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Neues Deutschland, Germany

Chemical Weapons and “Patriots”



By Jan van Aken

We should take care not to jump aboard the chemical weapons bandwagon in order to justify sending Patriot missiles to Turkey. One has nothing to do with the other – or at least as little as Iraq's WMDs had with going to war 10 years ago.

Translated By Ron Argentati

6 December 2012

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken


Germany - Neues Deutschland - Original Article (German)

Exactly one day before NATO's decision to undertake a military mission in Turkey, the U.S. intelligence community announced that Syria's Assad was getting ready to deploy chemical weapons. What a coincidence. It's highly reminiscent of the WMD lies with which the U.S. justified its invasion of Iraq almost exactly 10 years ago. Today, it's not a Colin Powell going before the U.N. Security Council but rather an anonymous informant in The New York Times. But the effect is still the same: German media hyperventilate about chemical weapons and Obama and Westerwelle send warnings to Syria. Who can say anything against sending German troops and Patriot missiles to Turkey now?

The fact is, there's no connection between Syrian chemical weapons and German Patriot missiles. Yes, Assad's regime probably possesses chemical weapons. A spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry even admitted it last July. It's also possible that Western intelligence services have observed Syrian chemical weapons being moved from one location to be concentrated in another inside Syria. That would hardly be surprising, as Assad certainly wants to avoid his chemical weapons falling into the hands of armed rebels. Therefore, it's plausible they are moving them to more secure locations. But concluding that the weapons are being prepared for deployment is pure speculation. There is no indication of that whatsoever.

On the other hand, it's highly unlikely that Assad would deploy chemical weapons in his civil war. He certainly knows that would bring a Western military invasion and would mean an immediate end to his regime.

From a military viewpoint, it's ludicrous to think that a missile defense system like the Patriot would be of any use against Assad's chemical weapons, as the Patriot system is exclusively designed to intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles. No one – not even the White House – could seriously believe that Assad would launch a Scud rocket loaded with poison gas against the rebels. The weapon of choice in that scenario would certainly be chemical artillery shells or aerial bombs with chemical payloads. Beyond that, not even Ankara believes that Assad will deliberately attack Turkey – not with the sporadic and mistaken artillery shelling of the last few weeks, and certainly not with poison gas-laden cruise missiles.

We should take care not to jump aboard the chemical weapons bandwagon in order to justify sending Patriot missiles to Turkey. One has nothing to do with the other – or at least as little as Iraq's WMDs had with going to war ten years ago. And we should never forget that the Iraq war that began with a “weapons of mass destruction” lie ended with more than 500,000 dead and left behind a country that may never recover from that war's effects.



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