By Tom Blackwell
August 30, 2013
In little more than two years, the Syrian civil war has distinguished itself as a particularly vicious conflict.
The United Nations estimates conservatively that more than 100,000 people have died, including thousands of women and children, with civilians often directly targeted or killed in indiscriminate assaults.
The Assad regime has deployed an array of nasty weapons, from cluster bombs to napalm-like incendiary devices and thermobaric explosives, whose blast of pressure and heat incinerates anyone at the impact site — and vacuums the air out of the lungs of people nearby.
Yet it was a singular event just last week that rallied the West into its most concerted response yet to the hostilities. Only after the Aug. 21 attack with suspected nerve gas, killing an estimated 350 to 1,400 men, women and children, did the U.S. and others talk seriously — for better or worse — of military intervention.
The reaction reflects a long-held view of chemical weapons as an essentially immoral way to wage war, with efforts to ban them internationally being made as long ago as the 19th century and President Barack Obama declaring their use his “red line” in Syria.
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