Below is the full text which I submitted to the Edmonton Journal’s letter section. The edited version they printed is here.
RE: Syrian chemical attack wakes up west. Andrew Coyne. Saturday 31st August.
I have two problems with the West’s rationale for intervening in Syria that no one, Andrew Coyne included, appears to want to discuss.
First, why are chemical weapons classified as WMDs? Why aren’t all modern weapons classified as WMDs?
Is it because chemical weapons are more massively destructive? Modern weapons had already killed 100,000 Syrians before chemical weapons were shown to have killed 1429.
Is it because chemical weapons are more horrible? I watched the BBC video of the victims of the gas attack. It was horrible. I’ve also watched the video Bradley Manning leaked of a U.S. helicopter crew gunning down unarmed journalists and civilians. It too was horrible.
Is it because chemical weapons are more indiscriminate? Modern weapons are so indiscriminate that we’ve coined a new term to describe civilians who die from them: collateral damage. Guns and bombs, mines and mortars, napalm and Hellfire missiles fired from drones have always killed indiscriminately.
All modern weapons kill people in large numbers, horribly, and indiscriminately. Chemical weapons are no different.
Second, and most important, was the point Coyne already stated in his article:
“We are already paying a price for our previous inaction.” This is the stark truth. And our inaction has been going on for not months or years, but decades.
This is the inaction of not helping people build peace, of not acting on our morals but for our selfish interests, of not working for fundamental solutions and opting instead for non-solutions based on violence. We’re paying the price for not being on the side of truth and justice. For decades we’ve repeatedly chosen war and trillions of wasted dollars on WMDs of all types somehow believing that peace can be based on violence.
Violence will not cease by violence. Violence ceases by nonviolence.
We should not add to the violence of Syria with our own weapons of mass destruction.