Md. Rep. Chris Van Hollen speaks from 1988 Iraq gas experience in backing Syrian strike - The Washington Post
“I have always found it cruelly ironic that the United States and the world did nothing when Saddam Hussein actually used chemical weapons against his people, and then wrongly went to war more than 15 years later when Saddam Hussein did not even have any chemical weapons,” Van Hollen said.
Today, Van Hollen wants to make sure Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad doesn’t escape punishment as Saddam did in 1988. He is helping to lead the effort to round up congressional support to authorize President Obama to carry out air and missile strikes to deter Syria — and others — from using poison gas again.
Even Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler refrained from using chemical weapons on the battlefield.
“I’m well aware of the argument that this was a bloody civil war in which over 100,000 people have already been killed. Some people ask, ‘What’s the difference?’ ” Van Hollen said.
“But there is a reason that the international community for almost 90 years has banned the use of poison gas. That’s because it’s a weapon of mass destruction that kills indiscriminately,” he said.
He noted that last month’s gas attack killed more people at one time than any other assaults during the Syrian fighting.
“I strongly believe that if the United States and the international community had taken some action [in 1988], then it would have reined in Saddam Hussein early on, that the failure to act emboldened Saddam Hussein to take reckless action, including the invasion of Kuwait,” Van Hollen said.