There is something particularly horrific about chemical weapons — which is why the reports of Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens are especially appalling.
It seems odd to argue that one way of inflicting death is “better” or more civilized than another, and a massacre of unarmed people is a massacre whether it is accomplished by gunfire or some other means. And yet . . . the use of chemical weapons seems to be uniquely wanton, indefensible and barbaric. The indiscriminate way in which poison gas reaches its victims, and the ugly and painful circumstances of the resulting death, with victims convulsing and foaming at the mouth, all reflect a murderous mindset of a government that no longer feels bound by the conventions of modern society and will lash out and kill without cause or purpose.
Any government that would use chemical weapons on its own citizens, killing innocent women and children in the process, has lost any pretense of legitimacy. I’ve written before of how the United Nations has become a hollow force in the modern world, incapable of preventing mass killings or effectively shielding those unfortunates who trust in its promises of protection. The Syrian situation may be the acid test, however. If the UN cannot lead effective international action against a criminal government that has used chemical weapons against its own people, why should it exist at all?