This assumption is not at all challenged by these paragraphs found in today's Jack Kelly column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
We must intervene in the civil war in Syria because "if a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity," it would set a bad example for others, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.By the way, I am leaning against any sort of intervention into Syria, but I am conflicted. On the one hand something has to be done to punish a regime that uses chemical weapons, on the other I can't see anything good coming out of it. By hurting the Assad regime, we'd end up helping the rather nasty folks he's fighting. Given the "law" of unintended consequences, I'm sure lotsa bad stuff would follow - all with our name on it. But doing nothing seems wrong as well.
Secretary Kerry's moral outrage would have been more moving if Sen. Kerry -- who met with the Syrian dictator six times and urged "engagement" with his regime -- hadn't said so many kind things about Mr. Assad in the recent past.
And Secretary Kerry's assertion that the use of chemical weapons justifies U.S. military intervention would be more persuasive if Sen. Kerry hadn't taken the opposite stance. Many more were killed when Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurdish village of Halabja than in the sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb Aug. 21, but Sen. Kerry didn't think that justified U.S. intervention in Iraq.
So you see my issue.
But let's get back to Jack. He's contrasting Secretary of State Kerry's response to Syria's use of gas with the then Senator Kerry's "opposite stance" regarding Saddam Hussein's use of gas in Halabja in 1988. In doing so, he leaves out a few things:
- As Senator Kerry cosponsored SR 408 - a condemnation of Iraq's use of chemical weapons.
- Iraq was an ally of ours at that time during the Iran-Iraq war.
But let's take a deeper look at Halabja in 1988. First some background from Foreign Policy:
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.And:
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.
By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein's military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.And:
According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like [Air Force Col. Rick] Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983.And yet at the same time:
President Reagan yesterday condemned the use of outlawed chemical weapons in the Persian Gulf war, especially against the Kurdish minority in Iraq, and called for new global ban on such warfare.Something that's been known for more than a decade:
"We condemn it," Reagan told the 43rd General Assembly in his final speech to the world body as president. "The use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war - beyond its tragic human toll - jeopardises the moral and legal strictures that have held these weapons in check since World War I."
Reagan indirectly criticized Iraq's use of poison gas against Iraqi Kurds and Iranians. He cited the Kurdish area of Halabja in Iraq and Maidan Shahr on the border as "terrible new names added to the roll call of human horror."
A covert American program during the Reagan administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program.So yea, Secretary of State Kerry's the one whose credibility should be questioned here.
By the way, Jack Kelly was an deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan Administration - starting in December 1983. Considering that the Reagan Administration had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks since, well, more or less exactly when Jack started working for it, did he know that the Reagan was lying through its teeth when his administration was both aiding Iraq's use of chemical weapons and yet condemning it all at the same time?