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What are 'weapons of mass destruction'?

Of Cabbages and Kings

Published:   |   Updated: September 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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Our president, in attempting to drum up support for his politically-motivated, "punish Syria" campaign, keeps harping on Syria's alleged use of poison gas - a partially banned weapon of mass destruction, which indiscriminatingly kills anything near its target, including women and children. Secretary of State John Kerry faithfully and dramatically parrots the boss's line. We must, they say, save the reputation of the U.S. by launching a billion dollars worth of stand-off missiles on select targets in Syria. If we fail in that humanitarian obligation, more women and children will die from the Syrian president's inhumane use of weapons of mass destruction. Apparently neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Kerry know anything about relatively recent history, or else they can't spell "h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e."

The United States of America, and its allies in the Second World War, routinely used weapons of mass destruction, which killed more than 500,000 civilians, including women and children. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

What is a "weapon of mass destruction"? Well, I consider a basic description to be: Any weapon (aerial bomb, rocket, missile, gas, artillery, biological, etc.) not aimed at a specific target of military importance. Glaring examples of such are the carpet bombing raids of large cities, such as were regularly carried out during World War II. In just two horrible nights in 1945, the U.S. used napalm and incendiary cluster bombs to set ablaze 16 square miles of a residential district outside of Tokyo; more than 100,000 civilians died in that blaze.

Our bombing of Berlin, over a five year period, caused an estimated 50,000 civilian deaths. Hitler's bombers indiscriminately dropped bombs on London, killing at least 20,000 civilians. Britain and the U.S. routinely bombed many other civilian targets (some with appropriate, industrial assets included), killing another 100,000 men, women, and children. Among those targets were Osaka in Japan and Kassel, Darmstadt, Dresden, Hamburg and Bremerhaven in Germany. We probably don't need to add of the use of the first atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which resulted in at least 200,000 civilian deaths.

Mr. President, and Mr. Secretary, the U.S. has clearly used weapons of mass destruction on civilian targets and done so on many occasions. Yes, it can be argued that our use was justified, in that it saved lives in the final analysis, but we still used weapons of mass destruction on civilians!

So kindly cease preaching the need to incinerate or blow apart parts of Syria because they may have used a weapon of mass destruction (a toxic gas) against a civilian target (which was apparently occupied by and host to an enemy fighting force). Such inflammatory rhetoric serves to suggest your ignorance of history and of indiscriminate weaponry, perhaps that you have little or no appreciation for the intelligence of the American people.

As I have recently asserted in prior columns, war is basically and intrinsically amoral; it cannot be, has not been and will not be fought by such as the Marquess of Queensbery Rules (an attempt to make fist fighting civilized). Wars are won by destroying the enemy before he destroys you, and by the most effective means available, such as we demonstrated by the previously mentioned aerial bombing runs over Japan and Germany.

If there is no imminent physical threat to these United States, do not use our armed forces to attack any other nation. In particular, keep us clear of involvement in Syria's ongoing armed conflict.

Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by J.G. Nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at

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