Posts Tagged ‘Sarin’

Official story of sarin attack debunked

April 19, 2017

Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology and national security as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has written a series of reports that convincingly debunk the claim that the Syrian government attacked civilians with sarin two weeks ago.

He said, among other things, that—

The video evidence shows workers at the site roughly 30 hours after the alleged attack that were wearing clothing with the logo “Idlib Health Directorate.”

These individuals were photographed putting dead birds from a birdcage into plastic bags.  The implication of these actions was that the birds had died after being placed in the alleged sarin crater.

However, the video also shows the same workers inside and around the same crater with no protection of any kind against sarin poisoning. These individuals were wearing honeycomb face masks and medical exam gloves. They were otherwise dressed in normal streetwear and had no protective clothing of any kind.

The honeycomb face masks would provide absolutely no protection against either sarin vapors or sarin aerosols. The masks are only designed to filter small particles from the air.  If there were sarin vapor, it would be inhaled without attenuation by these individuals.  If the sarin were in an aerosol form, the aerosol would have condensed into the pours in the masks, and would have evaporated into a highly lethal gas as the individuals inhaled through the mask.  It is difficult to believe that such health workers, if they were health workers, would be so ignorant of these basic facts.

In addition, other people dressed as health workers were standing around the crater without any protection at all.

I don’t know for sure what happened.  What Prof. Postol’s report proves is that President Trump committed an act of war against a sovereign nation for reasons not supported by evidence.  Although the attack resulted in relatively few casualties and little damage, it may well have destroyed the possibility of peace with Syria and Russia.

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The best article I’ve read on the Syrian crisis

September 17, 2013

syria-ethnic-map-400x300

If you’re at all interested in the Syrian situation, you should read the article Syria: What Now? by William R. Polk, which is reproduced on James Fallows‘ web log in The Atlantic.

Here are the highlights of what I got out of the article.

  • Sarin has been only a minor factor in Syria’s civil war, accounting for 1 percent or less of casualties.  The reason Syria is stockpiling poison gas is to deter attack from other nations, especially Israel.  The government of Israel not only possesses nuclear weapons, but is believed to have a “robust” program of chemical and biological warfare manufacturing and training.
  • President Assad would never agree to dismantling of poison gas weapons without a Russian guarantee of protection against attack.  Any dismantling would have be under the supervision of Russian experts.  This would benefit the Syrian government because it would be a deterrent to attack by the United States.
  • Overthrow of the Assad government would lead to the balkanization of Syria into its various ethnic and religious groups and likely result in massacres of Syrian Christians and Alawite Muslims.  Such conflicts could spread to Lebanon and other neighboring countries.
  • The stability of Syria is a vital national interest to Russia, and not just for reasons of prestige.  One in six citizens of the Russian Federation is Muslim, and the Russian government has been fighting for years against rebels in the majority-Muslim province of Chechnya.  Overthrow of Assad could create a base for supplying the Chechen fighters.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

What can the U.S. usefully do in Syria?

September 3, 2013

Syria-alleged_poison_gas_attack

President Obama is asking Congress for authority to bomb Syria, but he said he has no intention of invading Syria.  Bombing will result in the deaths of some Syrians and some damage to Syria’s war-making capability, but it will not threaten the power of President Bashar al-Assad.  In fact it will strengthen his power, by turning the Syrian people and Arab people generally more against the United States than they already are.

What then can you about President Assad?  We don’t know his role, if any, in the gas attacks.  Maybe he ordered them.  Maybe his brother or some other element of the Syrian army ordered them.  Maybe a pro-government or anti-government militia carried them out.  Maybe the gas attacks were a deception operation by the Saudi or some other foreign government.

If there is proof that he ordered the nerve gas attacks, then we should bring a criminal case at the Hague.  There is a precedent for trying heads of state for crimes against humanity.  He could be tried in his absence.  Admittedly, Assad could not be brought to justice unless he was captured outside his country or his regime was overthrown, but these limitations are not nothing.  Of course all this is contingent on Assad actually being guilty of ordering the gassing of civilians, which at present is not at all certain.

What then can we do to help the Syrians?  Writer Charles Stross had a thought.

Nerve agents like Sarin aren’t black magic; they’re close relatives of organophosphate insecticides.  Medical treatments exist.  In particular there’s a gizmo called a NAAK, or Nerve Agent Antidote Kit. The drugs it relies on (neostigmine, atropine, and diazepam) are all more than fifty years old and dirt cheap; they won’t save someone who has inhaled a high lethal dose, but they’ll stabilize someone who’s been exposed, hopefully for long enough to get them decontaminated and rush them to a hospital for long-term treatment.  Mass Sarin attacks are survivable with prompt first aid and hospital support.

We should be distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones.  Government, civilian, rebels, it doesn’t matter.  By doing so we would be providing aid that was (a) life-saving (b) cheap, and (c) put a thumb on the side of the balance in favor of whoever isn’t using nerve gas. We’d also be breaking with the traditional pattern of western involvement in the region, which is to break shit and kill people, mostly innocent civilians who were trying to keep their heads down.  It wouldn’t fix our bloody-handed reputation, but it’d be a good start.

via Charlie’s Diary.

The other thing we Americans could do is to provide help and asylum for refugees, especially Christian refugees.  Syria, like Egypt, was a Christian country before it was a Muslim county, and still has a large Christian minority.  They will inevitably become the scapegoat for anything done by the supposedly Christian United States.