Forget the crocodile tears of Western leaders. This is about unseating a leader who opposes Western designs in the Middle East (albeit Assad is an incredibly brutal dictator).
Here’s Australian intellectual Scott Burchill:
How genuine is the West’s concerns about the use of chemical weapons in Syria five days ago? Not very, I suspect.To illustrate my pessimism, how did the West respond to Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against the Kurds of Halabja on 17 March, 1988 when over 5,000 people were poisoned. Outrage, condemnation, missile attacks? The opposite.First, Washington disingenuously blamed Iran – knowing exactly who was actually responsible. They then continued to shower Saddam with “$5 billion in food credits, technology, and industrial products, most coming after it began to use mustard, cyanide, and nerve gases against both Iranians and dissident Kurds” (historian Gabriel Kolko). After the attack on Halabja Saddam was further rewarded by George Bush 1 with new lines of credit and praise from Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly, who described the monster as “a source of moderation in the region.”Twenty months after this horrific crime, Washington was still providing Baghdad with dual-use licensed materials, including chemical precursors, biological warfare-related materials and missile guidance equipment – enabling Saddam to initially develop his WMD programs.During the worst decade of Saddam’s rule (1980-90), the UK sold Iraq £2.3 billion in machinery and transport equipment and £3.5 billion in trade credits, supporting the creation of a local arms industry and freeing up valuable resources for the Iraqi military. London responded to the atrocity in Halabja by failing to criticise Saddam (ditto for Washington), doubling export credits to Baghdad and relaxing export guidelines making it easier to sell arms to Iraq.In Australia, a search of Hansard for the year 1988 reveals no expressions of concern about the chemical attacks by Iraq. Nothing at all.The US and UK might respond to public pressure and “do something” terrible to Syria, but it will not be out of any humanitarian concern felt in Washington or London about the use of chemical weapons.