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President Obama has exchanged letters with Iranian president

A) Why Chemical Weapons are Taboo

Why chemical weapons are taboo, by Professor Richard Price

UBC (University of British Columbia, Canada) professor Richard Price, author of a history of chemical weapons, discusses why they’re considered so heinous with The Sunday Edition.  Host Michael Enright.


B) Timeline

1) Assad violates an international lawSyrian President Bashar al-Assad is a protégé of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On 21 August 2013, Syria allows the wanton killing of 1,429 Syrians, including more than 400 children, using a chemical weapon: sarin.  Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction.

2) The international community and the US are outraged.  Syria “warns” that “after a strike, you can expect anything.”

By and large, United States citizens oppose a military strike on Syria.  Military action, however narrow and targeted, is dangerous: “after a strike, you can expect anything.”

http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/video/2013/09/09/bachar-al-assad-attendez-vous-a-tout_3473648_3218.html (in an interview, EN)

3) An agreement to put Assad’s chemical weapons under international control is reached.  A dangerous strike would not be necessary. (9 September 2013)

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes an “off-the-cuff” remark.  If Syria puts its chemical weapons under International Control, the matter is resolved.  President Putin calls on President Bashar al-Assad to put his chemical weapons under international control and destroy them.  Bashar al-Assad agrees to put his chemical weapons under international control.


4) Putin publishes a warning in The New York Times. (12 September 2013)

On 12 September 2013, Putin uses The New York Times to warn the US that it cannot break the law, the law being a decision not to strike by the United Nations’ Security Council.  However, the Assad regime has acted criminally.  Does one even vote under such circumstances?


5) However, it is the Assad regime that broke not only the law, but international law.  Bashar al-Assad is now a suspected criminal and could be arrested.  There is an International Court at The Hague, in the Netherlands.  Let us return to 21 August 2013.   

On 21 August 2013, forces under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s command gassed to death 1,429 Syrian citizens using a weapon of mass destruction: a chemical weapon.  Assad broke the law and Russia is backing Assad.  Therefore, how can Russian President Vladimir Putin ask Americans to respect the law?

6) An Agreement has been reached, but Assad is trying to back out.

US President Barack Obama has respected the law.  The US is nearly finished pulling out of the Middle East.  Since 2008, President Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have done everything in their power to respect the sovereignty of the various countries of the Middle East.  Current US Secretary of State John Kerry is also doing all he can to respect the sovereignty of the countries of the Middle East.

C) A Larger Threat

1. Danger:  If the world allows President Bashar al-Assad to use chemical weapons, one can expect further attacks by chemical weapons. 
2. Danger:  In the event of a strike on the part of the United States leading a coalition, “one can expect anything.”
3. Danger:  Russian President Vladimir Putin is Syria’s ally.  The Syrian crisis does not begin and end in Syria.  What if after a strike, Russia becomes the United States’ foe ?
4. Danger:  Iran
President Obama has exchanged letters with Iranian president
Obama’s Middle East dilemma, by Dr Marwan Al Kabalan


I still think it would be prudent on the part of the United States to insist that Assad put his chemical weapons under international supervision, at which point they will be destroyed, as he agreed to do.  I have yet to exclude provocation on the part of the Assad regime.  It could be that 1,429 Syrian citizens were gassed to death so the United States would feel motivated to intervene. Throughout the history of mankind, nations have killed their own people and made it seem the work of an enemy, thereby inviting hostility.

However, I still believe a strike can be avoided.  There is an Agreement, and the entire world knows there is.  Moreover, I am adding a new element: criminality.  If there has been a crime against humanity and there is an identified suspect, what role should the Security Council play?

Breaking News: a “War Crime” (Ban Ki-moon)


We have an Agreement, but we also have a suspected criminal.  If I were Bashar al-Assad, I would respect that Agreement without further delay.

– CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
– BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
– Syria online
– The Telegraph (UK)
– United Nations


Sergei Rachmaninoff (1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943)
Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5
Andre Kostelanetz and his Orchestra 


© Micheline Walker
September 16, 2013