West’s toxic history of chemical warfare

Share this article
Have your say

PRIME Minister David Cameron disingenuously claims that the actions in Syria represent the first use of chemical weapons in the 21st century (although there is evidence that Israel used white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009, and that the US may have used chemical weapons in Iraq in 2004). 

But we are entitled to reflect on who used Agent Orange in Vietnam? And, slightly later in the 20th century, who colluded with the use of chemical weapons by Iraq against both Iran and its own Kurdish population in the 1980s? The information is available from recently declassified CIA documents.

An 1997 international ­treaty bans the production, stockpiling or use of any chemical weapons. So we are also entitled to ask whether the US, Britain, or any of their allies retain stocks of such weapons themselves. And if so, why?

All war is ugly: civil war particularly so. Rather than arming the protagonists to the eyeballs, shouldn’t our ostensibly responsible governments engage in negotiating ceasefires, which will no doubt be messy but can reduce, and, with patience, ultimately end the bloodshed?

AonGhas Macneacail



IS IT not bizarre to propose the UK goes to war against Syria – where more than 100,000 people have been killed by “traditional” weapons and countless maimed and injured – because 1,000 people have now been apparently killed by chemical weapons?

This fight to the death between Shia and Sunni Muslims is not ours to solve. All we can reasonably do is offer humanitarian support to both sides, in a bid to protect the non-combatants.

Elizabeth Marshall

Western Harbour Midway


WITH Westminster about to commit British forces to yet another illegal war, and inevitably kill unarmed Syrian ­civilians, there is a need for real leadership from First Minister Alex Salmond.

This is his chance to put clear blue water between our policies and those of Westminster – he should be telling us that he would not involve Free Scottish defence forces in a war between two sects of the same religion the other side of the Mediterranean, other than to offer humanitarian aid.

What is the matter with Britain that every prime minister cannot resist the urge to burnish their crown with their own dirty little war?

If Mr Salmond has an alternative foreign policy vision, now is the time to tell us, so that it may inform our voting decision in a year’s time.

David Fiddimore

Calton Road