CHEMICAL ATTACK ON SYRIA
Over 110,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of a years-long conflict in the country. On August the 21st, the U.S government says that 1,429 died through the chemical attacks which marked the sea change in foreign policy towards the Middle Eastern country. The impact of poison gas is horrific and fatal. Those exposed to the nerve agent can die within 15 minutes of exposure. Mr. Obama's absolutist position against it is backed up by international law and the United Nations. The 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war. this was reinforced by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which aimed to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, and forced countries involved to destroy all of their production facilities. Only five of the world's countries did not sign the pledge: North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan, Angola - and yes, Syria. However it is still bound by the earlier 1925 protocol. The use of gas in warfare played a huge role in our psychological response to warfare in WW1. It forms the basis of John Singer Sargent's Gassed and is described by Wilfred Owen in his famous poem. "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, and drowning." Even Hitler thought the use of gas in warfare was crossing the line (though he did not see a problem in using it in concentration camps). And it was the British who helped lead the charge against the use of chemical gas after 10,000 British soldiers were gassed in WW1. No-one denies the use of poison gas is a horrific abuse of human rights. What has changed is our attitude to intervention and perception of appropriate response. Those who supported the vote against intervention in Syria say that launching an attack as punishment for its use is not strategically sensible, in that there is no specific, long-term objective.
So what is the alternative to military...
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