasible anyway.
I don't know how much credit can be given to the US for leading to Russia intervening, though, once events have happened it's easy to look at them in different ways.
Don't quite understand what you are trying to say here?
1)Random insult on how "I" would behave personally.
2)A suggestion that the Assad that I described would have used CW already (which implies that he "definitely" hasn't)
3) A suggestion that if "one" were Assad "one" would already have used CW (see point 2)
Perhaps you could clarify?
There we have it, you're for peace, as am I .
And to on duty,
No surprises there then ;)
Still not clear where you are going with it though?
Do you think Assad "definitely" didn't use chemical weapons?
Is Putin playing games? - Yes.
And to on duty .
There is doubt , but that is not what I was saying, I was just guessing that you would.
If I am wrong then it must difficult to guess what another person would do or be thinking.
Come on people Putin was the most hated homophobe on the planet 3 weeks ago. Make your mind up.
Leaving aside whether Assad did or didn't use CW, or even if Assad does or doesn't (as he claims) even possess them - what effect will the Russian "solution" have?
It will prevent any Western anti-Assad strikes or overt interference.
It will enable him to appear to be appeasing Western concern about CW.
It will strengthen his military positions by effectively providing Russian "human shields" which will function against both the rebel forces and any Western actions.
It won't prevent him from conducting war, pretty much as he sees fit. (With the implications that entails...)
It won't provide any protection for any civilians.
In my view, Assad definitely did use chemical weapons.
In my view, Putin doesn't genuinely believe what he is saying.
Having said that, Putin has, it seems, found a stronger way to play the political game than Obama (who has been very flat footed the whole time imo).
Given that 'we' as a country appear not to really support military action and do want a political solution, is it no surprise that (for a change) Putin's political solution-led approach strikes a chord EVEN IF there is a large element that favours Russia and its ally Syria/Assad.
Personally, I think I would be relatively content if that meant that Assad did actually stop using chemical weapons. We have no idea whether the opposition would be better, and a strong indication they wouldn't really. As said, I do however worry that the Russian support gives Assad a window to continue as before. Surely the trick is for the UN and others to ensure he doesn't and wouldn't that be a good political solution (even if it didn't originate from the West)?
"According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business", he told French television:
"I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria."
The 2011 uprisings, it would seem - triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes - came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within."
I read that Russia wants Syria to place their chemical weapons under international control. Not Russian control.
Where did you read that Russia was proposing to send troops into Syria?
> Come on people Putin was the most hated homophobe on the planet 3 weeks ago. Make your mind up.
'I' still think that, and I think he's got Russia's place in the world in mind. He's still an evil person imo.
That's just Libyans.
I would agree re Putin personally. However, do we reject his 'solution' because of the man? And Putin, as Obama, is not the country.
I think it would be naive to suggest that Britain hasn't had any involvement in Syrian opposition since Assad's dad was in power. Britain is home to a great number of exiles from their regime.
That article does do a bit of 2+2=5 though.
Dumas quoted in the article, in an effort to support his position in a TV debate, has claimed that he has spoken to British officials who have claimed they had "something planned" in Syria, which then becomes "gunmen poised to invade" and that he was asked (as a politician who had been out of office for over 10 years!) if he wanted to "participate".
It is possible that his account is entirely correct - however I would hardly place it in the pile of "evidence which is clear and uncontroversial".
The leaked Stratfor emails came from Dec 2011 - at which point the civil war had been ongoing for some time - although at that time the FSA made up the opposition and appeared primarily motivated by regime change and establishment of a more democratic system.
Special forces involvement in supporting the training of pro-democracy fighters would seem to have been in keeping with the general consensus at the time - in the UK press at least - of a pro-democracy movement being crushed by Assad.
Whilst the author links to his own previous article describing "the confluence of domestic energy shortage and climate-induced droughts" as being the instigating factors, he chooses to place little emphasis on the political repression and developing tensions that were also taking place at the time, in his own words : -
The exodus inflamed sectarian tensions rooted in Assad's longstanding favouritism of his Alawite sect – many members of which are relatives and tribal allies – over the Sunni majority.
Since 2001 in particular, Syrian politics was increasingly repressive even by regional standards, while Assad's focus on IMF-backed market reform escalated unemployment and inequality. The new economic policies undermined the rural Sunni poor while expanding the regime-linked private sector through a web of corrupt, government-backed joint ventures that empowered the Alawite military elite and a parasitic business aristocracy.
> Leaving aside whether Assad did or didn't use CW, or even if Assad does or doesn't (as he claims) even possess them - what effect will the Russian "solution" have?
I am not saying anything,
> It will prevent any Western anti-Assad strikes or overt interference.
Anti assad air strikes? that a lot of Syrians don't want, is that a bad thing?
> It will enable him to appear to be appeasing Western concern about CW.
Appear or actually appeasing?
> It will strengthen his military positions by effectively providing Russian "human shields" which will function against both the rebel forces and any Western actions.
? F*ck western actions, its the people of syria We should care about not your western ego.
> It won't provide any protection for any civilians.
Are you really bothered about civilians?
I am glad you are not a politician,
> I read that Russia wants Syria to place their chemical weapons under international control. Not Russian control.
> Where did you read that Russia was proposing to send troops into Syria?
Fair point. Russian proposal but international control. Not sure how "control" over chemical weapons can be established without boots on the ground though.
My points could be rephrased to say UN/Coalition/Russian forces rather than "russian" forces.
In essence I don't see how providing security for regime stronghold positions will provide any security for the civilians caught up in these horrors, any particular guarantees that all weapons are under control and no preventative measures to stop any usage of chemical weapons that aren't in storage.
This is of course under the proviso that we don't know for certain that Assad is the perpatrator, and the party line is that he doesn't possess CW.
I am not saying anything,
Yes. An explanation for the use of chemical weapons is that they were deployed without personal permission from Assad. How does the BND come to their conclusion that he was unaware : -
"Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the paper said."
We also have
"BND had intercepted a telephone call in which a high-ranking member of Hezbollah in Lebanon told the Iranian embassy in Damascus that Assad had made a big mistake when he gave the order to use the chemicals"
The thrust of the article being that the view of German Intelligence is also that the weapons were deployed by the regime.
But as I said "Leaving aside [the chemical weapon questions] - what effect will the Russian "solution" have?"
Anti assad air strikes? that a lot of Syrians don't want, is that a bad thing?
No, not necessarily. I don't know what the best solution might be. Placing Russian (or international) troops around chemical weapons plants certainly limits any options for military action. Though, again, strikes might not be a good solution.
Appear or actually appeasing?
I'll go with "appear". But then I am cynical about how compliant he will be with handing over control of the chemical weapons that he is not keen to even admit having in his possession.
? F*ck western actions, its the people of syria We should care about not your western ego.
By fortifying regime positions we are not helping "the people of Syria". We are directly helping regime forces though.
How will a policy of non-intervention by somehow placing chemical weapons under international control, effect the way he conducts his war. Or do you imagine that the Russian deal will involve the reversal of all supply lines to ensure that any of the "non-existent" CW currently at the front line being sent back to areas where it can be brought under "international control".
Maybe I'm too cynical.
Are you really bothered about civilians?
Yes. Just because I extremely cynical about the "solution" proposed by the Russians doesn't make me somehow less bothered about the human casualties.
I am glad you are not a politician,
To be honest, if my job was to find a way to resolve this conflict peacefully, I am pretty glad I'm not a politician either.
Yep, 2002 - Bashar had been in power for approaching 2 years. A western educated man, with a western wife. One would have hoped the 2002 meeting might have helped herald the development of an increasingly democratic and progressive Syria.
> To be honest, if my job was to find a way to resolve this conflict peacefully, I am pretty glad I'm not a politician either.
Me neither, To that I will drink to, we just wave our cocks about on a climbing forum, in the safety of not having any affect on the outcome.
> Yep, 2002 - Bashar had been in power for approaching 2 years. A western educated man, with a western wife. One would have hoped the 2002 meeting might have helped herald the development of an increasingly democratic and progressive Syria.
I guess from that comment you assume the same in respect of the Queen meeting with the Saudi King.
"REMEMBER the opprobrium heaped on Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, in June for using tear gas and water-cannon against his people? Imagine the outrage if Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to fire live ammunition into demonstrators on the streets of Moscow. But over the weekend, when Egypt’s generals set about killing scores of protesters, the West responded with furrowed brows and pleas for all sides to refrain from violence. Such meekness betrays not only a lack of moral courage, but also a poor sense of where Egypt’s—and the West’s—real interests lie".
I assumed "international control" meant the CW would be flown to Russia rather than boots on the ground, just small numbers of Russian CW troops or international inspectors required to deal with the practicalities.
I don't see Putin wanting to place Russian troops into the Syrian civil war.
The fate of Syrian civilians is irrelevant to Putin.
I'm certain both US & Russia will claim credit and/or blame the other side depending on the outcome.
It could be a big win for Assad. If Assad gives over control of his CW, there will no military intervention from the USA or other western countries. Syrian rebels won't be able to use CW. Putin will be able to send whatever arms he wants to Syria.
I take your point, but there's very little enthusiasm in the EU to arm the rebels, apart from William Hague. There may well be an apparent stand-off, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Assad would back down - if he thinks he's got a chance of winning, he's going to keep going.
I would like to draw attention to this post.
It poses moral and practical questions. Which sides should Christians support? Bad dictators because they tend not to be interested in religion and certainly won't tolerate inter religious riots in their countries, or the revolutionary people, mostly Muslim, who contain amongst them jihadists who will kill them?
So these Arab Christians are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Whoever they support, some people are going to hate them.
(I have an old lady neighbour who told me at the bus stop that her church group had already discussed it.)
I don't suppose it's any good to remember that not even 5 years ago the U.S. were using white phosphorous ordnance to quell the fighting in Falluja either then?
Its held under the UN chemical weapons treaty as a chemical weapon.
The U.S. has little or not credibility left around the world and they're squandering what small amount they do have.
> Fair point. Russian proposal but international control. Not sure how "control" over chemical weapons can be established without boots on the ground though.
I guess we'll see later tonight but I'd imagine the boots on the ground would be from some reasonably neutral nations, Indonesia, Ireland, whatever..
I guess the weapons would be taken somewhere safe, not necessarily a Government stronghold. After all there's an awful lot of desert in Syria, have a look on Google earth. I'd also imagine that the UN would want inspectors to check in all the cupboards and under the floorboards to make sure they didn't have anything stashed away.
"In 2001 the New York Times reported that, without either Congressional oversight or a declaration to the Biological Weapons Convention, "the Pentagon has built a germ factory that could make enough lethal microbes to wipe out entire cities". The Pentagon claimed the purpose was defensive but, developed in contravention of international law, it didn't look good. The Bush government also sought to destroy the Biological Weapons Convention as an effective instrument by scuttling negotiations over the verification protocol required to make it work."
"In 1997 the US agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarin, VX, mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention – five years. Again it failed to keep its promise, and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021. Russia yesterday urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. Perhaps it should press the US to do the same."
God Bless America
This is a tad unfair. Russia is also falling behind on getting rid of chemical weapons. However the review board seems to accept as genuine the reason that it is damned hard to dispose of them safely. Whilst both countries have special disposal plants they can only get rid of so much at a time.
> This is a tad unfair. Russia is also falling behind on getting rid of chemical weapons. However the review board seems to accept as genuine the reason that it is damned hard to dispose of them safely. Whilst both countries have special disposal plants they can only get rid of so much at a time.
Well quite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_Weapons_Convention
..but don't let facts get in the way of the usual narrative of the US being the Great Satan.
> I don't suppose it's any good to remember that not even 5 years ago the U.S. were using white phosphorous ordnance to quell the fighting in Falluja either then?
> Its held under the UN chemical weapons treaty as a chemical weapon.
Without even bothering to google, I bet you £20 it isn't.
I've just done a quick Google:
'White phosphorus is covered by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, which prohibits its use as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations or in air attacks against enemy forces in civilian areas.'
I suppose the key word here is 'incendiary'. Because:
'white phosphorus, used by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2008, is not a chemical weapon as understood by the Chemical Weapons Convention, and its use is in itself not ‘in breach of all international conventions”
Here the key word seems to be 'all'. (And, of course, 'Israeli' … because there seem to be a set of different international laws for them anyway. If we used white phosphorus I'm sure there would be international outrage).
It seems that some dispute whether white phosophorus comes under the 1993 convention. Which seems very odd to me: when a chemical that is used as a weapon against civilian populations, is not regarded as a 'chemical weapon'. Because that's clearly what the words mean. Worth looking up the physiological affects of white phosphorus if you think it may not be a 'weapon'.
It's not used in the same way as Sarin or mustard gas where the substance is directly ingested.
White phosphorous is an incendiary. Maybe not the same sort of weapon as high explosive (another chemical) but probably in the same category as Napalm.
It's good to see people realising that this issue is about international law as well as simple human decency.
I'm not disputing white phosphorus is an incendiary, it's the lazy use of 'chemical weapon'. What constitutes a chemical weapon is clearly defined in the various protocols, and the poster I was replying to was talking nonsense about WP being a chemical weapon. Anything that goes bang tends to be made of chemicals, that doesn't automatically make it a chemical weapon that's "banned by the Geneva Convention, innit?"
While I'm on my soapbox, before anyone lobs a red depleted uranium herring into the debate, although uranium is a 'chemical', that's not a chemical weapon either, and because it's a bit radioactive that doesn't make it a 'nuclear weapon' either.
The bottom section, on how it fits into arms control regulations, is worth a read.
The short answer seems to be in non civilian areas on military targets you can use it all you want, which is presumably why we have used it in the past without outrage. You can't use it in civilian areas or on civilians for its incendiary purposes, although if its main purpose isn't incendiary (its a smokescreen for example) then that doesn't count as an incendiary weapon so potentially you can then use that in civilian areas.
Quote from the chappie from the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons linked in the article
"No it's not forbidden by the CWC if it is used within the context of a military application which does not require or does not intend to use the toxic properties of white phosphorus. White phosphorus is normally used to produce smoke, to camouflage movement.
If that is the purpose for which the white phosphorus is used, then that is considered under the convention legitimate use.
If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons"."
So it depends, basically. Its certainly not true to just say its a chemical weapon because sometimes it could be and sometimes it isn't, it depends who you are using it on, what the main effect of the weapon is and where it is being used.
Further reading I've done reveals some baffling legal trickery. Just how WP, used as it was against civilians in Syria (probably by Assad), is not regarded as toxic, I just don't get. Especially as one analyst puts it: 'If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons'.
Also, sorry, your term 'human decency' is far too feeble; we're talking about human health and even mortality. I.e a matter of life and death rather than mere manners.
Our posts crossed. I see you found the very same (useful and surely legally important) quote.
It's not legal trickery, it's relatively straightforward. If the primary function of a weapon is chemotoxic, i.e. it's a poison gas, then it's a chemical weapon.
If it has toxic properties, but that's secondary compared to it's primary effects, then that's not a chemical weapon. TNT is pretty toxic, but it's used to blow you up. Lead is very toxic, but it's used in bullets to make holes in people, not to poison them. White phosphorus is used to make smoke or set stuff on fire, not gas people, (it'd be a very ineffective way of doing so).
Interestingly, the effects of conventional weapons can be as horrific as any chemical weapon, so why are chemical weapons so emotive?
All I can say is, what a daft law. I would have thought that it all depends on how it is used, and not on its 'primary function'. The primary function of a butcher's knife is to cut meat; if it is deliberately used to harm another human being it's a murder weapon. The pedants may well then say, ah, yes, used like that WP is a weapon, but it's not a 'chemical' weapon. And all I can say to that is: well what in the hell type of weapon is it then? Because it's not a knife or gun or a bomb.
Re. your last para. The issue is about the use of c w against civilians. The perfectly rational fear about it is that, without international conventions, huge swathes of humanity could be wiped out very easily indeed in a manner of minutes. On a par with nuclear weapons, which we rightly have exactly the same qualms about.
And neither is close to nuclear weapons in destructive power.
> Interestingly, the effects of conventional weapons can be as horrific as any chemical weapon, so why are chemical weapons so emotive?
I suspect that if we'd been survivors of WW1 then we'd probably know the answer.
My take is that anything that reduces the number of deadly weapons mankind has at it's disposal is fine by me so I'll not be looking this gift horse in the mouth.
Oh aye, here's a link to the Geneva convention. Not that big or complicated a document and well worth reading if you haven't done so.
Exactly. Deliberately targeting civilians with WP is illegal, but so is bombing them, firing srtillery at them, shooting them, bayonetting them or clubbing them to death. There's nothing uniquely 'evil', (or particularly lethal or destructive), about WP. For some reason people start yelling 'chemical weapon'. I can think of worse conventional weapons to be targeted by.
> Interestingly, the effects of conventional weapons can be as horrific as any chemical weapon, so why are chemical weapons so emotive?
Is this not obvious?
> And neither is close to nuclear weapons in destructive power.
Isn't the horrifying truth about the most dangerous chemical weapons that they have a huge destructive power (in terms of human life, on a par with nuclear weapons), but that, of course, they leave all the enemy's superstructure and infrastructure intact, which is exactly why they are so attractive to an aggressor? I imagine you could use them in exactly the same way as multiple warheads with nuclear weapson (MIRVs).
> Is this not obvious?
I think it's partly due to the association with WWI trench warfare, the use of gas in the holocaust and 'a teaspoon of nerve gas can kill a million people' articles in the media.
In reality the vast majority of deaths and injury in WW1 were due to artillery and machine guns. No one's keen to ban them. Even with modern nerve agents it's extremely difficult to deploy as an effective weapon. Fuel air bombs would be a cheaper and more efficient way for a tyrant to wipe out towns and villages.
Don't get me wrong, chemical weapons are horrific things, causing far more pain and injury than they do deaths. That said getting your legs blown off by an IED or your kids napalmef isn't exactly pleasant either.
"The story of munitions dumping starts just after World War Two, when the Ministry of Defence had a considerable stockpile of US, British and captured German weapons to dispose of.
The site chosen was the Beaufort Dyke, a 30-mile long trench between Scotland and Ireland. Since then an estimated 1.17 million tonnes of weapons have been jettisoned off boats, supposedly into the trench. Included were artillery shells, phosphorous flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs.
In 1957 the RAF dumped the last of its wartime surplus, but the Army continued to dispose of many thousands of tonnes per year into the dyke. In 1973, however, Britain signed several international conventions, and by 1976 sea dumping had been stopped altogether.
It was not only conventional weapons that were at issue. For years the Government denied that radioactive waste was ever dumped in the Beaufort Dyke.
Such was its confidence that officials denounced environmentalists as scaremongers for suggesting that any such thing had occurred.
Last July, however, ministers made a dramatic U-turn by admitting that more than 2 tonnes of radioactive waste had indeed been dumped into the Irish Sea by private companies, including the defence contractor Ferranti.
Perhaps most worrying of all are the chemical and biological weapons lying in Britain's coastal waters. Shortly after the war, in an operation codenamed Sandcastle, huge quantities of chemical weapons were disposed of at sea. These included 120,000 tonnes of UK-manufactured mustard gas and 17,000 tonnes of the German nerve gas Tabun, all of which was loaded into 24 redundant vessels and scuttled in deep water off the Hebrides and Land's End.
Around 14,000 tonnes of Phosgene-charged rockets were also dumped into the Beaufort Dyke. Phosgene was used by both the Germans and the Allies. It is a colourless poison gas, synthesised by combining carbon monoxide with chlorine, and it acts as an acute respiratory irritant, causing severe lung damage. It was designed to incapacitate rather than to kill.
Critics fear that Phosgene canisters could come loose and float to the shore or shallower water. Here, divers might inadvertently come into contact with the gas, with grave consequences."
I don't think I could ever trust the "establishment" of this country....or any counties "establishment" for that matter.
I suspect they probably have some destructive power against civilians but I wonder how much they degrade military capability - I assume regular armies have some means of coping to some degree, and whilst fighting in hazmat suits isn't exactly efficient both sides probably have to do it...
You've just said chemical weapons leave infrastructure intact but then compared them to mirvs which is just about packing lots of nuclear warheads onto one rocket - how does that preserve infrastructure? I'm confused?
Last question - whilst it might preserve infrastructure I suspect the task of decontaminating and deep cleaning is fairly major before people can work/live in said places again without protection gear?
> My take is that anything that reduces the number of deadly weapons mankind has at it's disposal is fine by me so I'll not be looking this gift horse in the mouth.
Completely agree with that but there it would be good if people extended their concern to other weapons, some of which are sold by the UK. 'Collateral damage' from bombing and the high number of deaths in refugee camps, maybe the latter being the biggest killer in recent conflicts.
Better of two evils I suppose - I imagine that disassembling live ordnance on land in order to safely dispose of the materials within would have caused enough accidents, given the scale of the material to dispose of, as to make sea dumping seem like the best solution available at the time. Dumping, supposedly (although from the sounds of things not always) in deep water away from areas of population versus building disposal plants and risking however many lives of people disassembling bombs full of all sorts of nasties, plus the risk to the wider population if they detonated...? Not an easy choice to make. Doesn't excuse them dumping stuff nearer shore as the article suggests of course.
In terms of the phosgene, incidentally, it reacts with water to form hydrochloric acid and carbon dioxide, so the shells are probably only dangerous in a chemical weapon sense if they reach shore and then detonate in the air. I imagine if it exploded next to you you probably wouldn't be best pleased no matter what was in it.
List of explosives dumping grounds published by the MoD.
Beauforts Dyke 54 54 00 N 05 23 00 W Beauforts Dyke 1
Beauforts Dyke 54 45 00 N 05 15 00WBeauforts Dyke 2
Sound of Mull 56 30 00 N 05 37 00 W Sound of Mull
Isle of May (Firth of Forth) 56 11 24 N 02 29 00 WIsle of May (Firth of Forth) 1
Isle of May, Firth of Forth 56 10 45 N 02 30 15 WIsle of May, Firth of Forth 2
East of Aberdeen 57 09 00 N 01 58 30 W East of Aberdeen
Loch Linnhe 56 30 00 N 05 37 00 W Loch Linnhe
Inner Sound 57 19 00 N 05 51 00 W Inner Sound
The Rockall Trench has also been cited Rockall
England has quite a few on its coast as well.
One of the points of the Geneva convention(s) is that they did not set out to be statements of high minded (and completely unrealisable), piety saying things like "all war should be abolished" or "bad, nasty, violent people should be severely punished" (how exactly, without acting violently yourself, given that if they are violent and amoral, they are scarcely going to meekly hand themselves in at the nearest UN police station?).
It was specifically an attempt to reduce the horrors of war in a realistic way, i.e. what can practically be achieved, not to get rid of conflict altogether, which is clearly not going to happen and simply makes the declarer feel better about themselves. So it did indeed forbid certain weapons/methods of killing or maiming in a way that can be considered somewhat arbitrary.
But the world is full of limits that, taken in isolation, can be considered arbitrary. Why is the speed limit 70 mph, and has been for very many years? Why is the age for consensual sex (in Britain) set at 16? Yet most people will accept that both these things need limits, obviously you are going to get edge cases and special circumstances that make them look ridiculous, but that will apply to any limit. So if one sees the ban on chemical weapons (leaving aside those weapons that are not primarily chemical in intent, like white phosphorus or depleted uranium), in those terms, it is a very useful (not absolutely rational), restraint and barrier to minimise the likelihood that war will reach its full potential horror.
> One of the points of the Geneva convention(s) is that they did not set out to be statements of high minded (
Yes, that struck me when I read the convention. I got the feeling that it had been written by soldiers and politicians who had recently had first hand experience of war and had were setting realistic rather than idealistic rules.
All the more reason for prosecuting those who break them, they have little justification for doing so.
> It was specifically an attempt to reduce the horrors of war in a realistic way, i.e. what can practically be achieved, not to get rid of conflict altogether, which is clearly not going to happen and simply makes the declarer feel better about themselves.
If you look at Africa the problem is the that the conflicts have been exacerbated and perpetuated by industrialised nation supplying weapons to the conflict zone.
1. I don't think he is disinterested. Putin is helping primarily his client, Assad, by making it impossible for the US to attack while this is discussed. Then if agreed, attacks will be impossible while removal of chemical weapons is carried out. Meanwhile Assad can kill his people in other ways.
2. Edward Luttwak (Right wing Us commentator) suggests that the US best policy is to sustain the conflict by helping whoever is losing at any point in time. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/opinion/sunday/in-syria-america-loses-if-either-side-wins.html
The point was about the Geneva Convention(s), that they were trying to minimise the horrors of war. Clearly this can only apply where countries sign up to them, and at least make a show of trying to adhere to them in practice. Where this has been the case, this has largely been successful with regard to treatment of POWs and, to a lesser extent, civilian populations. For example the treatment of Western POWs by the Germans, and vica-versa was considerably more humane, than the utterly bestial treatment meeted out to Soviet or Nazi POWs by their respective opponents. Obviously to a large extent that is because both the Nazi and Soviet regimes were utterly brutal dictatorships, but there is also historical evidence that this WAS influenced by the fact that the Soviet Union was not a Geneva signatory.
Conflicts in Africa almost invariably are not between Geneva signatories, often not between coherent groups of any kind, so I am not quite clear of the relevance of the comparison. The point is that the convention has applied SOME restraint on those who adhere to it.
One can of course argue about chicken and egg, i.e. if a state adheres to the convention, is it more likely to show some restraint in warfare anyway.
> Oh aye, here's a link to the Geneva convention.
This and other laws about war assume a 19th century view of war, where armies in uniform march around in fields separate from civilians and try and kill each other until someone in authority surrenders. It's a bit like codifying the rules of rugby - both arbitrary (no eye gouging) and pragmatic (you can tackle).
Unfortunately in almost all modern wars at least one side doesn't wear uniforms, you can mix with civilians, and there's no-one around to surrender.
I just picked up on something you said 'what could be practically achieved', my point being the world (or the industrialized nations) hasn't really tried, quite the opposite. A more general point not specifically aimed at you, more in light of recent declarations from politicians and other posters.
I think most AK-47 do come from Russia and former easter bloc states.
I see what you're saying about the GC.
So 2 points :
1) just because we may not have acted perfectly in the past, or there are historical inconsistencies or whatever, is not of itself a reason for not doing anything now - it would be saying that half a loaf is exactly the same as no bread.
The conventions have been considerably better than nothing, also if it is possible to prevent chemical weapons being used again in the Syrian civil war (and other possible future wars), than if they are used, notwithstanding the entirely valid points about the victims of conventional weapons (or illness, starvation or other privation due to social disruption), then this is an unmixed good thing.
2) I very much doubt "we" can do anything very effective anyway. But this is still a massive tragedy, it would be nice if people did not try to score rhetorical points by piggybacking on it. If we can't help, a respectful silence would at least be more appropriate.
> 2) I very much doubt "we" can do anything very effective anyway. But this is still a massive tragedy, it would be nice if people did not try to score rhetorical points by piggybacking on it. If we can't help, a respectful silence would at least be more appropriate.
There is a point, that is to remind people that the rhetoric they are hearing probably is not the real motivation for what their government is trying to do. That obviously applies to Russia as well as to the west.
Secondly, there is something we can do, without making the situation worse, that is concentrate our efforts on humanitarian relief for the refugees.
It seems to me that 'we' can try to achieve one, but only one, of:
1. Help innocents in the conflict
2. Topple the Assad regime
3. Prevent instability from spreading through the region
4. Stop Jihadists taking over Syria
5. Prevent violations of the laws of war, especially use of chemical weapons, in the conflict
So - pick one!
> Unfortunately in almost all modern wars at least one side doesn't wear uniforms, you can mix with civilians, and there's no-one around to surrender.
Oh I disagree, there are plenty of conflicts in which the Geneva convention applies. The Balkans, various conflicts between Palestine or Lebanon and Israel and of course Syria. Note that there are caveats and conditions in the convention for wars fought entirely inside the borders of one country.
I agree they apply in theory.
I just said that the rules don't work in practice because the assumptions behind them are not true. In most of the conflicts you state at least one side has no uniforms, and so seeks out the cover of civilians as deliberate tactic
"Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.
Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar's royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.
The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria's borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future. Assad claims he is about to do that, a point he has repeated in his latest speeches. But it is vital that he publishes the election law as soon as possible, permits political parties and makes a commitment to allow independent monitors to watch the poll."
If the West weaken the Syrian army enough, giving enough advantage for a Rebel win, the ensuing sectarian violence will likely last for several years.
Associated Press 110,600 violent deaths March 2003 to April 2009
Costs of War Project 176,000–189,000 violent deaths including 134,000 civilians
March 2003 to February 2013
Iraq Body Count project 112,667–123,284 civilian deaths from violence. 174,000 civilian and combatant deaths. March 2003 to March 2013
Iraq Family Health Survey 151,000 violent deaths March 2003 to June 2006
Lancet survey 601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths March 2003 to June 2006
Opinion Research Business survey 1,033,000 deaths as a result of the conflict March 2003 to August 2007
Classified Iraq War Logs. 109,032 deaths including 66,081 civilian deaths.
January 2004 to December 2009
Well the majority of the 98, yes 98, Syrians (who also weren't refugees outside the country and who had working internet access) who were asked.
What do you think of the Russians and Iranians selling arms to the Government side?
..and what do you think will happen if the Syrian Government wins an outright victory?
True but I thought I'd keep it simple.
I get dismayed about the intellectual myopia I continually encounter where folk seem to think that "we" are the only nations who interfere in the affairs of other nations.
Anyway, a feeling of dread creeping up on me. I can't help thinking that this thread is on the brink of descending into another "West is evil/ no it's not" slagfest.
"Good Guardian" - shrlley shome mishtake! Or an oxymoron.
Pushing such a shoddy, loaded piece of work as that? I think you have rather shot yourself (and the good old boys at the good old Guardian), in the foot with that comment.
How on earth do you think anyone could conduct a meaningful opinion poll in a brutal hereditary dictatorship, even if they had anything remotely close to an adequate sample in terms of numbers, population spread, representative of different factions/religions etc? Does it not occur to you that people might be just a shade cautious about giving their real opinion in a place like Syria, with a very active, brutal and energetic secret police, even before the civil war which clearly upped the personal stakes hugely if you said the wrong thing about the president?
I didn't hear many objections when pro democracy demonstrators asked the Grand Prix organisers to boycott the Grand Prix....nothing much said when Saudi and Emmirate troops entered Bahrain to help squash the demonstrations and police the enforcement of a 3 month long curfew....wide spread torture dished out on opposition members/demonstrators even as the Grand Prix was taking place......but then it all ways has been a sport promoted by the "establishment".
One side has to win this, I really don't see the multi national "Rebel" force being the "knights in white armour" that will transform Syria into the democratic country that will lighten up and join the ranks of the democratic world.
There doesn't seem to be much civilian support for the rebels when the supposedly "liberate"
towns like Aleppo.
Quote from GlobalPost: Complete Coverage from Inside Syria
Aleppo, a city of about 3 million people, was once the financial heart of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.
The rebels in Aleppo are predominantly from the countryside, further alienating them from the urban crowd that once lived here peacefully, in relative economic comfort and with little interference from the authoritarian government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The terrorism here in Syria is spreading, and the government has to do something about it,” said Mohamed Kabal, a 21-year-old university student.
“The people in Syria must have an iron hand to rule them, otherwise we will eat each other,” he said, unconcerned that the rebel sympathizers nearby might hear him. “If the government is gone we will have a civil war that will never end.”
Why? Maybe more than one side will win, or maybe all sides will loose. Who won in Yugoslavia*? And even if this is the case, why do you want the Assad regime to win? A government that will use its air force on its own hospitals doesn't seem worth saving to me.
*Perhaps, arguably, the Slovenes? But then mainly by getting out as quickly as possible and then staying clear of the real war.
Much as I hate realpolitik, it would be a good thing to take Assad's chemical weapons out of the equation - it is currently in the hands of the bad guys but could end up in the hands of the worse guys.
In terms of the deal, Russia is potentially going to have to lean on Syria fairly heavily. Russia has put its prestige on the line; if it can pull off an impressive diplomatic feat like a verifiable removal and/or destruction of Assad's weapons then it can (rightly) claim to have 'beaten' the US. But getting Syria to agree to this is likely to be difficult...
Meanwhile, the US is continuing to supply weapons, ammunition and equipment to the rebels, albeit slowly and carefully, so this does not mean the end of attempts to swing the conflict in the hopefully-good direction.
There is no way Israel (that's the correct spelling) is providing support. Why should they support jihadists?
What they are doing is striking Assad weapons that could be used against them, and helping injured Syrian civilians with hospital services who come across into the Golan.
Israel has taken in injured Rebel fighters/refugees, only a token gesture really.
Syria has approximately 450,000 (2010 figures) Palastinian refugees, only recently Israel was heavy handed with Palastinian demonstrators at the Syrian boarder.
Rebels have rejoiced as Israeli rockets pound Syrian military positions, Israel deny's that its carrying out these attacks, to give advantage to the rebels, by weakening the Syrian army.
Isreal claimed it carried out the attacks to prevent Hezbollah from getting there hand on chemical weopons.
The letter Putin has sent to the American people makes interesting reading....
"Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world."
I'm not justifying anything.
I'm asking you a direct question.
I'll ask it again. What's your opinion on Russia and Iran supplying the Syrian government with arms?
The arming of the "Rebel Fighters" is illegal.
"Russia was supplying "anti-air defence systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws," Lavrov told a news conference during a brief visit to Iran.
"That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government," he said, in remarks translated from Russian into Farsi by an official interpreter."
Do you think any leader who defies the US Empire and it's fundamentalist dictators when they decide to destabalise his country,should have any and all outside support for them automatically withdrawn?
To the extent that you do have a clear trajectory, you appear to be excusing the Assad regime, which is a brutal hereditary dictatorship whatever atrocities it may or may not have committed in the current bloody civil war. So that you are not yourself strawmanned, nor are words put into your mouth, why don't you say explicitly that you are not a partisan of the Assad regime, given that no other poster has shown any sign that they are uncritical admirers of the rebel groups?
Incidentally, there are strong suggestions that the UN inspectors will shortly report that there was a large scale chemical attack on rebel suburbs of Damascus. There are also leaks that they will in addition say that it was certainly or very probably carried out by the forces of the Syrian government.
In addition to that, Channel 4 tonight carried a detailed report of a massacre of civilians by the Syrian army and associated irregulars, of equal brutality and of a similar character to wartime atrocities in Lidice and Oradour. This report includes video and survivor testimony, indeed as much evidence as you can expect shortly after a war crime. So it would be a good idea if you removed any ambiguity about your position, given that you could easily be mistaken for an apologist.
It could of course be claimed (at a very strong pinch), that this was the work of rebels, or that the evidence is equivocal or all sorts of other things. But exactly what evidence is normally available after a massacre? Those who do it are scarcely likely to encourage vigorous investigative journalism, rather they want to make the victims and all witnesses disappear in Nacht und Nebel, for obvious reasons.
> I'm not justifying anything.
> I'm asking you a direct question.
> I'll ask it again. What's your opinion on Russia and Iran supplying the Syrian government with arms?
My opinion is that they are supplying arms to a recognised government. Its a dirty trade but, hell, Britain is world leader in that trade. So what they are doing is completely legitimate. If they weren't supplying arms then 'we' sure as hell would be. In fact we probably were/are!
>There is no way Israel (that's the correct spelling) is providing support. Why should they support jihadists?
Yeah !!why would Istraeil want to destroy the Syrian government?
I mean it's not like the Syrian government have helped,supported and worked with the most dangerous and effective enemy of Israel is it?
Don't make me laugh!
> Do you think any leader who defies the US Empire and it's fundamentalist dictators when they decide to destabalise his country,should have any and all outside support for them automatically withdrawn?
Can you answer his question with answer? I'm genuinely curious.
So you regard it as legitimate but immoral, is that right?
At the risk of incurring your wrath by pointing out an online newspaper that you may well be aware of ... ;-)
Charles Lister has some very insightful things to say about the current situation - picking a post relatively at random -: - http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/09/09/syrias_insurgency_beyond_good_guys_and_bad_guys
In a forum discussion it is customary to provide links to back up your position,which you contradict by supplying a ...guess what?
Link of your own,didn't you know Ukcers can read online newspapers?
Since this country and this whole damn US empire fabricate,conduct,distort,manipulate,dictate and spew forth all sorts of sewage for our more gullable idiots to digest,it can be helpful when people take the time to dig deeper than the superficial NATO media scripts shown by your CNN's,SKY's,BBC and C4 et al.
I doubt very much if the UN will have concluded that the Syrian government are with out doubt guilty of using CW's.
Exactly the strawmanning I was referring to.
No-one thinks that the opposition(s) are angels of mercy and tolerance, or that there is any kind of guaranteed route to freedom, prosperity and multi-party democracy if the regime is removed, nor has anyone at any stage suggested that there is an easy, tidy answer to this bitter conflict. Indeed, the burden of most of the comments, here, in other public forums, and in the recent parliamentary debate was all about a choice of evils - including a choice of evil people, with no good options and no good guys. All oriented toward doing the least bad thing, if we can work out what it is.
Does nothing penetrate your thick hide? Obviously the details of a mass-killing in a civil war are hidden as much as they can possibly be, so there will not for a very long time afterwards, if ever, be a "without doubt". That is never the calibre of evidence that is available for real time decisions, which certainly does not mean that mass killings have not occurred and very recently as well, on the basis of good (never "without doubt") evidence.
Frankly you still come across as a regime apologist.
Create a situation by funding,organizing and arming groups of people in a country whose government you want to eliminate,so that the government cracks down hard on these people.
Do you want to know how many countries the US and UK have done this to over the last 50 years? And how many people *we*, by creating bloody civil wars and installing tyrannts are responsible for murdering?
This quote from Cameron is brilliant
UK Minister David Cameron said the destruction of the weapons would be a "huge step forward", but warned that it should not be used as a "distraction tactic"
Distraction from what? I thought the purpose of this build up to war was to stop Assad using chemical weapons. If he gives them up, mission accomplished?
> So you regard it as legitimate but immoral, is that right?
At present I would say 'legal but immoral' rather than your wording.
'No-one thinks that the opposition(s) are angels of mercy and tolerance, or that there is any kind of guaranteed route to freedom, prosperity and multi-party democracy if the regime is removed, nor has anyone at any stage suggested that there is an easy, tidy answer to this bitter conflict. Indeed, the burden of most of the comments, here, in other public forums, and in the recent parliamentary debate was all about a choice of evils - including a choice of evil people, with no good options and no good guys. All oriented toward doing the least bad thing, if we can work out what it is.'
And your point is?
the most dangerous and effective enemy of Israel is it?
yeah, Syria is a country that bravely fights Israel to the last Lebanese and Palestinian.
> the most dangerous and effective enemy of Israel is it?
> yeah, Syria is a country that bravely fights Israel to the last Lebanese and Palestinian.
>>Sounds like Israel bravely using chemicals against the Palestinians a few years ago. And stealing their land, etc. etc.
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