Chemical Weapons Atrocities: Then & Now
2:26 PM, Aug 22, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, has expressed herself on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime in Syria. Her venue was Twitter:
Eloquent and forceful, given the limitations of the form, Ms. Power’s words recall those from another time when the aggressors were gassing innocents and appeals were made to the world’s assembled nations to … do something.
In June of 1936, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selaisse, made a speech to the League of Nations, imploring it to take action to rescue his nation and its people who had been invaded, overrun, and occupied by Italy under the rule of Benito Mussolini whose troops had made liberal use of mustard gas against soldiers and civilians. In the speech he told his audience that the Italians’
The League, of course, did nothing. This, despite the fact that Mussolini was a tinpot tyrant at the head of a pushover army. Why else would he even need to use mustard gas against the Ethiopians? But the great European powers – France and Great Britain – declined to act and the United States did not belong to the League and was not, in any case, inclined to get involved in far off struggles. So, a few years later the whole world was at war.
Mussolini’s use of gas was in clear violation of international treaties which means, presumably, that he crossed some kind of “red line.” But he got away with it and outlived the impotent League of Nations.
Now, we have the United Nations and the United States is among its members.
That much has changed.
To what effect remains to be seen.
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