Syria, the “red line” and morality: Some wider reflections – John Gelmini

An MC-1 gas bomb

An MC-1 gas bomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf says the UN disarmament Commissioner has come up with a very balanced view but we are as yet no nearer to knowing who initiated the Sarin gas attack in Syria.

Nor are we any nearer to getting balanced treatment for so called war crimes and actual ones over the past 100 years.

The Germans were the first to use poison gas in World War 1 and were condemned by the British who said they would never use it but were interested in the effectiveness of the new German weapon.

Britain enthusiastically started to use gas despite our earlier moralistic posturing about the “Beastly Hun”until the Battle of Loos where the wind changed and we gassed our own men en masse.

Mussolini used poison gas in Abysinnia during the 1930s and Churchill imposed sanctions which resulted in people like my late parents being forced to eat black bread during the Depression years before 1939.

We used it in the Middle East in the 1920s against rebellious tribesmen and Churchill wanted to use it in World War 2 against Hitler but was warned not to.

This warning was not about what would have been a breach of the Treaty which forbids the use of such chemical weapons but about the realpolitik of potential retaliation.

General Ito and Emperor Hirohito were not tried as war criminals like certain of the Nazis. Instead, the Americans were interested in the results of General Ito’s work which included using tethered POWs as targets for gas and biological warfare experiments and seeing how long it took each prisoner to die.

Agent Orange is a chemical weapon and was used extensively in Vietnam which ended in 1976, where to this day babies are born deformed and land which once used to grow crops is still being reclaimed.

In Falluja in Iraq, the Americans used White Phosphorous which the Geneva Convention says must not be used in civilian areas but can be used for clearing brush and dense undergrowth in an open battlefield situation which is not built up or populated.

Israel used White Phosphorus in Gaza a densely built up area and thus committed war crimes but for some reason they are condemned a lot less than other people.

During the Iraq war, we used depleted uranium shells, which when combined with other chemicals, possibly released by our bombing, caused Gulf War syndrome which affected Coalition troops and Iraqis alike.


What this little trip down memory lane shows is that when it suits us we use chemical and biological weapons and in fact we are making and storing them at Porton Down near Salisbury to this day.

America has a similar facility at Fort Detrick and is even reputed to have made a bio ethnic weapon which only kills non white people.

We are presumably doing this purely for defensive purposes and would never use any of our stockpiles of these weapons because we would not want to breach the Treaty we have signed up to or be guilty at some date in the future of committing a war crime?


The reality of the civil war there is that we, America, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to topple Iran and to do that we have to remove Syria first.

We are already involved in that war using special forces and probably mercenaries doing our bidding at arms length, but are losing to Assad and his Iranian proxies.

The Sarin Gas attack provides a “red line” for America and would have done for us but people are tired of wars without end and risking the lives of our young men for no good reason.

For once, Cameron and the Westminster elite were given a drubbing and rightly so, but I am under no illusion that they will simply forget what happened.

They will instead, go away and find a means to get their way through stealth and subterfuge.

John Gelmini

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Half of high street retailers in danger of closing down – Telegraph

This is an important and MUST READ article from the Telegraph. Check it out!

via Half of high street retailers in danger of closing down – Telegraph.

In many respects retailing is an anachronism in need of major transformation.

Once again, it highlights that David Cameron’s government has no industry strategy and is reliant on financial services and austerity to stimulate the economy, along with Government guarantees for home loans.

Small businesses have been crippled by bureaucracy from the EU and hostile local authorities with aggressive rating strategies. Of course, the late Margaret Thatcher would have been able to empathize with the retailing challenge because of her corner shop background; this is in sharp contrast, with the privileged backgrounds of David Cameron, George Osborne and friends at the Conservative Party Central Office who seem to favor gays and minorities.

Since 2008, the banks have been excessively hard on lending to small businesses, and now with government guarantees backing home loan mortgages, banks are again neglecting the  finance of small businesses. The banks are typically managed by vast bureaucracies, with relatively few who understand the retail sector anyway. In the past, local bank managers knew their local retail customers well and could vouch for their bona fides. These days it’s all about business plans.

Many large retailers have lost their way because of indifferent customer service, employing vast armies of poorly educated assistants who are pre-occupied with their iPhones  and don’t like being distracted by customers. In supermarkets stacking shelves in prime time seems to get preference over helping customers locate goods.

Enormous opportunities for retailing have been missed by the UK Government. The armies of wealthy Chinese tourists prefer the US or the Eurozone because visas restrictions are more onerous entering the UK; also customer service in the UK seems to have been subordinated. London has some of the most famous shops in the World, like Harrods and Selfridges but wealthy Chinese seem to prefer London, Rome, New York and Los Angeles; does the UK Government know why? Do you remember when shop assistants were experts in the products that they were selling and could communicate with their customers? What about Government policy to encourage language training, especially Mandarin? To put it in perspective, when I was in Beijing, China,  last year, Chinese shop-assistants were able to sell impressively in both English and Russian.

Retailing is in many respects a dead-duck industry, like the many sections of UK manufacturing; the internet has

Margaret Thatcher

Cover of Margaret Thatcher

radically changed the customer interface and reduced transaction costs enormously.

Of course, the austerity policies of George Osborne have not helped. If the Government cut VAT, retailing would get an enormous stimulus.

Ultimately, the failure of retailing is down to Government policy of David Cameron’s government, in my view.

Do you remember when the Conservative Party used to be regarded as the pro-business party? Quaint?

Any thoughts?

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