The taboo on chemical weapons doesn’t seem to apply to making and selling other instruments of mass destruction
Peter Beaumont says of chemical weapons that “the idea that other weapons are equally deadly misses the point, which is that we have decided that this class of killing – like the wanton murder of civilians and shooting prisoners – is beyond the pale” (Poison gas has been taboo for a century. It must remain so, 19 April). However, he misses a wider context himself – that the world order is one in which stronger nations use their military and economic power to subdue weaker ones with impunity. As long as this is the case, less strong countries will use whatever means come to hand to try to level the playing field; much like a resistance movement does to a foreign occupier. We don’t, for instance, condemn the Maquis their second world war excesses in murdering captured German soldiers.
The obvious answer to stopping the use of chemical weapons is to strengthen global multilateral bodies like the UN, and give them greater powers to regulate and conciliate international disputes. Donald Trump wants to degrade the UN and starve it of funds. The US will no doubt have much greater “success” in its anti-UN endeavour than its token strikes against supposed chemical weapons facilities in Syria will have in stopping the proliferation and further use of chemical weapons.