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US, Russia Agree On Plan To Dispose of Syria's Chemical Weapons

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the now-back-to-killing-people-with-regular-weapons dept.

The Military 256

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on a plan for removing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons. "Damascus will be given one week from now to give an inventory of its chemical arsenal and will have to allow international inspectors into Syria 'no later than November,' Kerry said after a third day of intense negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva." The weapons must all be eliminated by mid-2014. "If Syrian President Bashar Assad fails to meet the demands, then a resolution to enforce compliance would be sought at the U.N. Security Council, Kerry said. The action could include sanctions, and Kerry said that the U.S. would reserve the right to use military force, but Russia remains opposed to any armed intervention." President Obama said, "The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere. We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children."

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256 comments

I still want... (4, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#44850519)

...someone to explain to me why killing people with chemical weapons is somehow worse than killing them with bullets.

Re:I still want... (2, Insightful)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 10 months ago | (#44850581)

Chemical weapons still kill weeks or more after they have been deployed. Bullets and Explosives only kill in that instant.

Re:I still want... (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#44850621)

Bombs left over from WWII are still killing people.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1283273/WW2-bomb-kills-G-ttingen-experts-attempt-defuse-it.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Legislation (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 10 months ago | (#44850653)

Kills whole economies

Re:I still want... (3, Informative)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 10 months ago | (#44850781)

There is a huge difference between an overconfident bomb disposal technician making a mistake when handling decades old abandoned munitions and active use of chemical weapons.

For starters, when you are actively screwing around with something the fact that it was assembled decades before is irrelevant to it's current threat. Current attempts to thwart a triggering mechanism generates risk of detonation whether said explosive was assembled days before or decades before. Both can explode in an instant killing whomever happens to be within the blast radius.

In the case of chemical weapons, months after an attack someone a few villages away can drink the water from their local well, contract a horrible disease and die.

Re:I still want... (4, Informative)

khasim (1285) | about 10 months ago | (#44850885)

In the case of chemical weapons, months after an attack someone a few villages away can drink the water from their local well, contract a horrible disease and die.

I think you're talking about bio weapons.

Most chemical weapons degrade quickly. Even the "persistent" ones.

Re: I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851243)

Like VX?

Re:I still want... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850783)

So? Clusterbombs kill and maim for decades after they are deployed. You don't hear about the US going on about how awful they are, do you? In fact, the US is real big on them [defense.gov] :

Textron Defense Systems, Wilmington, Mass., has been awarded a $640,786,442 modification (PZ00001) to a firm-fixed-price contract (FA8213-12-C-0064) for 1,300 cluster bomb units. Work will be performed at Wilmington, Mass., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2015. This contract involves foreign military sales (FMS) for Saudi Arabia. FMS funds in the amount of $410,218,248 are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/OO-ALC/EBHKA, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity.

Re:I still want... (4, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 10 months ago | (#44850823)

Chemical weapons still kill weeks or more after they have been deployed.

Depends on the particular chemicals.

VX can kill years after it's used if someone touches something that was exposed to VX and hasn't since had the residue washed away.

Sarin, not so much.

Mustard gas is just fertilizer after a few hours.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850591)

You die faster from a bullet (usually, anyway). Technically that makes death by a bullet less agonizing and more humane.

Re:I still want... (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about 10 months ago | (#44850661)

Depends on where it hits.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850787)

it doesn't depend on where the chemical weapons hit.
It doesn't matter what the chemical weapon's target is.
Anyway the wind blows, it doesn't really matter to me.

To me.

Re:I still want... (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#44850593)

That is what the father of chemical warfare, Fritz Haber, thought as well.

After the effects of chemical warfare became apparent during WWI, his wife and son committed suicide over the shame of their husband and father's work on poison gasses.

One thing is certain, that poison gas is much harder to deliver in a controlled fashion than are bombs. Perhaps just on that basis it should be banned.

Re:I still want... (1)

Msupp (3084967) | about 10 months ago | (#44850875)

Fair enough, I don't think anyone is calling for chemical weapons to be allowed. But the question that still hasn't been properly answered (at least in my opinion) is why the use of these weapons on a small number of victims relative to the total number killed in the conflict should suddenly lead the international community to "need to act". Its all a horrifying situation what's going on in Syria, but at this point intervention seems too little too late, and looks an awful lot like Obama is just trying to cover his ass after laying down so-called "red lines".

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850943)

First of all, turn in your nerd card -- Haber was a close associate of Einstein for a long time, so any detailed biography will cover info of both. It's actually a fascinating story.

As for chemical weapons, the red lines of the world aren't meant to stop horrible things from happening. If you watched, heard, read, or caught snippets of Obama's speech the other night, you'd have caught an important part -- there is a fear that if chemical weapon use is not dealt with, then it could once again be tolerated, and then American troops or civilians could be facing it again. Unlike nuclear weapons, chemical weapons are cheap, so just about anyone can put them together.

So why would the US and Russia collaborate on getting rid of chemical weapons? Because the big boys only want each other to be able to beat each other up. Can't have just and Tom, Dick, and Harry running around able to do that. Even if it were not wrong because it is horrific, it is the slippery slope to WWIII.

Re:I still want... (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#44850947)

Not acting would be pretty inconsistent with the idea of not allowing their use.

Whether Obama looks good or bad is irrelevant bullshit. In the end trying a diplomatic approach first is a win for Obama, Putin, and the human race as a whole.

That's what really counts.

Re:I still want... (2)

khasim (1285) | about 10 months ago | (#44850955)

But the question that still hasn't been properly answered (at least in my opinion) is why the use of these weapons on a small number of victims relative to the total number killed in the conflict should suddenly lead the international community to "need to act".

Seconded.

I understand the concept in a battle between nations. It takes a lot of chemical agent to kill someone (dispersed through the air). But it does not take much to cause life-long problems. Like blindness or breathing issues or nerve damage. So using them on an enemy nation means that that nation will take longer to recover from the war. Their former troops will not be able to return to their pre-war jobs.

Now you can apply that same reasoning to insurgents in this case. But it is only their own future that they're wrecking. And they were on course to do that any way. Killing 100,000 is okay but killing 1,000 is unacceptable.

Re:I still want... (0)

peragrin (659227) | about 10 months ago | (#44850989)

well duh that is exactly what is going on. thankfully Vladamir Putin Romanov stole the limelight.

The USA and more importantly it;s politicians need to understand the USA is no longer the center of the world. We can no longer afford to police the world as it is bankrupting us. Let someone else do it for a while, and when things go to shit (and they will) people will look to the USA with need and understanding that keeping the world stable sucks.

Personally I also say let iran have nuclear weapons. The Ayatollah is stupid enough to use them, but smart enough to realize attacking Isreal with them is stupid. Instead he will go after the true threats to him and force the other Islamic countries to kneel to him as their leader. He will use those weapons on Muslims who don't kneel before him.

Re:I still want... (1)

bossk538 (1682744) | about 10 months ago | (#44851277)

I could either mod you down, or stay on to say you are a major asshole. You really advocate Iran getting nuclear weapons in hopes that a nuclear war gets started? Fuck you.

Re:I still want... (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about 10 months ago | (#44851081)

But the question that still hasn't been properly answered (at least in my opinion) is why the use of these weapons on a small number of victims relative to the total number killed in the conflict should suddenly lead the international community to "need to act".

The bullets are being fired at (presumably) chosen targets who are fighting back. The chemical weapons aren't so precise (at least one hopes they weren't fired to deliberately kill massive numbers of non-combatants).

To de-politicize it, it's the distinction between two people trying to kill each other by firing guns at each other, and maybe a civilian gets hit in the crossfire. Versus someone spraying his gun indiscriminately into a crowd of civilians in hopes of hitting the one guy he wants to kill in the crowd. I'm not saying this is sufficient to justify international intervention, but it should be clear the latter is higher up on the "wrongness" scale.

If two people (or two groups of people) want to kill each other, there is generally not much the international community can do about it. They can try to broker a peace, but whether or not the conflict persists is ultimately up to the two parties at each others' throats. If they really want to kill each other, they're going to figure out a way to do it regardless of what the international community says or does. The best we can do is try to reduce the possibility of people who are not part of those groups being caught in the crossfire. Due to the indiscriminate and uncontrollable nature, chemical weapons represent a huge increase in the amount and scope of the crossfire.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850595)

Because with bullets, you can still pretend it was an accident while trying to kill an enemy. Chemical weapons are indiscriminate in their most effective aspect and you can't pretend the innocent lives weren't targeted.

It's all a shell game. The clown in chief made a comment and found his foot in his mouth. After mishandling the situations, the Russians came to the rescue making lemonade out of the secretary of state's joking response and basically bitch-slapped the US.

For all those concerned, the administration and the clowns under him will be replaced in about three years. We will find a real president soon so keep that in mind (I'm talking to you Putin, Assad and Rouhani). Don't break the foundations of a bridge so that one can never be rebuilt again.

Re:I still want... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850929)

I wish we could get a real President. Shrub turned the US from a respected country to one reviled the world over because of invading a a country without provocation, killing its leadership, and letting it turn into a place of chaos. Because of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, no American prisoner will be treated humanely in future wars.

Of course, Obama got handed a pile of shit when he got in office in '09. The taxpayers bailed out the banks, and the banks immediately started moving their money overseas. Oil has kept the growth of the economy to a very limited amount. Hell, we have not even gotten back to the state of the economy we had in the first part of 2008. The stock market is high because of offshoring and moving business functions to China, as opposed to actually producing things.

Not to say that Obama is that much better. He has done little to help anti-US sentiment (look on Slashdot, virtually any article will have hundreds of posts detailing the hatred of US citizens/residents so one can use this site as a litmus test.) He has set a precedent that the whole government has to given in to the extreme right every six months with concessions like the sequester.

This precedent will be almost impossible to break by a successor unless there is a radical "throw the bums out" movement in Congress... which likely will bring in more people from the extreme right who show their true colors (the guy who said that a mother with hungry kids was a "learning experience" for example.)

Dim times for the US ahead.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850613)

gaz doesn't aim.

Re:I still want... (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 10 months ago | (#44850657)

Watch a video of sarin exposure and you'll understand. It's particularly nasty.

Re:I still want... (2)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#44850673)

Indeed, "the use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity" could be reworded as "the use of deadly weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity" without really changing the meaning—what do I care if you kill me with a sword or with poison gas? I don't want you to kill me with either. That's what an affront to human dignity is in this context.

So the reason for focusing on chemical weapons is that we aren't ready to have that conversation about, say, guns. Which is of course totally ridiculous.

Re:I still want... (5, Insightful)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 10 months ago | (#44850877)

I used to teach NBC (Now known as CBRN) warfare and survival when I was in the army.

As bad as any unreasonable killing can be, seeing someone or something suffer and die from exposure to chemical weapons is far more horrific imo. I'm sure there are videos floating around of animals being hit with these things. Watch some, then picture the same thing but with a human being. Chemical and biological weaponry simply has no place in any reasonable arsenal. A being shot or stabbed often kills within seconds and leaving the victim unaware of what has happened.

Being caught in a chemical weapons strike? Well, just watch those vids. I'm talking almost total agony for the last few minutes of your life, post exposure to any one of the various chemical agents used in chemical warfare. Ever had lockjaw or one of your muscles start contracting painfully and uncontrollably? Just imagine having that happen to every single muscle fiber in your body, leaving you writhing in the street covered in your own bodily fluids as you've lost control of bowel function and gasping for air as your lungs have stopped working due to the brain and nerve cells going haywire due to the nerve agent you just got hit with.

That's just a nerve agent. There's a variety of different substances out there, each one designed to have different effects on the human body. Blister agents (which cause just that, extreme blistering on every organic surface it comes accross, including the insides of your lungs), blood agents (destroys or otherwise disables the haemoglobin in your blood), the various nerve agents (G nerve, H nerve, which cause random junk signals to be passed down your nerves, sending muscles crazy and destroying and sort of control either concious or subconcious).

I hate that stuff. It's unpleasent just to even think of it. It's even more unpleasant to realise that these agents can linger in the environment and remain deadly for far longer than any land mine or shell or bomb. "Think of the children?" is quite appropriate here. I wouldn't want my kids to grow up, knowing that that shit was still around.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850685)

Because bullets can be aimed, chemical weapons cannot.

Its the same idea as the "nuclear genie". They let the "chemical genie" out of the bottle during WWI and returning soldiers raised hell about the fact that mustard gas clouds from their own artillery blew back into their faces. They let the "chemical genie" out of the bottle again during WWII and people (rightfully) argued that less people would have died if the Nazis were forced to use bullets instead of chemical weapons.

Re:I still want... (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about 10 months ago | (#44850719)

It isn't. Thou shall not kill. I don't see any clauses or conditions on that law. Next post please.

Re:I still want... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850771)

It might technically be an appeal to tradition but here goes:

The people who survived WWI; the ones who saw close range trench warfare with stabbing of the enemy, shelling of trenches, pointless charges over no-man's-land to get cut down by machine guns, gangrene, and hearing the screams of people dying slowing in no-man's-land - those are the people who said that chemical weapons cross the line.

Re:I still want... (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 10 months ago | (#44850777)

In world war I gas killed almost the whole British army in about an hour. Bullets killed 100,000 in 2 years while 1400 were killed in an hour including 300 children. If used continuiosly a 100,000 could happen easily within a few hours. Same with nuclear. I could argue more died from bullets than nuclear bombs therefore who cares about nuclear war. Doesnt mean its not more dangerous and deadly.

The idea here is to avoid repeating history as chemical weapons will be the norm as nothing will ever happen if you use them right? The death toll would be tens of millions instead if used from the start

Re:I still want... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 10 months ago | (#44850847)

>> In world war I gas killed almost the whole British army in about an hour.

This sounds highly unlikely. Reference please.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850785)

After the two world wars in Europe, the international community succeeded in establishing agreement that some tactics were out of bounds, even in war. Chemical and biological warfare were at the top of the list because they can wipe out much of the population of a region, not just soldiers and some civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

Re:I still want... (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | about 10 months ago | (#44850829)

I've thought about this quite a bit over the last weeks and came up with 3 different possibilities:
1) More "humane" since bullets kill faster.
2) Survival of the fittest helps evolution a little bit since soldiers who know how to duck get to go home and have babies. (Some military guys might think this way, what the heck do I know?)
3) Chemical weapons might be a gateway weapon to germ warfare, which could wipe out a pretty large chunk of humanity.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850951)

Bhopal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850973)

Here is one example why:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851029)

Chemical weapons are so horrendous that the Nazis did not use it on the battlefield. I can think of nothing to add to that.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851155)

Chemical weapons are the poor man's nukes. There is no useful defense against them, for the troops of the ground or the civilian population at large. The only defense is not being there. And that is the nature of war. Chemical weapons only make it undeniable. War is not fought for nations, civilizations or ideas, it's fought for those who control the power agenda.

You can sense the truth of this in president Obama's use of language. He's usually fairly eloquent, but not when he describes the nature of this conundrum. How do you describe any of what is happening in the middle east as legitimate when you are talking about defending geopolitical boundaries created by the British and French in order to steal resources at the expense of, "the natives?"

When did the laws or rules of war or the Geneva Conventions become, "norms," when people without a state could get their hands on weapons that no one can control? Or was it when instantaneous global communications made it impossible for governments to hide their own calculated atrocities?

If Kissinger were dead, he'd be rolling in his grave.

Re:I still want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851239)

If Kissinger were dead, he'd be rolling in his grave.

Kissinger is alive, and stands by Obama's position, actually.

Re:I still want... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 10 months ago | (#44851237)

Chemicals can and do kill many more in one shot, is far far worse, is less discriminatory, and finally, will lead to the use of the worst: biologicals.
BTW, I have seen ppl die from bullets, and I have worked with Sarin, so have watched rabbits die from it. I will take a bullet over the gas.

Re:I still want... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#44851321)

Perform the experiment. Expose yourself to both, and report back here with the results.

Affront to human dignity (1)

shiftless (410350) | about 10 months ago | (#44850537)

Yeah the use of chemical weapons is an affront to human dignity....but blowing people up with bombs and bullets, eating their hearts, burying them alive, etc isn't. That's why for two years the war in Syria has just been a sad affair, but now it's an absolute necessity for us to send our own kids in there to get blown up and killed......for the kids, of course!

So what about US chemical weapons crimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850543)

Will Obama now bring those Americans reponsible for use of chemical weapons in South East Asia to justice?
Somehow, I doubt it. Human rights are only a problem, when the country allegedly committing the violations, is not subservient to American interests.

Distraction (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 10 months ago | (#44850915)

No, thanks.

Resorting to Nonviolence (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 10 months ago | (#44850553)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on a plan for removing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

I don't understand why we have to resort to reasonable non-violent solutions when we had a perfectly good rash hotheaded answer in bombing the bejeezus out of them. When will we stop the sanity?!?

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (3, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#44850623)

We weren't planning on bombing the bejeezus out of them. We were planning on something unbelievably small.

Yes, you heard me right. This isn't just echos from your first real date, Kerry said our bombing was going to be unbelievably small.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850647)

The US has been known to launch an entire drone/bomb to take out one person or a small group of people.

If that isn't overkill and "bombing the bejeezus out of them", I don't know what is.

The US is not exactly known for subtlety.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#44850693)

Sorry, but drone/bomb comes in integer values only. You can't launch 0.35 drone/bomb.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850895)

Which is precisely the point. Tomahawks and such are serious overkill for assassinations.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851005)

Yeah, but drone snipers require lower video latency.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851093)

There are many variety of Tomahawks.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851111)

You kind of can if the 1.0 value it defined a specific yield.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 10 months ago | (#44850715)

"Small", and completely useless.
"Yo, Assad...we're going to blow up some of your stuff in 3 weeks." Launch, and destroy some runways and now empty buildings.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (2)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#44850689)

Oh, don't worry, I'm sure they'll find some other way to enrich our military-industrial complex.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850803)

Who the fark cares, let them have their civil war.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (5, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | about 10 months ago | (#44850923)

Nuke, napalm, depleted uranium, drones = ok.

Chemical = not ok.

Torture = Depends on who's doing it.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 10 months ago | (#44850939)

It of course always matter who's doing it.

Same goes for cyber warfare.

Re:Resorting to Nonviolence (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#44850961)

"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"

Sigh... if only we had a man like Zapp. We'd send in 100,000 of our best men. They'd all die horribly and we wouldn't fix the problem. They'd all be heroes.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851257)

for removing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

They are going to drop them on Iran

Unrealistic expectations (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850583)

I dare the US, Russia, Canada, the UK, or any other nation to try to get an accurate inventory out of their militaries in only a week.

Furthermore, the US has been working on destroying their chemical weapons for THIRTY YEARS. They're still talking several more years to dispose of roughly the same amount as Syria has, with the destruction plants pretty much already built.

This agreement seems to be set up to fail. I realize some sort of numbers and deadlines had to be put out there, but I guarantee they won't be meeting this schedule.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (3, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#44850651)

This agreement seems to be set up to fail. I realize some sort of numbers and deadlines had to be put out there, but I guarantee they won't be meeting this schedule.

Eliminated likely doesn't mean destroyed or disposed of, but eliminated from Syria and Assad's control.

I suspect that Russia will place troops at the chemical weapon's sites to protect them and the UN inspectors and monitors. This will free up a small but significant amounts of Assad's forces to combat the rebels. It is as if Russia created a way for it to intervene on Assad's side at the request of the west.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 10 months ago | (#44850659)

Oh it's pretty easy for us up here in Canada, it's even public knowledge.

Navy: 2 battle canoes, equipped with M34 beavers. And two rusted submarines.
Airforce: 3 men and a hang glider.
Army: 260 strong, 35 guns, no bullets.

Jokingly aside, it wasn't all that many years ago that "live" fire training on Canadian military bases revolved around yelling "bang." I wish I was kidding.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#44850709)

That's not really the point, though. The point is that a year from now, when that comes up, if progress has been made they can say "look, progress is being made, we don't actually have to bomb Syria" and thereby save face. Or if they want a pretext to bomb Syria, even if progress has been made, they can say "to little, too late" and go ahead with the bombing. The main focus here is on kicking the can down the road. I'd much prefer a rational assessment of the situation, and a constructive solution to the problem, but inaction is better than stupid action.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850739)

Or in a month they'll scream that progress isn't being made and use it as an excuse to go ahead with the bombings.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#44850997)

I think that will mostly depend on if Assad is winning or losing his civil war.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850761)

Only they'll be "justified" in bombing after Syria "fails to meet their commitments".

Or so they'll spin it, ignoring the fact that no one could meet the schedule that's been set.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44850815)

While you have a good point, you have to understand that this whole project is the ultimate kludge. We do what we must because we can.

1 - If / When it doesn't work, you now have a reason to go beat up Assad in whatever form you think you can get away with. It's almost as good as a UN resolution, perhaps better because Russia is behind it.

2 - It puts foreign, armed boots on the ground. And not little pansy assed blue helmets. Nasty troops with the appropriate backup. Now, this can backfire (as can anything else here) by having lots of Russian boots that act as a deterrent to the rebels but if you have both US and Russian inspectors on the ground, you will likely have both countries represented. The implied command and control needed for that can really stabilize the situation since neither country wants things to accelerate.

3 - You have the chance of getting the vast majority of the stocks out off the underground arms bazaar. This is the problem with Assad's chemical weapons. When he loses control over them (and apparently he has) you have all the nasties trying to get some. Sarin is a wonderful terrorist device. In some ways better than a nuc.

The world has apparently dodged a bullet with the USSR nuclear stockpile - it didn't get handed out to everyone with an agenda and a budget. We need to do the same for idiot Assad's chemical weapons. Unfortunately, the parallels between Irag and Syria are way too close for comfort. While Assad might not be as batshit insane as Hussein was, he's not all that far off. We don't have all that much freedom of movement in the Middle East and Russia has a bit more. For once, our interests are aligned a bit.

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44850869)

Even if I had mod points I couldn't mod you up because I've already commented, but I would if I could. :)

Re:Unrealistic expectations (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | about 10 months ago | (#44851307)

Yeah, but all this is going to happen in the middle of a civil war? All the Al Qaeda types are just going to sit back and watch the Russian troops show up and take their positions? And once the troops are in place, won't everyone know where the chemical (and I have read, biological) weapons are? Are they going to build specialized (and vulnerable) incinerators to destroy them, or load them onto convoys of trucks and take them to ships on the coast while everyone watches peacefully?

This plan seems "impractical," to say the least.

use drones instead! (1)

fredan (54788) | about 10 months ago | (#44850589)

to kill children with and you are ok!

one question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850607)

where did they get the chemical weapons from?

Re:one question (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 10 months ago | (#44850683)

Any entry level chemist and minimal funding can make several flavors of nasty agents, including the sarin they are discussing.

Heck some cults have done it in the past, and used them, I just can't for the life of me remember their name(s) at the moment.

Re:one question (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44850819)

But getting them into field proven artillery shells, ones in use all over the planet is a new thing. And something the Syrians have managed to do.

Also, scale matters....

Re:one question (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#44851121)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aum_Shinrikyo [wikipedia.org]

I think there was another or two.

The process that seems to be difficult isn't creating the gas but increasing it's purity in a binary precursor solution so the agents don't degrade and become useless when needed. Another problem is mixing them upon delivery. Artillery shells generally have a glass like divider between two chemicals that will break when being fired and mix due to the rotation of the shells as they fly through the air. This also makes accidents with the weapons limited on damage and keeps them safe for storage and transportation. It also makes them ineffective delivery systems for IEDs like we found out in Iraq circa 2004 when insurgents used an 155mm sarin gas shell to blow up a convoy. Only two or three US soldiers got exposed and it was minimal exposure requiring little treatment.

Re:one question (1)

dmpot (1708950) | about 10 months ago | (#44851379)

Heck some cults have done it in the past, and used them, I just can't for the life of me remember their name(s) at the moment.

I guess you mean Aum Shinrikyo. They released sarin in five coordinated attacks on the Tokyo subway at the peak of the rush hour. As result, 13 people died and about 50 people were severly injured. The death toll was not as high as one might expect because of impurity, which caused its quick degradation.

To kill over 1400 people over a large area of open air requires completely different expertise in chemical weaponry and much larger amount of the nerve gas.

Re:one question (1)

BaronM (122102) | about 10 months ago | (#44850813)

Some chemical weapons have significant commercial uses -- chlorine, phosgene, even nerve agents as pesticides (sarin is an organophosphate, just like common insecticides). Any nation with a reasonably competent chemical industry can turn the stuff out in lots.

References:
http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/phosgene-market.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organophosphate_compound

Unlike fissionables, biological weapons, or even sophisticated conventional arms, pretty much any nation with a university and few bucks can produce and weaponize chemicals. Doing it on a massive scale and producing weapons that are useful on a battlefield against prepared soldiers is much harder, enough so that most nations consider it not worth the bother.

How many *years* will this take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850631)

Obama got rolled here. He went from treatening immediate military action to talking about it in front of the UN.

Re:How many *years* will this take? (3, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#44850733)

When someone points a gun at you and threatens to kill you, and someone else points a gun at them and says "look, you can kill that guy, but I'll kill you," that's not getting rolled. That's getting stopped. Getting rolled is when they take something from you while you're sleeping. Here, nothing was taken other than the opportunity to buy some new tomahawk missiles. Effectively, Putin saved the American taxpayers from getting rolled.

Good outcome (1)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#44850635)

This is a reasonably good outcome. Yes, it increases Russian influence in the Middle East, but so what? The U.S. now imports 36% of the oil it uses, down from 60% in 2006. The Middle East is losing its strategic importance to the US.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850691)

This is a reasonably good outcome. Yes, it increases Russian influence in the Middle East, but so what? The U.S. now imports 36% of the oil it uses, down from 60% in 2006. The Middle East is losing its strategic importance to the US.

ROFLMAO at you for thinking that.

Syria just got away with using nerve gas on their own civilian population - which will encourage other nations to obtain and use such weapons.

Oh, but they're going to have to give them up? Yeah, really? Like when? After all the stalling and negotiating? Hell, maybe they do give up some or even all of their current stockpile of chemical weapons. Then they just turn around and make more.

Spin it all you want - Obama totally fucked this one up.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850735)

Spin it all you want - Obama totally fucked this one up

What is your policy recommendation?

Re:Good outcome (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44850881)

This is a reasonably good outcome. Yes, it increases Russian influence in the Middle East, but so what? The U.S. now imports 36% of the oil it uses, down from 60% in 2006. The Middle East is losing its strategic importance to the US.

ROFLMAO at you for thinking that.

Syria just got away with using nerve gas on their own civilian population - which will encourage other nations to obtain and use such weapons.

Really? And be invaded by Russian and US inspectors? So far, Assad has gotten away with nothing. No deals, no ifs ands or buts. Sure, he's trying - you expect that, but the Russians aren't terribly happy with their idiot friend - having him there is a good foil for Russian's' interests but having him further destabilize the region is not. So, who is next? North Korea? New Jersey?

Oh, but they're going to have to give them up? Yeah, really? Like when? After all the stalling and negotiating? Hell, maybe they do give up some or even all of their current stockpile of chemical weapons. Then they just turn around and make more.

Spin it all you want - Obama totally fucked this one up.

See above. Yes, Obama's foreign policy has the grace of a drunken sailor but sometimes you get lucky. You're dribbling on your bib again. It's not pretty.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850911)

This is a reasonably good outcome. Yes, it increases Russian influence in the Middle East, but so what? The U.S. now imports 36% of the oil it uses, down from 60% in 2006. The Middle East is losing its strategic importance to the US.

ROFLMAO at you for thinking that.

Syria just got away with using nerve gas on their own civilian population - which will encourage other nations to obtain and use such weapons.

Really? And be invaded by Russian and US inspectors? So far, Assad has gotten away with nothing. ...

NOTHING has happened to Assad. that's the DEFINITION of getting away with something.

Re:Good outcome (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#44851017)

And nothing was going to happen to Assad. They were going to bomb the military and innocent civilians, not assassinate Assad.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851171)

And nothing was going to happen to Assad. They were going to bomb the military and innocent civilians, not assassinate Assad.

Umm, no. An attack on the Syrian military, no matter how small, while not directly against Assad does impact their future support of him were he to decide to try gassing civilians again.

It also deters to other nations from trying the same.

Especially after Obama called the use of chemical weapons a "red line" that would generate a direct US response. Obama's statements are useless now. In international relations he's no longer just a lame duck, he's a Thalidomide duck.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850977)

Oh, but they're going to have to give them up? Yeah, really? Like when? After all the stalling and negotiating? Hell, maybe they do give up some or even all of their current stockpile of chemical weapons. Then they just turn around and make more.

Spin it all you want - Obama totally fucked this one up.

Yes, they're going to have to give them up. Yeah, really. Like by mid-2014. And yes, that happened after stalling and negotiating.

Re:Good outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850753)

As long as the middle east and oil keep using the petrodollar and doesn't switch to some other currency [wikipedia.org] .

nope (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 10 months ago | (#44851115)

Nope. The United States' strategy is to control OTHER country's oil imports. The United States only imports a small amount of its oil from the Middle East.

Re:Good outcome (1)

gtall (79522) | about 10 months ago | (#44851293)

"increases Russian influence in the Middle East"? Syria is a failed state, now it will become Russia's tar baby because those Sunni rebels and their Arab backers aren't going to give up. And Russia just managed to piss off all the Sunni regimes in the Mid-East. The only group they look like they have a big dick to is Iran, but they aren't technically in the mid-east. This doesn't change their relationship at all.

Syria CW Elimination Modalities (3, Informative)

auric_dude (610172) | about 10 months ago | (#44850645)

Jeffrey Lewis over at Arms Control Wonk give some thoughts about the nuts and bolts of eliminating Syria's chemical weapons, the link is a few days old but I expect us still valid http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/6807/syria-cw-elimination-modalities [armscontrolwonk.com]

Adroitly navigated by Obama and Kerry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850663)

It's hard to imagine that either a hardline (McCain/Bush) or isolationist (Rand Paul) approach would have worked as well for US interests as what the administration came up with. The fact that Putin was the one who came up with the proposal was not lucky or accidental at all - the US and Russia in fact have some interests in common in the Middle East.

Yes, the caveat is, "so far". We'll all see what happens next.

Re:Adroitly navigated by Obama and Kerry (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#44850827)

The 'proposal' was Kerry's. Russia and Syria said, "Let's go for it". I'm only wondering if that response was expected or not.

It's not about the weapon (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#44850679)

It's about the shooter and the target, the same way terrorism is defined. *Point the gun the other way, and be my friend*

What was the goal again? (2)

crgrace (220738) | about 10 months ago | (#44850729)

I thought the US Administration's goal was to punish Assad for the large-scale use of chemical weapons with a "limited" military strike. How exactly does destroying the weapons count as punishment?

It's a bit like me turning in my guns to the cops if I commit a murder and that being the end of it.

It almost makes one think that this is really about Obama saving face for making a stupid comment about a "red line". Was Obama prepared to kill more innocent people in an ineffectual missile strike to save face? Now the Russians have given him an out are we not going to punish Syria after all? Hypocrisy?

Re:What was the goal again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851141)

Didn't you know? Obama is so weak Putin is now president of the US. He demanded Congress hold no vote on attacking Syria, and Congress complyed. Putin has more success in getting Congress to do what he wants than Obama does.

Maybe we could convince Putin to get our Congress to start fixing other issues as well that Obama can't seem to do.

Putin 2016!

Re:What was the goal again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851235)

I thought the US Administration's goal was to punish Assad for the large-scale use of chemical weapons with a "limited" military strike. How exactly does destroying the weapons count as punishment?

It's a bit like me turning in my guns to the cops if I commit a murder and that being the end of it.

It almost makes one think that this is really about Obama saving face for making a stupid comment about a "red line". Was Obama prepared to kill more innocent people in an ineffectual missile strike to save face? Now the Russians have given him an out are we not going to punish Syria after all? Hypocrisy?

The goal was never "punishment". Assad is not a sixth grader, and Obama is not his teacher. The goal was to stop (or discourage) Assad's regime from using chemical weapon attacks in the future. Dismantling the chemical weapons is a much more effective way of doing this than shooting cruise missiles randomly.

Re:What was the goal again? (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 10 months ago | (#44851269)

I agree with you. My post was sarcastic. If you look at Obama and Kerry's quotes over the last few weeks, punishment certainly is what they were selling. They don't have the capability to stop Assad from using chemical weapons without a very extensive strike, which they were claiming was not planned.

The USA doesn't have much credibility regarding chemical weapons, especially given the actions of the USA towards Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.

Re:What was the goal again? (-1, Flamebait)

sumdumass (711423) | about 10 months ago | (#44851369)

I thought the US Administration's goal was to punish Assad for the large-scale use of chemical weapons with a "limited" military strike. How exactly does destroying the weapons count as punishment?

You are missing that Russia is pretty much guaranteeing that other countries won't invade Syria directly now so he won't even need the chemical weapons. Such irony, Obama forces Assad to give up what was preventing other countries from invading and in the process replaced it with something much more threatening.

It almost makes one think that this is really about Obama saving face for making a stupid comment about a "red line". Was Obama prepared to kill more innocent people in an ineffectual missile strike to save face? Now the Russians have given him an out are we not going to punish Syria after all? Hypocrisy?

It was and is. The liberal political policy in the US is largely based on emotion with little reason not connected directly to emotion. That's why disagreeing with it means you are a Racist, Misogynist, conducting a War On Women, or whatever form of "evil" conjecture they can come up with (not that the right is much different or anything).

Ask yourself something if you doubt this was about saving face. Any other previous president would have taken some action if they felt it was so bad and discussed it with congress silently before announcing it to the Americans people. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya for sponsoring the terrorist attack on PanAm flight 103. He did it with contacting a few congress critters then told the American people about it. Jimmy Carter, attempted an assault in Iran in order to get our hostages back (even though it failed, he didn't discuss it until after), Bill Clinton bombed several places in response to direct terrorist attacks (even though we acted like it was wag the dog time to distract from his domestic problems), and discussed it afterwords.

But with this Syria BS, Obama sent his entire Cabinet out stating he was going to make a decision. He had them talk tough about what they were going to do then like the moment you find out the hot girl you have been fantasizing about at the end of the bar is really a guy, everything fizzles into a mess with no intent on doing what you originally intended.

Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44850841)

The hypocrisy of the US and rest of the Western countries (including Israel) with regard to WMD's just makes me gag.

What about the rebels? (1)

johanw (1001493) | about 10 months ago | (#44851271)

They seem to have chemical weapons too. They should be disarmed from them as well.

To me, this plan looks like a setup to disarm Syria to prevent it from attacking Israel or US invasion troops when (not if) they declare he has not cooperated enough. The same happened with the UN inspectors in Iraq, it didn't matter what they reported they just were there as an excuse to start the attack.

The US has not even declared war with Syria. Seems they learned the lesson Japan gave them in 1941 about the effectiveness of sneak attacks well.

What if China policed the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44851333)

If China not the US policed the world then the US would have been threatened with bombings and had to have it's chemical aresenal destroyed when it used gas on it's citizens at WACO.

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