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21 August 2013

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Yohan

The Syrian government is clearly winning and on a course to total victory. Thus, it makes absolutely no sense for them to be using chemical weapons now, when the only possibility of defeat would come from direct western military intervention. Combined with the UN team's recent entry into the country, it seems highly likely this was a rebel action.

Fred

General Dempsey again showing again he's the best JCS chairman we've had in some time:

http://news.yahoo.com/dempsey-syrian-rebels-wouldnt-back-us-interests-070802647.html

Lamoe2012

Either somebody over played their hand or somebody has been criminally stupid, or both.

Matthew

Col: Can the UN tell if the weapons used were of the same "batch" as those contained in the rebel chemical weapons warehouse uncovered by the Syrian government recently?

turcopolier

Matthew

some chemical person here will have to say. pl

Charles I

The mission is only tasked to determine if CW was used, not who used them.

Babak Makkinejad

IN principle "yes" if you can run samples through very precise spectrometeres.

But it is easy to fool the machines by deliberately introducing inert impurities that changes the signature signals coming out of the spectrometer.

Bill H

Perhaps the more militarily minded can shed light on the claim made by Juan Cole at Informed Comment that "the Syrian army has shrunk through Sunni desertions to a shadow of its former self and so can’t control the whole country any more," and that, "Weakened armies facing a demographically larger foe often resort to unconventional armaments." He seems to have lost a bit of objectivity in his zeal to overthrow dictators wherever they are found, because that rhetoric seems at odds with most of what I read elsewhere.

turcopolier

BillH

Cole is wrong. pl

confusedponderer

I recall how during NBC recce training we were shown how sensitive even the now long obsolete gear was that we used. I'll forever remember the eerie sound of the Geiger counter crackling in my earpiece.

We had indicator class tubes to check air samples for chemical weapons. They were sensitive enough to indicate the cyanide out of cigarette smoke. I was impressed.

Now, on second thought, of course, such sensitivity invites people who are so inclined to play the measurement gear and tamper with samples, just as we sort of did during that demonstration.

The Syrian rebels are apparently such people.

On an only slightly related note: One of the Lockerbie naratives tells of Israelis planting an emitter in Libya to broadcast a message that the US were meant to intercept from Libya. I don't think that the Israelis are beyond such foul play, though I can't know whether any of that is true.

Disturbing thought also about what hacking allows as far as planting evidence is concerned.

Al Arabist

I totally agree with you Bill H. Pl is right measured by what local people say. Whatever "diminishing" is not meaningful on the ground.

Al Arabist

Specifically Syria is not fitting Cole's format of Revolution. Any aid worker from any country gets it more than him. Dozens of fighting groups and the wind blowing nasty chemicals around the capital. Aren't the militia's outside sponsors directly responsible for use of chemical weapons? Not just Cole but RT is losing the thread too, increasingly irrelevant to what's happening on the ground. Civilians are not overly concerned with use of chemical weapons when they feel like they're already in no man's land...

William R. Cumming

CP! Dosimetry not Geiger Counters is what troops need in the field.

rick

THIS is a tale told by a fool to an intended audience of fools.

But alas, the American people are victims of their media in the same way as they are victims of their politics. If only there was some way Americans could have some influence in these matters.

(Let me just say, I have said this in dripping sarcasm and had fellow citizens commiserate me gravely and agree with me that it is hopeless. One nice lady suggested opinion surveys...when I suggested that maybe all those surveys could be done on the same day nationwide, she was jazzed, we had really come up with something.)

confusedponderer

We had dosimeters too, but they didn't crackle. The didn't make a sound in fact and in comparison they were very mundane things to a 19 year old.

What we were given the Geiger counters for was to avoid 'hot spots', make radiation maps for the unit and mark no go areas.

Didn't particularly like that, since the farther away you stay from radioactive hot spots the better for you. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but iirc the calculation goes like that: Double the distance to the radiation source and you'll receive a quarter of the dose i.e. there is wisdom in mounting your Geiger counter on a broomstick.

CK

The Colonel has asked two questions. Yes.
Which third party benefited by the deaths?

MartinJ

The proof would be in the remnants of the delivery system and to match batch numbers and markings on the munitions. It appears that the munitions used were improvised, however, making any sound conclusion almost impossible other than they would be the same agent. As Babak says, running compounds collected at the scene are problematic because of the amount of impurities around in the soil etc.

Alba Etie

Do you really believe that the American electorate would allow an American military misadventure in an election year ? Especially after we have all the 'strategerry ' record in evidence from the Bushcheney yeehahhhh foreign policy ? .
Unlike the Iraq agitprop run up - there is a firewall built in to any missteps in Syria. I bet dollars to donuts unlike in the Iraq run up - we would see Senior Leadership positions be resigned in protest to any intervention . Also too we do not have the post 911 hysteria about having "to hit them before they hit us again".
(Besides David Addington is busy being the Chief Researcher for Jim Demints new PAC - formerly known as the Heritage Foundation .)

Al Arabist

These particular deaths could most be used externally by the US, by the Saudis, by the Russians, by the Israelis. But they have to exert themselves politically to get "benefit." the Russians, being more involved, are poised for political benefit.

Amir

Your statement is correct. But what is more important is the "biological sensitivity" of the recipient. Cells with high turnover are more affected than slow growing cells. Also, organs with limited regeneration capacity suffer more.
It is important to change the perspective to microns as opposed to miles. I am more than comfortable to sit on a cast of LEU. However, when it oxidizes and one breathes in a microgram, it is a different story. The local cell will get 1000000 times the dose that a skin cell would receive if you sit on it and the former will get that dose eternally as the heavy metal is logged into the tissue and can not be cleared meaningfully.
In all likelihood the incidence of proximal trachea-bronchial tumor will steadily increase in those who served in areas where there was lots of LEU containing material used - such as Fallujah - as opposed to the more distal tumor.

confusedponderer

Yes, we were always to wear respirators, which makes a lot of sense, even though I didn't spend a thought on the risks of inhaling nuclear material at the time.

Wearing respirators was rather exhausting generally, and we had the course in the summer.

Worse were the decontamination exercises in which you wore heavy rubberised protective clothing. After half hour washing trucks very thoroughly in the full sun you were literally standing ankle deep in your own sweat.

rick

Yes. Yes I do. Especially in an election year when all parties are hot to show how tough they are and how they will protect America. Gen. Shinseki was very publicly fired for speaking sense; what effect did that have?

I do not think that we happy few of SST are a representative sample of the electorate, and there is simply no level of folly that I feel beyond me and my fellow Americans.

Alba Etie

We shall see. But I do believe that across the spectrum of our comity & politicians - beside perhaps Senators McCain & Lindsay , there is a great aversion for elected military intervention .
And as an aside it looking like Gen Shinseki is getting a good start at addressing the backlog of veterans in queue at the VA .

kao_hsien-chih

If the question were "is the Obama administration so arrogant as to believe that they can spin this into a more overt intervention," regardless of who might be actually responsible, I think the answer is yes.

Alba Etie

Based on what exactly -perhaps our intervention in Libya ?

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