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Syria and the Weapons of Moral Destruction

According to the international community, there are two types of weapons: conventional weapons which are considered moral and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which are considered immoral and illegal under international law. I’m afraid the distinction is lost on me.

Conventional weapons include things like guns, mortars, bombs, grenades, missiles and bigger weapons like ships and aircraft. One thing humanity has become quite proficient at is the development of weapons with which to kill each other.

The only real difference between conventional weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction that I can see is that WMDs simply get the job done more quickly. The end result is the same. People die; it simply takes less time and effort with WMDs.

This was made clear in Japan when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima killing more than 100,000 people and virtually obliterating the city. The United States also bombed Dresden, Germany near the end of WWII and for the same reason they bombed Hiroshima – to try and bring the war to an end. Unlike Japan, the Americans used conventional weapons in Germany, dropping 3900 tons of bombs; virtually destroying the main part of the city and killing almost 30,000 people.

Aside from the obvious efficiency of using one bomb to kill a significant number of people as opposed to many to achieve the same result, I’m afraid I don’t see the moral difference between the two and I’m quite certain that those who died wouldn’t either.

We have created an absurd distinction between one type of killing over another and it is now being used to justify intervention in Syria without much regard for either the morality or the consequences of that intervention.

The International Community, driven primarily by the United States but clearly supported by countries like Britain, France and even Canada, has condemned the use of chemical weapons this past week. Nobody knows for sure who used them or who ordered their use but the dogs of war are already barking for some kind of punitive strike against the Syrian regime.

The question I keep asking myself is; “where were all these moral world leaders when more than 100,000 people were being slaughtered by conventional weapons over the past 30 months?”

British Prime Minister David Cameron has literally donned miter and cassock to condemn the immorality of the use of chemical weapons as has the President of France and, of course, Barack Obama who has rediscovered his ‘red line’ in the sand. Interestingly enough, the International Community including the United Nations and NATO were pretty much silent when Sadaam Hussein used chemical weapons to murder 10,000 Kurds after the Gulf War.

It’s a hypocrisy that has more to do with political expediency than any principled concept of morality.

Did the use of a WMD in Hiroshima suddenly become a moral choice because it hastened the end of the war in the Pacific? If so, is it immoral to use chemical weapons to try and achieve the same result in Syria and if so, who gets to decide that?

Personally, I think the International Community has lost any moral authority on the use of chemical weapons anywhere but particularly in Syria after it stood and watched as tens of thousands were butchered and slaughtered. Syria is less a country now than an abattoir where the innocent are butchered by conventional weapons virtually every day. Men, women and children killed by weapons provided to the regime by Russia and Iran and to the rebels by the United States and some of its allies.

Morality? How is moral to provide weapons to either side to prolong the war especially when you are providing weapons to terrorist groups you are fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya? Some of the rebels fighting in Syria with American-supplied weapons belong to the same terrorist group that attacked the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi killing the American Ambassador and three other Americans. How does that reach any level of morality or even fundamental common sense?

The simple truth is that morality is not defined by a specific kind of weapon. It is defined by values and principles. It isn’t that certain weapons are immoral, it’s that too many world leaders have traded morality for expediency and that is the real problem we face today.

As Barack Obama rushes to flex his muscles in a desperate attempt to prove to the world that he is a resolute world leader after five years of establishing that he is anything but; he is about, along with the support of other western nations, to lift the lid on the box that holds unintended consequences. Nobody knows what will happen when the Americans strike select targets in Syria but the potential is for a rapid escalation of conflict that could draw in other nations whether they want to be drawn in or not.

Everything is interconnected. Syria is tied to Russia and Iran. Iran is tied to China which is already on the record saying it will come to the defense of any attack on Iran. The western countries are tied to Israel which almost surely will be drawn into an expanded conflict.

Such is the potential consequence of those who put expediency ahead of morality.

All weapons used in war are Weapons of Mass Destruction; it is only a matter of degree that separates them in much the same way that it is only a question of degree between a bullet and a bomb.

But there are Weapons of Moral Destruction.

They aren’t chemical, nuclear or mechanical. They wear suits and travel to briefings and meetings in Oval Offices, Cabinet, the United Nations and NATO in chauffeur-driven limousines. They make decisions based not on morality but on political considerations. They sacrifice this country or those people for the greater geo-political good like preserving the balance of regional power or oil supplies. Every now and then they feign moral outrage and use their considerable military might to inflict yet more carnage on some war-torn strip of the world where thousands have already died.

They almost never intervene in the beginning – there are always reasons why they should not and they know them all. Instead, they always wait until the body count is horrendous and their interests are threatened to do what they should have done in the beginning.

They aren’t immoral – they are amoral; the Weapons of Moral Destruction that have destroyed any concept of morality when it comes to protecting the lives of the innocent.

And now the Weapons of Moral Destruction are raising their voices again – God help us all.


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  • Wandering Mind

    This post gets better with each time I read it. Earlier today I noted “Only the moral see war as a source of great anguish and angst.”

  • Pingback: Syria and the Weapons of Moral Destruction | Grumpy Opinions()

  • CanadaGoose1

    This is a tough one. If the West doesn’t punish Syria, then Iran will be embolded to do god know what in the future. But since we never seem to get any thanks for helping Muslims in the world (Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq), I am inclined to let them solve their own problems.
    At least we get to laugh as Obama does what Bush did with even less consultation after the left hated Bush so much!

    • MaggiesBear

      The west, led by the United States, have already decided who to punish without actually knowing for certain who launched the weapons. They’ve even told the UN weapons inspectors to leave before they’ve completed their work. This is about flexing muscle, not about doing what is right. They’re 30 months too late for doing the moral thing.

      • brad maynard

        I agree with you. I sent an email to john baird begging him to not send troops or even lend moral support to this flowering disaster. I don’t even want to see aid going into that country. the rebels are muslim brotherhood and evidence is mounting that it was they who used the weapons. of course there are even reports that NO chemical weapons were used PERIOD!!! this is a clusterf$uck waiting to happen.

        • MaggiesBear

          From what I’ve heard to date, Mr. Baird seems to be one of the few rational thinkers on this issue and he is urging caution.

  • Cheryl

    We live in scary times.

    • MaggiesBear

      We are living on the edge of knife and being led by politicians that have learned nothing from history and who have little adherence to morality or principle.

  • Wandering Mind

    When the first innocent person is killed in a war, that war becomes immoral. Thus, all wars are immoral.

    That said, not all wars are unjust.

    Had we bombed Berlin into the ground in 1939, up to 50 million lives would have been spared. Think about that- up to 50 million lives. Would it have been moral to bomb Berlin so as to save 50 million lives?

    Nationhood is earned, not bestowed. Great nations are formed to build societies, not to destroy others. Healthy cultures define heroism as saving lives. Failed cultures define heroism by those who take lives. Healthy cultures elevate their citizenry. Failed cultures deprive and steal from their citizenry. Yes, it really is that simple. Is that not what Bashar Assad and his regime have done? Is our motive to continue the terror or to end it?

    What does it say about ourselves and what does it say to others if we are willing to belittle ourselves to plead the case for freedom over tyranny? That is like lowering ourselves to argue the merits of kindness over cruelty.

    The men and women today who may well be put in harms way do so to bring freedom and liberty to others in lands far away as. Contrast that with those who would take them away.

    The men and women marching today fight wars to defend the highest principles, that all men should be free.

    These men and women who today, fight wars in the hope, naive perhaps, that through their efforts, blood and tears, there would be an end to all wars. Contrast that to the enemies they face. Their motives are very different.

    Some of the men and women in uniform might never come home. They will be buried in fields, close and far away. Some graves might well remain unmarked, at the bottom of a forever cold ocean, with young and good men entombed in deep dark waters, never to have the sun shine on on their final resting places.

    Families too, will pay for their sacrifices.

    Children who never again would see their father or mother

    Wives will learn that, ‘what God hath brought together‘ can be ‘torn asunder’ at the hands of other men that held close evil to their heats.

    Parents will live through nature in reverse, burying their sons and daughters.

    For me, the question is all about motive. And on Syria I have a clear conscience. They have been victims of the Assads for generations. They are an imperfect, broken people and they need our help.

    I love this blog. Always makes me think.

    • MaggiesBear

      Your point about the bombing of Dresden is well-taken but it wouldn’t have been necessary if the the allies had done the moral thing and stood up to Hitler when he made his first territorial demands. He wasn’t strong enough to wage war and by his own admission would have backed down.

      The tragic reality is that sometimes war is necessary. What isn’t necessary is politicians trading principle and morality for expediency. Almost inevitably that merely postpones the conflict and creates a bigger war down the road.

      • Wandering Mind

        Agree entirely. To paraphrase, “We nevr miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’