Syria: One Step Over the Line

syria one step over the line copy

Adam Weatherall



Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.


GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.


In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.


If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.


Wilfred Owen wrote this iconic poem from first hand perspective. It was the imagery derived from this poem that was sighted during the Geneva Convention; the documents signed therein outlaw the use of gas as a weapon of warfare. This poem was written in response to the pro war literature that was popular during World War I. While Mr. Owen intended this piece to damper the fervor of those who have never seen the battlefield, yet preach of its glories, I sight it as a reference point to the horrible nature of a gas attack. The mustard gas attack which sparked that eloquent language was aimed at ill prepared soldiers on a trench scattered battlefield of yesteryear. Now the gas is different, it’s Sarin, and this time the battlefield is different as well. This time the dusty suburban sprawl of Syria is the stage for a chemical attack launched by the Assad Regime on his own people. The evidence has long since been passed around intelligence communities verified by as many agencies as have sought to prove the information as correct. Now as the drum beats of the Obama administration seem to be harkening us to a brand new war, it’s clear that the populace has had their collective fill of conflict in the Middle East. But as is the pragmatic nature of the democrats and their ability to deliver us “inconvenient truths” now they seem to have brought us to the cusp of an inconvenient war.

    The Presidents “red line” was drawn nearly a year ahead of the first chemical attack in a series of three that has left more than 1400 people dead, 400 of them children. But where does the average American draw their proverbial line in the sand? An impromptu poll of the people I encounter shows me that there is much criticism of a mission in Syria, but possible solutions are notably missing from the rhetoric. While there are similarities between Iraq, frankly that is a rather naive viewpoint. The similarities between the two locations begin and end in the arid geographical position of Syria which literally borders Northern Iraq. While it is indeed true that the resident dictator of Syria is a member of the Baath party and is accused of gassing his own people, this time the information confirming Assad’s guilt is considerably more finite than the information connecting Saddam Hussein to his own crimes against humanity. Because this time the gas that flooded the slanted dusty residential area just outside Damascus also flooded onto the myriad of screens connected to the World Wide Web. And the world too was then instantly flooded with the images of dying children writhing and burning in their own agony, drowning in the dirt.

    I would like the American people or at least those within the reach of my words to consider how offensive it might be to the residents of the town recently struck by gas, who now must wait for a European investigation to confirm to them a fact that the imagery of their own dead children last week proved. While investigation is indeed important, hastiness is demanded in the case of dead children. For often times on the outskirts of conflict we forget to consider those who are most directly affected by our action, or rather inaction. When the evidence is examined one thing becomes clear, Assad is out of control, ruthless and now desperate to hold onto what little power he has left, in the second year of his civil war. The U.N’s secretary general can now confirm his belief that Syria indeed used gas. However the United Nations being a group which we belong to, as well as China and Russia, 2 of the 5 permanent members who are allies with the Assad Regime, will stay out of any future conflicts though they support American intervention. Now it seems that China and Russia are among the only pillars left still propping up the Assad Regime and keeping the dream of a Democratic Syria first started during their own Arab springs nearly 2 and a half years ago from coming to fruition.    

Recently an unexpected vote in the British Parliament left a possible international coalition without the presence of the English, but in their place the usually cautious French and strange enough the Dutch have pledged their own resolve for punishing the Assad Regime. Another notable difference from this conflict to Iraq is the French willingness to participate here, where as in Iraq we were restricted from using airspace to complete deliveries to and from our airports. According to a declassified French report delivered to his parliament by French prime minister Jean-Marc Aryault , the Syrians have been under intense scrutiny by French surveillance programs. Everything from wiretapping, imbedded spies and satellite imagery have concluded one thing to the cautious French, chemical weapons were indeed used. This evidence refuted both the claims of Assad’s spokesmen and the Russians, that while chemical weapons were indeed used it was the rebels who inflicted themselves with the wound, the French prime minister stating “The rebel factions have neither access nor the necessary vectors to launch such an attack”.

    All of this being considered, it still leaves the American people to contemplate their participation in yet another Middle Eastern conflict. Voices that tend to echo my own sentiment are lined up as expected, spouting familiar statements like “ Say no to the military industrial complex”, or “No more World policing “, but in this instance I tend to disagree. This conflict and the facts surrounding its inevitability, while murky, don’t support the common antiwar mantras. The tactical strikes being proposed won’t keep Uncle Sam in the green as the cruise missiles we will most likely use here were probably built in the 90’s. I personally didn’t agree with Iraq beforehand or after, but this conflict is uniquely different from Iraq. Children are dying by the thousands in this day of instant connectivity and we callously watch from the safety of our computer screens. Even our computer screens have not been left unscaved by this growing conflict. The Syrian Electronic army continues its now daily onslaught of various American dot coms included among them twitter and now a military recruiting website, on which theyposted images of people dressed as soldiers covering their faces with messages urging no U.S. involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict. This reverse propaganda forced upon us by the hands of a Pro-Syrian hacker group is sponsored directly by the Assad regime. The Syrian Electronic Army (or S.E.A for short) up until recently were more of an amusement than distraction, hacking for instance the Onion’s online portal. But the day they hacked the Grey Lady (NYTIMES), I became perturbed. Surely we in the greatest of digital superpowers couldn’t readily take this lying down. But alas it seems this weekend had most Americans more concerned about the viral nature of Miley Cyrus’s twerking episode rather than the slow death of more people in a single day than on September 11th.

War shows humanity its own reflection at our very darkest moments, a primal image we of weaker constitutions are often disgusted by. But it also is an unfortunate inevitability for some situations; even the most pacifist progressive has a hard time wrapping WWII in the same packaging as other conflicts due to its ultimate result of saving a group of people from extermination. Whether or not that was the initial reasons for our entry it still was a happy end result, one for which the world might be shaped very differently if we had not been drawn into a conflict with Nazi Germany. Imagine if you will what would have happened with Adolph Hitler and his axis if Japan had not crossed our “red line” in Pearl Harbor, and to what extent his atrocities would be allowed to continue without Russian and American participation.  As the drum beats beckoning us to war grow louder it seems you don’t need the Weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing. It’s most certainly blowing toward Syria at the back of the U.S.S. San Antonio, the 6th destroyer to move into striking position off their coast. However, the call has been muffled some as Obama wishes to distinguish himself from his predecessor by sending a resolution up for vote in congress calling on John Mccain and Lindsey Graham to the white house for a pre vote briefing. The congressional vote will soon take place with an immense spew of recently declassified facts laid out in a smorgasbord before the senators. All that remains is for the people of America to weigh the entirety of the evidence collected and make up their own minds…Hopefully logic will prevail.

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syrian electronic army

Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall is the political correspondent for PowerFist.Us a company whose mission is to spread truth and justice to all within it's reach, but more specifically to cover news stories that are often times pushed aside by larger media organizations.