Dr Richard Haass, a former senior State Department official under Republican presidents who now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters on Monday that cruise missile strikes on “anything associated with Syrian chemical weapons capabilities, storage depots or potentially the troops that are believed to be associated with their use” are most likely. Additionally, Haass predicted Syrian command-and-control facilities also could be targeted. “I would be in favour of a fairly heavy use of cruise missiles” in Syria. This he thinks would “discourage the Syrians from using chemical weapons again”.
Quite right, Virginia. This is the same Dr Richard Haass who is coming here shortly to tell us how to solve our problems. In light of the above I don’t think I can tell you how much I hope he’s on our side.
Meanwhile, it’s useful to remember the US’s record on the use of chemical weapons. Napalm was used by Americans in Vietnam from 1965-1972. Napalm is composed of polysteyrene, hydrocarbone benzene and gasoline. This gets you a jelly-like mess which, once ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns for up to ten minutes. On the human body it produces unbearable pain and almost always death. It was at first used by American troops on the ground armed with flame-throwers; later B-52 bombers dropped napalm over huge areas. It’s reckoned that 20,000,000 gallons of this toxin were dropped on Vietnam. (Yes, that is the correct number of zeros after the 2.)
Has the world gone collectively mad? A man who is in favour of dropping bombs on Syria, from a country which killed around 2,000,000 Vietnamese, let alone the numbers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, is coming here to show us how to put past hatreds aside and create a better tomorrow? Pinch me, someone. I know this is a bad dream.
Finally, three questions. When (if ever) did Britain and/or the US use chemical weapons? Does the US store chemical weapons at present? Does Britain? Just askin’, like.