There is no really good general way of estimating which facts that another person has floating in his head without personal contact. The same is true for populations – people in general, people in particular professions, etc. Sometimes, though, the utter lack of recognition of what ought to be an obvious connection, the dogs that don’t bark, makes clear that nobody in the talking classes has ever heard of a particular event.
They ought to be talking about Bari, 1943.
Just wondering, is that event by any chance connected to the discovery of chemotherapy? And do you think it might be relevant as to how chemical weapons could accidentally be “used” in a war, like in Syria?
Interestingly, according to Chris Bellamy (Absolute War) the Soviets did use a chemical grenade back in 1941 or 42 at Sevastopol, probably b/c a rookie gunner loaded the wrong ammo. It’s interesting that the Germans noticed, but instead of mindlessly starting a propaganda war and maneuvering themselves into a PR corner where their only option would have been retaliation, they just started a silent investigation. Which found that it was just an accident. One of the obvious reason for thinking so was that the Soviets inly used it once, which (if exploited) would already make a huge propaganda coup for their enemies, but which nevertheless wouldn’t help them win the battle, much less the war. If you decide to go rogue, why stop at one ineffectual shot?
The Emperor of All Maladies has a decent discussion of the discovery of the chemotherapeutic effects of mustard gas (and subsequently related nitrogen mustards) as a result of medical investigations of the survivors/victims/tissue samples of the Bari raid.
Now that’s turning lemons into lemonade! I knew that some early chemotherapeutic agents had roots in mustard gas, but I hadn’t heard about the Bari connection.
Damn, if only I had mentioned that one in the “stump Greg Cochran” thread a few months ago. Basically a few researchers under the Chemical Warfare Unit of the OSRD investigating the effects of mustard gas exposure on victims of the Bari raid noticed that it decimated white blood cell count, and subsequently started testing nitrogen mustards on mice and rabbits, and later on people with lymphomas. Noticing the effect of mustard gas on white blood cells goes back to WWI though, and is named the “Krumbhaar Effect” after the physician who observed it in exposed soldiers.
Also, does anybody have any idea what the actual agent was in the Syrian case? The obvious choice in such a case is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, but there does not appear to be too much convulsing or defecating/urinating in the videos, so it probably isn’t sarin or VX, or at least high-quality sarin or VX. It also does not look like chlorine gas or phosgene, or a ETC-inhibitor like cyanogen. And there are no ugly skin boils, so no mustard gas. The strange thing is, I have seen at most one or two articles speculating on what agent was actually involved, along with Biden claiming it was a nerve agent, although I put precisely zero stock in his opinion on the matter. Is the identity of what was actually used just not considered important by our esteemed press?
In other words, it cannot be discounted that it is the Syrian rebels with the chemical weapons that got accidentally released after an attack by Syrian government forces?
More that Bari-type possibilities exist in any air strike on Syria, especially if aimed at stores of poison gas. I’ve seem some mention of such risks, but no mention of the history. No mention of Bari.
ok, but who cares about that? It seems like people get in charge of the US military and they feel like the guys running the Death Star
“This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it”‘
What are a few accidental WMD deaths when you’re taking that baby out for a spin?
They’ve thought of it. No plan to strike chemical weapons stores:
The plans, which await a sign-off from President Barack Obama, could rely on four U.S. destroyers in the Mediterranean, each armed with dozens of advanced Tomahawk cruise missiles that can be fired at Syrian military and intelligence compounds, front-line artillery batteries and other regime targets.
Not on the list of targets are chemical-weapons supplies, given the potential for widespread collateral damage, the defense officials said.
Accidental release of a chemical weapon as in Bari is certainly a possibility but it seems unlikely that the UN investigators will be able to definitely establish exactly what happened. In any case our actions in this whole mess seem to be determined by random events over which we have little control rather than a clearly thought out strategy. At least thats how it looks to me. But maybe Obama has some clue as to what he’s doing and where we’re going.
“maybe Obama has some clue as to what he’s doing and where we’re going”: heavy sarcasm there.
Did you see this yet?
Also, hbd_chick’s excerpt of Gary Brecher (War Nerd), “Little Kerry and the Three Bad Options.”
Nuts or what? That is often the question with our glorious leaders.
Further questions should be the unintended consequences of all the warfare around those chemical weapons. I think having them anywhere near the front introduces a variable just like that shipfull in Bari. The Assad regime is already tottering, and an accidental massive detonation would cause as much damage to regime forces as to the rebels. The other problem is the use of these weapons as a catalyst to the conflict.
This catalytic effect could include using the entire stockpile in a full on onslaught to attempt to end the conflict with a collapse of the regime opponents while the West sits paralyzed- a move that might be reviled, but has a good probability of success at this moment because of insufficient defenses against the weapons. I give this scenario some chance of success, because of the ability to rapidly deploy these weapons, and use them to effectively destroy fortified positions, and destroy civilian support in rebel controlled areas.
The opposite question is one of defection- if any CW equipped units defect, then the ability to use these on government strongpoints now exists, and the opposition may pose a credible threat to attempt to end the war by genocide targetting the regime strongpoints- or even a decapitation strike on Assad’s headquarters- and the rebels would now have no compunction against using these weapons. The use of these weapons may also generate a volunteer surge by Sunni populations against the Assad regime, bringing numerous fresh troops into the battlezone, some of which may be “volunteer” units of Saudi and Turkish troops determined to remove this regime for once and all.
In short, using those weapons has changed this conflict into one of survival, and with those stakes the savagery will grow, not be contained, no matter what our leadership decides.
Putin is also starting to become a bit concerned, as he should be since the FSU had immense stockpiles of this stuff, and I am sure some of it has gone missing.
Let’s just assume for a minute that the attack last week was ordered by Assad, b/c he thinks he would have grave difficulties trying to win the civil war w/o chemical weapons, so that it would be worth for him taking the risks of using chemical weapons against the rebels. How exactly is his calculation going to change after a few Tomahawks destroy some of his palaces as well as some of his military capabilities? Methinks by diminishing his non-chemical capabilities we are going to push him into using more, not less, of the thing. Especially after the fate of Saddam taught him that complying with US pressure achieves exactly nothing, except to convince your own men that you are doomed.
I don’t know, it seems like the Israeli’s have a pretty good track record of figuring out what is going on in Syria (and acting on it, I might add):
Right, you don’t know.
Well, I do know the Israelis have a good track record of figuring out when the Syrian regime is up to something nasty (e.g. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Orchard"building a nuclear reactor, supplying Hezbollah, etc.) But you are correct that whether or not this alleged chemical weapon attack is really an example of the Syrian regime up to something nasty remains to be seen.
LOL. So the closest to the proof of the otherwise absurd notion (given the place and time) that Assad is responsible for the chemical attack is Israeli intelligence telling us that they intercepted some calls basically asking “what the hell is going on?” We must act NOW!
An action being stupid to the point of absurdity is only a mildly powerful argument against it having happened.
Read the Hebrew newspapers. Most Israelis feel that keeping Assad in place is the least bad option for our Eastern border. Mouth-running by american Jews must be 100% discounted. ==They== do not have to report for reservist duty in the infantry until age 50….
I’d never heard of it until just now.
Cheer up, Steve. I hadn’t heard about it until about five years ago, and I’m a member of the generation that grew up immediately after the war and whose young lives were dominated by it.
This Bari hypothesis for Ghouta (Syria) chemical disaster coincides with what AP journalist Dale Galvak has reported on the scene:
She reports on statements by rebel fighters and commanders as well as civilians who suspect that Jhabat Al-Nusrah rebels (linked to Al Qaeda) were stockpiling chemical weapons in the tunnels dug in Gohuta area.
I think it is more likely that because of their poverty the Syrian rebels and Syrians in general do not have enough mental bandwidth to understand that they should not play with chemical weapons.
An 11/10 post imo.
> Let’s just assume for a minute that the attack last week was ordered by Assad, b/c he thinks he would have grave difficulties trying to win the civil war w/o chemical weapons, so that it would be worth for him taking the risks of using chemical weapons against the rebels. How exactly is his calculation going to change after a few Tomahawks destroy some of his palaces as well as some of his military capabilities? Methinks by diminishing his non-chemical capabilities we are going to push him into using more, not less, of the thing. Especially after the fate of Saddam taught him that complying with US pressure achieves exactly nothing, except to convince your own men that you are doomed.
Luttwak thinks unacceptable deterrence could well begin to manifest, even if an attack were optimally designed. Or so he said in NYT — reading between the lines. When it comes to today’s NYT article, not as much interpretive reading is needful. So I think little will happen, at least for now. (By the way Sunnis are not the only deterrence target I’ve seen mentioned.)
–Unless they all wrote the opposite of what they really think — I believe that’s happened a time or two in man’s history. I don’t really think so, though.
Gary Brecher disagrees with them. But that ain’t really tugging my epistemic heartstrings.
What’s quite weird, is that I happen to have open in front of me, a book called “Target Ploesti, View from a Bombsight.” The author was a bombardier in the 460th Bombardment Group (heavy) in Italy in 1944. About halfway through their fifty missions, he and his comrades had recreational leave at Bari.
The author preferred the Sperry bombsight to the Norden one, as it worked better. Norden had better salesmen.
A trailer of a documentary on Bari accident 1943
I keep reading about Syria and it’s more complicated than I thought. I’m less confident about what I wrote above. People say this, that – of course in a context like this, the index of suspicion about why they say what they say is pretty high.