Carbon dioxide, Cole says, is "a far more deadly gas" than what was used in "the gas attack in Syria on April 4."
His basic argument is encapsulated in the headline of his recent article in The Nation:
The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions
If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn't be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere –Juan Cole
You see, it's about drought. Yeah, that's the ticket. It's the drought that caused everything to go wrong in Syria.
Oh, yes, and Trump is to blame. Plus, he's a hypocrite for bombing a Syrian base to stop more chemical weapon attacks because Trump doesn't also agree with Al Gore on climate change. If you can follow that logic, check with your doctor. If you agree with it, apply to graduate studies with Prof. Cole at Michigan.
Again, to quote the professor:
The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country's 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe's refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution. –Juan Cole
Comment: Notice that, in the fine print, Cole relegates the drought to a much more ambiguous status. It "made a contribution" to the humanitarian disaster, he now says. How much contribution? He refuses to say.
Yet the whole point of the article is that carbon dioxide in Syria is more deadly than poison gas attacks, which are war crimes (for good reasons). In short, the article is bait-and-switch, seasoned with hyperbole, political correctness, and a steadfast refusal to look true evil in the eye.
The most appropriate comment comes from the movie, Billy Madison. It is pitch perfect for Prof. Cole's analysis:
In other words, a drought may have contributed, indirectly, to the carnage in Syria. But to emphasize it as a major cause is misleading, tendentious, and wrong.
To put it differently, California had multiple years of drought and, according to recent statistics, the civil war there has claimed far fewer than 400,000 lives. Perhaps under 300,000.
Hey, let's at least give Jerry Brown some credit for avoiding barrel bombs in the Central Valley. So far.
Hat Tip: Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch. They found the Cole article and publicized it. Kudos.
Tom Blumer at NewsBusters, who initially publicized the article.