{{show_title_date || "Rewriting the reality of death in war, 9/10/13, 11:10 PM ET"}}

O’Donnell: ‘War is the breakdown of civilization’


With the United States weighing military intervention in Syria, Lawrence O’Donnell took a closer look at one of the reasons for the proposed missile strikes. “The single weakest argument I’ve heard for military intervention in Syria is that death from sarin is a uniquely horrifying form of death, uniquely inhumane,” O’Donnell said in his rewrite segment Tuesday night.

Using the example of napalm, an explosive developed during World War II, O’Donnell made the case that there are “many forms of killing that can be more inhumane than sarin gas.” He began by describing napalm’s unique ability to kill.

“Napalm attaches to human flesh in a way that is impossible to remove. But it kills in other ways…you can be killed by suffocation. You can be killed simply by breathing in carbon monoxide poison.”

Susan Rice and others in favor of military action have argued that chemical weapons, unlike other conventional weapons, are more destructive. The MSNBC host countered these assertions by saying, “How do we judge the quality of death in warfare? By the elapsed time from initial wound to death? By the pain level? I don’t think there’s a reasonable way to make that evaluation.”

In the last two years over 100,000 people have died in Syria.  AK-47’s and mortars have taken lives on both sides of the Syrian civil war, and according to President Obama the use of chemical weapons killed over 1,000 people.  While the effect of chemical weapons is truly horrifying, O’Donnell stressed that all means of killing are horrifying.  “The red line suggests that there are civilized and uncivilized ways of death in war. But war is not civilized.  War is the breakdown of civilization.”