Here’s what (i think) we know: amateur video from an admittedly bias source went viral earlier this week (Wednesday August 21st 2013). It is allegedly proof that someone used sarin gas on innocent people outside Damascus. The footage shows scores of people on the floor, some in seizures with visible trouble breathing, but most of them limp and lifeless. There are no signs of physical trauma on these people, but specialists in chemical weapns cannot reach a consensus on whether this is sarin gas, some other toxic agent, or if in fact this was elaborately staged by people against the Syrian government to make it appear Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is using stockpiles of sarin gas on its own people. The alleged victims include children. Any parent will tell you how difficult it is to get that many children to play dead. For some, that’s evidence enough. If I still used the concept of belief, I’d be one of them.
However, not too long ago, a US president committed the United States to a war with Iraq, on what turned out to be faulty intelligence. Many believed without question that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction somewhere in his country. For several years UN inspectors tried to get in Iraq and Saddam was uncooperative, then sometimes it appeared he’d cooperate but then he wouldn’t be, but then we invaded the country anyway and we looked all over the place. We found no weapons of mass destruction aside from our own. Of course, we killed Saddam Hussein anyway. We pretended to liberate Iraq, and patted ourselves on the back saying “mission accomplished.”
There is a disconnect between what we believe and what is real. There is a disconnect between what we can prove and what we pretend we don’t need to prove cuz we tell ourselves it just is. This disconnect is not just just an isolated incident with a few crazy people. It is a disease of the mind which affects presidents and janitors. It’s not just affecting one country or one civilian here and there, or just a few entire groups of people. It is a disconnect with every single human being on this freaking planet. We pretend our subjective perceptions of reality trump objective tangible reality.
Then there’s philosophers who try to prove that objective reality doesn’t exist without our subjective perception of it, when the opposite is true. Which came first the chicken or the egg? Are you really gonna go there? I already have. The answer is neither came first. That’s not an opinion. That’s not a belief. Scientists have found conclusive evidence that other creatures existed billions of years before chickens did. Chickens were not magically created by a god. They evolved over eons into what we cut up and fry today. There’s no debate. It’s over. We don’t know the details. We don’t have every generation of fossils from the beginning of time to now, but we have enough of the puzzle to know it doesn’t look like a god did jack. Billions of believers feel however, if you believe hard enough, their god exists anyway. Clap if you believe in fairies, boys and girls. Subjective reality does not trump objective reality, no matter how hard you believe.
Back to the Syria thing: Now I’m not the kind of person to jump to the conclusion that the moon landings were faked or that Elvis Presley is still alive, but I am not entirely convinced the video footage released is authentic. It is possible to drug kids into a near coma state without killing them. I’ve looked at some of the footage myself, and I’ve also read up a bit on how sarin gas works and what it would do. The symptoms are not identical, but they are close enough to convince some people either way. It’s ambiguous. There were people in the videos trying to help the ones who appeared to be dying. Sarin is a heavy gas that hangs in the clothes of victims for up to an hour after exposure, but there were no indications that people tending to the injured were being affected by the gas themselves even though few wore protective gear. Also, some of the scenes looked like the bodies were purposefully lined up to be on display for the cameras, when in a real emergency situation the scene would have been more chaotic. It does look like it was staged, which is kind of creepy whether the footage is sincere or not. Tho I am of the opinion this wasn’t completely fabricated by the rebels to make the Assad regime look bad, there IS evidence pro and con here. The footage raises more questions than it answers.
Now, the toxic gas attack outside Damascus on Wednesday August 21st 2013 is not an isolated incident. There have been half a dozen reports of similar incidents in the past year. It is not a well-kept secret that Syria has been stockpiling sarin gas and other toxic agents for decades, despite the fact these agents have been deemed illegal by the United Nations. Enemies of the Assad regime have been reporting for months that Syria is using these illegal weapons of mass destruction in vain attempts to quell dissent among its own people. There is no absolute certainty that Assad’s gov’t is using the sarin gas. Everyone’s pretty sure they have it, but there’s no smoking gun. We know Syria stockpiles sarin, but the video footage released that claims to prove it falls short of proof. It’s not in keeping with out sarin works, according to some specialists. Perhaps it was some other kind of toxic agent. UN investigators would need access to the sites in question to ascertain the truth. The United Nations has asked Syria to allow UN inspectors to these alleged sites to investigate these allegations. Syria has been uncooperative. An old adage goes something like this: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” One could also argue for its opposite. If you have something to fear, it’s probably because you have something to hide.
Do you believe that?
It’s difficult for some to jump to the conclusion that the Syrian gov’t would actively and repeatedly use chemical weapons on its own people, knowing the world is watching, and knowing this would force western countries to intervene. What would be the motivation of the Assad regime to force our hand? Do they WANT a war with the US and her allies? Are they intentionally using their own innocent civilians like hostages to provoke us into violent retaliation? Or is this like a poker game? Syria doesn’t believe other countries can stop them from killing their own people. Are they testing that theory? Calling our bluff with bloodshed?
It’s also difficult for some to jump to the conclusion that Syrian rebels have the wherewithal and the gall to fake all of this. However, to be fair, they are motivated to give other countries reason to intervene. There are multiple Syrian rebel groups. They are a splintered minority weakened by a much more powerful and resourceful enemy. The Assad regime is formidable, and they have powerful allies. So if they could get enough people, children included, to participate for little to nothing, it isn’t entirely impossible to stage something like this for digital cameras and cellphones. Necessity is the mother of invention, and desperation is often the father.
If the Syrian gov’t has nothing to hide, letting UN inspectors do their job would prove their innocence. However, that’s what people were trying to convince Saddam Hussein and he ended up dead anyway. Bashar Assad probably doesn’t want the same thing to happen to him. The Syrian gov’t really has no reason to believe or trust the UN. Who is to say the UN wouldn’t pretend to inspect, pretend to find evidence, and accuse Bashar Assad of using sarin gas whether he’s guilty or not? You may have faith in the UN but Bashar Assad and his supporters obviously do not.
There is no smoking gun. We can’t even prove it’s sarin gas. We can’t prove the legitimacy of the amateur video. Even if we could, how could we retaliate? Go to war with Assad? Syria is allies with Iran. If we go to war with Syria, we’re going to war with Iran. There ARE people who have been trying to force us into a battle with Iran for decades. Even if we intervened in Syria, who would we support? There are multiple splinter groups among the rebels and they are not all in solidarity against their common foe. Furthermore, I don’t think any of these rebel groups have been proven supportive of the US. The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend, and it seems most of the more powerful opponents of Assad’s regime also happen to have ties to extremist Muslim groups that are on an ongoing Jihad with America and anyone else who tells them their Allah is full of shit. We really don’t want to go to bed with these enemies, no matter how many kids Assad’s regime subjects to toxic gas. If the west intervenes in the Middle East, history proves we tend to make things worse and not better. This is all the more reason why none of the factions in Syria really trust us. They’ve been paying attention to how much we’ve screwed up elsewhere.
Either the Assad gov’t used chemical weapons on its own people or it did not. If it did not, perhaps it was one of the Syrian rebel groups attacking innocents supporting some other Syrian rebel group, believing they were expendable for the purpose of their subjective perception of “a greater good.” Or perhaps the footage was rigged and no one had to die? That’s somehow the most comforting scenario but not the most convincing.
What’s more likely? Well, the Syrian gov’t did it obviously. However, any mystery writer will tell you its never the most obvious answer. One may believe the Syrian gov’t did it, but we still can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. We don’t know. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do it. That also doesn’t mean they did. Israel claims they have evidence that only the Syrian gov’t could have done it, but Israel is highly motivated to start (and finish) a Judeo-Christian war against the nations of Islam. Are we to take Israel at her word, given what we know? Russia has accused the Syrian rebels of staging these toxic gas attacks to garner sympathy with the US and her allies. but Russia has no more evidence of their claims beyond hearsay, rhetoric, and uncertainty. At least Israel claims to have evidence. Are we to believe Russia at face value, with nothing to substantiate their accusations?
My opinion is Syria’s Assad government is attacking its own people with toxic gas, though I fall short of assuming its sarin gas. It might be something else that works similar to sarin gas, or perhaps a newly invented threat. If Assad’s regime has no qualms using toxic agents on their own population, what’s stopping them from doing this to anyone? Surrounding countries that upset them, for example. Perhaps even inside the United States itself. Still, I’ve examined the scenarios, and I feel the most likely one leaves Assad’s regime the culprit. However, that’s just my opinion, based on what little I know. I could be wrong. Believing in my opinion does not make it more or less right. Faith has no effect on reality.
The Assad gov’t used some kind of toxic agent innocent people. That’s the educated guess. We need to confirm that before we make rash, uneducated decisions, cuz Here There Be Dragons…