The US dropped atom bombs on Japan. It used Napalm and highly toxic Agent Orange
defoliant in Vietnam. It used white phosphorous --"Shake & Bake"-- in Iraq. So why
worry about Assad using sarin gas and inflammable chemical agents in Syria especially
since the US has been unwinding war exposure? Well, chemical warfare, although
very risky, is underestimated as a weapon and stands as a terrific instrument of terror.
Now that Assad, in a fight to the death with Sunni rebels, has opened and deployed
from his chemical warfare goodies box, the seals have been broken and the security and
further use of the weapons have no taboos.
Big dogs can take out Assad's air force, missiles and heavy weapons or at the least fully
neutralize them. Securing the chemical stuff is a very different matter, particularly if the
US or others want to neutralize it. Putin, acting grandly as the champion of Assad, should
be saying : "Holy shit, the Chechens could get this stuff and use it on us." Ditto Iran,
which will have to fear another Sunni led chemical weapons attack if this stuff gets out.
Then there are the obvious dangers to the US, Europe's capitals, Israel and Syria's other
So far, the big dogs seem willing to let this civil war, based on some of the deepest hatreds
known to man, play out and perhaps end with a ghastly conflagration. Obama has been
stumbling along with the chemical warfare issue and has invited the Congress to debate
whether the US should strike Assad and his men via cruise missile attacks. Of course
a debate will be an ugly affair and mostly beside the point when the world's focus should
be on those horrendous weapons. We can only hope this debate will further enlighten people
to the dangers involved as the war grinds on and how big a challenge we will face if
those weapons are not neutralized and fall into the wrong hands. If control is lost as it
may well be, we can look forward to having Amazon eventually put up pages of sharp
fashion, anti-toxic chemical suits with matching masks and sneakers.
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!