Use of Poison Gas in the Middle East Is Not New

New York -- With Western powers, most notably the United States, Britain and France, weighing how best to punish the Syrian government for its alleged use of poison gas on its own restive civilians, we recalled a story we produced a decade ago, in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by a primarily Anglo-American force.

Photo left, 1st Lt. Matthew Chau, commander of Border Team 3, 25th Infantry Division, patrols Halabja, Iraq. Buried in the village cemetery are many victims of the 1988 chemical weapons attack, ordered by Saddam Hussein. Photo by Sgt. Sean Kimmons, February 23, 2005, courtesy of U.S. Army

This story, by our United Kingdom correspondent and fellow WG member Kieron Punch, related the role played by Irish soldiers in a British excursion into Iraq in 1920, when British forces deployed indiscriminate aerial bombing and, say some historians, poison gas in a bid to pacify an Iraqi rebellion against their new colonial overlords.

Britain had used gas weapons in the Middle East before, perhaps most prominently, in the Second Battle of Gaza against Ottoman forces in a British military defeat.

What we found startling in producing Kieron's article, and now, is Winston Churchill's response to criticism of the contemplated British use of gas. Churchill, in 1920 British secretary of state for war and air. replied then, "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes."

Even 93 years on, Churchill's words have chilling resonance, especially with the winds of war today once again laced with poison.   
                                                                                                     -- Gerry Regan, Executive Producer, The Wild Geese

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Tags: Asia, Britain, Military History, News, United States

Comment by Bit Devine on August 30, 2013 at 1:51am

Too many unanswered questions...and yet our President is raring to jump in with both feet...of course those aren't his own feet...

Whilst mainstream news is joining the jump....NPR and others are asking the hard question "what if it isn't Assad's folk?"...and backing up their question with video

I am by no means an isolationist but I can't help but ask:

Where is it written that AMERICA should be first in every time? Why are we the World's savior? 

Horrible atrocities occur every day, globally... Are we supposed to answer to every one?

We can't fiscally afford to get involved in another foolhardy war. This is not Our's to fight

Provide support for NATO forces ... Possibly... Within financial reason... But not first in... Let somebody else handle that 

Of course this new muddle does provide the perfect distraction doesn't it? Suddenly there is little mention of NSA, Benghazi, Snowden et al
How about fixing what is broke within our own borders before riding to the rescue somewhere else
Comment by The Last Torch on August 30, 2013 at 3:53am

Well said Bit. Americans like you need to speak out. I know there are many more who agree with you. War is NEVER the answer. 

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on August 30, 2013 at 4:10am

I'll say war is RARELY the answer.  I, for one, and glad the Allied Forces stepped in and interrupted that Adolf guy's plans.

Comment by The Last Torch on August 30, 2013 at 6:49am

true. Maybe I just wish war was never the answer.

Comment by Bit Devine on August 30, 2013 at 11:07am

War is seldom the answer. It rarely serves its purpose without decimating the lowest socio-economic groups whilst lining the pockets of the weakthiest...

In the case of Syria, neither side... Assad or the rebel forces... are the "good guys"....neither side of this "fight" are any less malevolent than the other...both sides are none too clean... Neither has any real love for the United States of America

So the U.S. launches a military strike. Then what?.The true victims in this are the Syrian civilian...The civilians lose...whether we wade into the fray or not...

Comment by Bit Devine on August 30, 2013 at 11:08am

and then there is this....

again...not mainstream media:

Comment by Gerry Regan on September 3, 2013 at 10:47am

I'm nearly certain Assad used chemical weapons, and would love to see him disappear from the world stage. But perhaps we should support democratic forces looking to overturn him, and let the Hague process play out. Assad's clearly crossed 'The Pale' with this action.

Comment by Bit Devine on September 3, 2013 at 11:48am

I am also confident that his forces used chemicals...but both sides have laid claim to that action. I am not comfortable with using our military forces to "back" the Rebels. Their connections to Al Qaeda should make our assistance null and void.

Comment by Gerry Regan on September 3, 2013 at 9:31pm

We may have to agree to disagree, Bit. But this really is beyond the scope of our collective mission here, in any event.


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