Can anyone recall a single moment of greater nonsense in international affairs than the one the world is living right now, as the UN inspectors examine the gas-attack victims in Syria and the chemicals used and give us their verdict? A half-dozen nations, including the U.S. and Britain, stand ready to attack if this reddest of red lines -- the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons -- is crossed, and it all depends on a group of scientists.
Of course, the scientists will find evidence of the gas, and the Assad regime will say, "Hold on. That's XYZ sarin, and all our sarin is type ABC. Here: take a few liters straight out of our stockpile and see for yourselves."
And then some savant from -- oh, let's take some nice, quiet, neutral picturesque place -- from Israel will say, "That's true, but you can easily make XYZ from ABC. All you need to do is add a little JKL and a dash of salt -- all stuff you can buy at the local drugstore -- and you're there."
And just to be sure that this Israeli is not talking out the Netanyahu side of his mouth, another talking head from -- oh, let's take a nice, quiet, neutral place that runs a mile from anything military -- from M.I.T. will confirm that this is true, and add the opinion, "Y'know, if I wanted to gas my people and I had ABC sarin, this is exactly how I'd disguise it." And off we go to war.
It's instructive to remember a couple of things as we await the learned words of the UN scientists. First, the Syrian government is now winning the war. Russia continues to help out with arms, Hezbollah has sent their seasoned fighters. Things are looking up. What need is there to bring in deadly gas? The only element that could galvanize public opinion beyond Syria's borders -- and the mainstream media is really whacking the old drum -- is the use of chemical weapons. Even the Syrian military brass could not be that stupid.
Second, where did the major chemical attack occur? In some distant village accessible only by donkey? No, it took place just a short drive from downtown Damascus. Medecins Sans Frontieres had no people in the area, but hospital doctors contacted them and gave them details. Nice of them.
Third, when did this gas attack happen? As the rebels were gathering for a final assault on Damascus? Was this attack the Assad regime's last desperate attempt to hold on to power?