'Right to protect' hypocrisy of America on chemical weapons

How can the US proclamation that it intends to intervene militarily in Syria to protect civilians from chemical warfare be taken seriously, when the US has slaughtered and poisoned hundreds of thousands with chemical weapons itself, in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere?

Outside the bubble of ignorance and unreality that corporate media and corporate rule impose on the US public, the world is horrified and aghast not at the alleged use of nerve gas against Syrian civilians, but at the notion that the U S claims the right to bomb Syria supposedly to “protect” its people.

From 1961 to 1972 the US military executed the biggest and deadliest chemical warfare operation in history. It was Operation Trail Dust, in which more than 20 million thousands of tons of blended dioxon and other poisons, the most famous known as Agent Orange, were sprayed across 10 per cent of the land area of South Vietnam, along with big tracts of Laos and Cambodia.

The objective was to kill the lush triple canopy jungle in which Vietnamese fighters hid and through which they transported supplies, and to kill the animals and crops of Vietnamese peasants in areas the US and its puppets could not control, driving that population into its cities and so-called “strategic hamlets”. Many of the estimated two million war Vietnamese dead perished from the short term effects of US chemical warfare, while Vietnamese and other doctors verify that since then an estimated half million people have been born with major deformities. To this day the US has never accepted any responsibility for this ghastly and ongoing atrocity.

Even if we stick only to western Asia, the US record on chemical weapons used against civilians is unprecedented.

During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war the Pentagon provided Saddam Hussein with satellite intelligence so he would know where to fire his nerve gas at Iranian troop concentrations.

In its two Gulf Wars, the US littered Kuwait and Iraq with radioactive depleted uranium munitions which continue to poison countless civilians today. Hospitals in places like Fallujah report skyrocketing numbers of radiation-induced birth defects. And during the Obama administration the US winked at Israel's use of ghastly white phosphorus made in the USA against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

There are treaties banning chemical weapons, but none of them authorise any nation to launch “preventive” or punitive strikes against those who do. Most Arabs, most of the world knows this history, and so do more than a few Americans, including much of the so-called left.

The foremost practitioner of chemical warfare in human history is about to bomb a country one-fifteenth its size, for its alleged use of chemical weapons. If the Bush-Cheney gang were still in power, we might see Melissa Harris-Perry and Rachel Maddow reminding us of this awful record. But there's a Democrat in the White House, so the hypocrisy detectors have been turned off and the history teachers silenced.

This is what US policy makers mean when they talk about their “right to protect” civilians in other countries.

* Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party of America. Contact him at: bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.