By DAVID KIMMEL
---- — Syria is a big deal. We must act decisively without further delay.
It is extremely difficult for a terror organization to produce highly efficient and effective weapons of mass destruction. However, the problems usually associated with the development of such weapons have all been addressed by the Syrian government.
There, we have large chemical stockpiles that were developed using the resources to address purity, dissemination efficiency, etc., in a way that terrorist organizations cannot. They have the controls necessary to correct or avoid the problems associated with clandestine labs. They also have money to entice scientists and weapons specialists who are more inclined to consider their government’s quest for such weapons to be legitimate.
The result is that they can openly produce more lethal weapons in abundance. And in Syria, they have.
The Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan used a poorly constructed weapon that killed several people and harmed hundreds. There are technical reasons that attack wasn’t more harmful than it was.
However, the same is not true of the Syrian weapons. Just one little piece of the guts of some of their weapons can create a WMD sufficient to harm thousands.
In Syria, there exists, therefore, an irresistible garden of high-quality WMDs ripe for the taking. Further, the terrorists who desire such things are already there and have been for decades.
We wish we lived in a world where such things do not exist. We would prefer not to have to worry about the problem, but the consequences of taking that approach to our security would be devastating.
Therefore, we have organizations such as the anti-terrorism team that I was in that spend their lives predicting and analyzing the threat and are capable of responding when it strikes.
In the case of binary chemical weapons — the type of Syrian weapons that have been in the news lately — most of the components are legal to possess anywhere in the world. You shouldn’t be shocked at all when I tell you that many of the components of binary weapons are available in bulk at the local hardware store.
So, once in the hands of terrorists, it’s very easy to get the kinds of weapons Syria has into our back yard. While countries like the United States have spent a great deal to develop methods of detecting nuclear material coming through our ports and borders, we have done very little to protect ourselves against chemical and biological attacks, which are far more likely.
Assad will fall. When he does, and unless we act, the whole world becomes a target of opportunity for acts of terror.
Further, we are almost certainly supporting rebels in Syria, who are ambiguous about the West at best and antagonistic in some cases. In the same way that Morsi is revealing himself to be a tyrant in Egypt, there are those hoping to seize the reins of power in Syria who also have their own scores to settle with the people around them — and the world at large.
What makes U.S. involvement in the situation so critical is that there are very few real options for destroying or safeguarding Syrian WMDs produced at such a high level, even if there is a regime change.
No doubt there are those reading this who will remember General Powell’s presentation to the United Nations about WMDs in Iraq and will fear this is another case of “the sky is falling.” Perhaps there are even those who will imagine I am simply a hawk about these things. Both would be wrong.
Remember, for decades, Syria has been a state sponsor of terror. They have been a safe haven for those who would do us harm. Their weapon stockpiles are quite real. These facts are not in dispute.
To ensure our safety, the United States must do more than posture. Quite simply, we must bomb the snot out of Syrian stockpiles, using weapons specifically developed for that purpose. We have such weapons.
It must be done now, as a separate act for the good of the world, irrespective of Assad or the rebels. It is the mantle that has fallen on us at this time in history.
David Kimmel, who lives in Cadyville, is a former member of the elite Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support community and 9-11 responder. He has advised and taught domestic and international terrorism response, particularly regarding WMDs, for first-responders and decision-makers at every level of government.