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Henry Rollins: Chemical Weapons for Sale

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Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]

See also: Henry Rollins: End of Summer Rituals

When I was in Syria a few years ago, I wandered around Damascus. Besides the oppressive heat, I found the city to be beautiful and the many people I met to be friendly, curious and happy that I had come to their country. I would occasionally ask vendors, who would engage me in conversation, why there were so many posters of Assad everywhere. The usual reaction was silence or an immediate topic change. Days later, traveling from Lebanon to San Francisco International Airport, I was taken into a small room and questioned by three uniformed men who were fairly furious that I had been to Syria.

When it became Syria's turn to feel the penetrating stare of America's Freedom Eagle, now fully erect with the stench of poison gas in its beak, I wasn't surprised. We are quite familiar with the stuff. Oh, and we really care a lot.

In a CIA memorandum concerning Iraq using gas against Iran, dated 2/24/84, approved for release 4/27/09, paragraph 2 says:

"The mustard program was successful, resulting in at least a small-scale production capability and a stockpile of perhaps 70 agent tons by mid-1983. The nerve-agent program lagged behind the mustard program, although small quantities of lethal nerve agent have been produced and tested."

The "enemy of my enemy..." scenario gets played over and over. It's a proven moneymaker. This gospel is a component part of the Western World's relentless and ever-so-classy hegemonic obligation to tame these damn savages by selling both sides the tools necessary to destroy each other. Sticks and stones are cheaper but not nearly as profitable.

America sold VX nerve gas and anthrax to Iraq for years, even after the Halabja gas attack, which killed thousands of Kurds. Remember that one? That was part of the patter used by pro-occupy and pro-slaughter people to justify America's invasion of Iraq. "Saddam gassed the Kurds, man!" Yes he did, and we helped.

If the use of poison gas is a "red line" for action -- as the president recently described it -- then why does America make it? Does America make it to show that it can? Why would you make anything if you were not either going to use it or sell it to someone who would? For research purposes, of course.

America was cool with Saddam Hussein when he was killing Iranians. We were more than happy to take his money and sell him lethal agents that have no other purpose at all other than to kill.

Over the decades, weapon manufacturers from all over the world were pleased as punch to take Saddam's money. A short list of countries that sold tons of humanity-annihilating hardware to Iraq: France, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, China, England, Spain, Egypt, Austria, Poland, South Africa, Jordan. Talk about fattening the calf for slaughter. What a scam! Or, nice work if you can get it, as they say.

I think it would be fantastic if all murder and mayhem in Syria abruptly stopped, but we humans don't roll that way. There is too much money to be made, too much face to be saved and too much hubris to be drowning in for all that flouncing, nellie-boy peace stuff.

Will any American president ever have the spine to momentarily suspend the pleasantly scented words of diplomacy, look right down the barrel of a camera and let it rip?

People of the world, take notice. We are the Death Star. Slavery. Extermination of indigenous people. Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- ring a bell? Napalm, Agent Orange, cluster bombs; Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. We didn't even care about winning! We just get off on this shit. Death is our area of expertise and greatest export item! From bugs to vegetation to anything with lungs -- we can neutralize it! We can render entire species extinct! Our 2013 models are amazing and what we have in the pipeline will blow your fucking minds -- and kill you!

This is what we call MAD, or "mutually assured destruction." That is to say, we both know that America can fucking destroy you. We don't feel your pain. We cause it, fuckface! So be cool, or don't. Really doesn't matter, does it? We've just built an embassy in Hell! Kickass! Hey! I stirred your drink with my dick! Funny, right?! In closing -- fuck all y'all! God bless the United States of America. (Cue Stars & Stripes backscreen, pyro and "Cat Scratch Fever" at ear-shattering volume as POTUS exits frame.)

The point I am making is that it's a bit much when America puts on the whitest of white hats while it warns the "bad guys" that it will use force and potentially kill people to make them stop killing other people. I would like to see different approaches to resolving future (and you know they're coming) conflicts.

To me, that is more gutsy than any drone strike and a high bar that America could totally rock.

America's extremely selective good-guy thing is extraordinarily hypocritical and phony. I would like to hear the president go long on what's happening in the Republic of Congo, weigh in on affairs on the border between Northern and Southern Sudan, talk about what's happening in Tibet.

If you're going to put on that white hat, you need to acknowledge its immense weight and that it takes several other countries to share the carry. To think you can do it alone is foolish.

Yet shiny, happy citizens like Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kristol and Wolfowitz insist that is precisely America's role in the world. This is ancient, Cold War thinking, like burning witches and denying health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions.

Unless you enjoy the unsustainable and unwieldy task of being the world's cop and endless war, then it's time to get on to different ways of doing business. I think we are more than ready.

If the use of poison gas is a "red line" for action -- as the president recently described it -- then why does America make it?

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