By Stephen J. Sniegoski
To those of a skeptical mind who would want evidence for the alleged culpability of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the August 21 poisonous gas attack, the first part of a “Washington Times” article (September 19), “Kerry tells U.N. to focus on ridding Syria of chemical weapons, not on sarin attack,” is very revealing.
Supposedly, evidence that can be tested is the basis for modern science. As philosopher Karl Popper maintains, scientific theories must be falsifiable. (The nineteenth-century American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, who is often considered the father of the philosophical school of Pragmatism, referred to this approach, which was central to his philosophy, as fallibilism.)
However, Secretary of State John Kerry wants to prevent any move toward a scientific approach from taking place at the UN. So far, while claiming that there is “no doubt” that Assad was to blame, Kerry has yet to provide any actual evidence that could be tested.
As the “Washington Times” article states: “Mr. Kerry called on the international body to avoid getting bogged down next week in a debate questioning American evidence about the regime’s role in last month’s chemical attack on a Damascus suburb.
“’We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts,’ the secretary of state said in a shot at Russia, which, while working with the U.S. on the deal to secure Syria’s weapons, has continued to claim that it was Syrian rebels — not forces aligned with Mr. Assad — who carried out the chemical attack.”
This article didn’t deal with the significance of Kerry’s position and moved on to other issues in Syria.
For the entire article, click here.
It is significant, however, to note a news story appearing in “The Times of Israel” with the headline “Israeli intelligence seen as central to US case against Syria” (August 27).
Now since the Israeli government has sought a US attack on Syria, and intelligence indicating Assad’s use of chemical weapons would obviously facilitate such a military endeavor, there is no reason to give any credence to this Israeli information. After all, Israel provided bogus intelligence on Saddam’s alleged WMD.
In contrast to the American faith-based arguments that assume Assad’s guilt, Russia gave the UN a 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for an earlier sarin attack in Aleppo, which included a detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians purportedly collected at the site of the attack.
Kerry is essentially trying to put the culpability of Assad for the gassing in the category of those issues the certitude of which one is not allowed to question, and that to do so would constitute “hate” (in this case, alleged support for all Assad’s brutal actions), thus barring one from mainstream venues. That does not mean the American version is necessarily wrong, but it certainly leads one with a skeptical mind, but little ambition to be successful in the American mainstream, to wonder.
Now if Assad is not going wildly about and gassing masses of people and only possesses stockpiles of chemical weapons, there is no more reason that he give them up than Israel, which also allegedly possesses chemical weapons along with its nuclear arsenal. (Israel does not publicly acknowledge its possession of either chemical or nuclear weaponry, and the US government does not publicly acknowledge Israel’s possession of these weapons either.)
If the goal really were to make the Middle East free from horrific weapons, as America now pontificates, then an effort would be made to have all the countries in the region give up these weapons and undergo inspections. As it is, with the elimination of weapons solelyfrom Israel’s enemies, the purpose would appear to be simply to solidify Israeli military dominance in the region. Hitler, too, wanted to disarm his enemies.