How should the West respond to Syria

The NATO Allies are sure that the Syrian regime unleashed chemical weapons against the civilian population and rebel fighters. Russia denies it, and Inspectors may go in to see for themselves what evidence remains from the violence some days later. President Obama made the use of chemical ordnance a red line Assad should not cross, but then decided not to take action when he did. President Trump also made it a red line, and followed a previous case of presumed chemical weapon use with a single surgical strike. This has not deterred the latest incident.

The West is now seeking to establish good evidence of what it believes has taken place, and is considering its military options. These are limited and constrained by circumstance, and by the history of the West leaving much of the Syrian theatre to a combination of Assad and Russian power to deal with Isis. No-one can credibly claim that killing more Syrians is the missing policy in this dreadful conflict that could start to put things right. There have been all too many deaths already, and the West will not wish to add to the death toll of civilians. Taking on the Assad regime and its troops is an unlikely mission, as they are strong on the ground, battle hardened, and understand the people and the terrain. It would entail a huge effort by the West including an invasion. When tried elsewhere the problem has been how to create a replacement government that is stable, has authority and is democratic in such circumstances. Supporting the rebel forces against Assad with air power would be a dangerous mission pitting the West against Russia who would continue to support Assad. There is no evidence that there is a well armed and substantial rebel force with a chance of winning against Assad and Russia who could also create a stable and good government in the end.

This seems to leave Mr Trump with using missiles and smart bombs to destroy known military installations, weapons dumps and any chemical weapons facilities that they have identified. Even this will require great precision and care not to harm people who live near to these facilities, and to deal with any attempt by the regime to organise actual or fake damage to release as bad news following any attacks. Mr Trump may like to involve France and the UK in any such attack to show this is a wider Western alliance action, undertaken by three members of the UN Security Council. It cannot however be done in the name of the UN as Russia has vetoed a proposed resolution on this Syrian atrocity.

NATO needs to ensure that if it does fly missions by fast jets, or send in drones or missiles, it does so without creating a military exchange with Russia. The military airspace over Syria is often used by Syrian and Russian planes. Events can happen quickly when fast jets from Russia and NATO are seeking to use limited airspace for different purposes, and when the fast jets can close on each other with each flying at speeds well in excess of 1000 miles an hour.

What should the UK do? It should of course work with our NATO allies. With them we have condemned any use of chemical weapons, and with them we can examine the options. I also trust the UK will be a sane voice wanting us to act effectively where we can, rather than demanding action to reveal our anger even if there is no action that is likely to have a good outcome.

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173 Comments

  1. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    This issue is frightening indeed John. Its how world wars are started and often the results are worse than doing nothing. The middle east is a huge problem and always will be but I can’t see that limited military action will have a positive effect. Mrs May is going to need strong and sensible advice but God knows where that will come from. Russia is clearly flouting all decency both in Syria and on our own soil but dealing with it needs a clear head so that we avoid something so much worse for us all. Isn’t it about time countries like Saudi started to become more involved in their own regions?

    • zorro
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Clearly? Nonsense! We are facilitating the headchoppers- nothing more nothing less. It’s a disgrace.

      zorro

    • Mark B
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Isn’t it about time countries like Saudi started to become more involved in their own regions?

      They already are in Yemen. And look at the results. Strangely our kind host and media are silent on this.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Saudi is heavily involved-funding and arming and,in Yemen, bombing but for all their huge spending on advanced military equipment,no-one believes they would be effective on their own against their battle-hardened neighbours.

    • getahead
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Nothing clear about it Fedup. I get the feeling that much of what we hear is anti Russian propaganda put out to justify the continued existence of the out-of-date NATO. There never seems to be anything beyond likelihood, in these allegations.
      Nothing to justify going to war au Blair.

    • Stop the war!
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Russia has just said they will stop selling titanium to Boeing if these sanctions go through. We really need to see these sanctions as the Russians do, they are designed to provoke a war. Yes, PROVOKE A WAR. There is really no going back from this road we are on now. What does this remind you of? People need to wake up fast, the UK and US govts have gone FULL ROGUE. But especially the UK govt. Macron is just a silly kid. Something needs to be done urgently. The intellectuals, journalists, philosophers and poets need to meet up and form an emergency government in waiting. I trust this is what John and others are upto?

  2. Mick
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    The only alternative is to pull out all countries not Syrian put up a buffer zone and let them get on with it , after all they’ve been killing each other out there in the name of religion for thousands of years and it’s never going to stop, the last thing the world needs is super powers coming to blows over this mess, it’s been 100 years since the end of the Great War what humanity doesn’t want is a war which would bring all nations in and wipe us all off the face of this planet

    • Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Well said, Mick. It seems harsh, but the West never has understood the Arab mind. They seem to hate one another more than they hate us.
      Perhaps it would be best to allow Assad to ‘win’ and then see how the situation develops and try to ameliorate it then – jaw-jaw being better than war-war. It wouldn’t be a quick fix, but innocents are going to die anyway.

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just a question of the Arabs – but the Turks and Persians/Iranians also-all have ruled here;and,historically, Russia claimed to be the protector of christians in these Ottoman(formerly Byzantine)lands.To talk about the Shia vs Sunni divide in this region as being the root of the problems is far too simplistic(both the Turks and Kurds are Sunni for instance).And the people who brought the greatest destruction,historically, to the region,the Mongols,were etc.

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Genesis 16:11:
      11 The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. 12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Mick:

      Well said indeed! We have more than done our share in trying to save the world, and fat thanks we’ve got for it. Time to say ‘enough is enough’!

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Not an easy decision at at all. I certainly do not have access to enough information to decide on the best course of action or otherwise. As you say we need a sane voice, acting only when it can improve the situation (and in the long term).

    This rather than demanding perhaps pointless or damaging actions when we can do nothing that is likely to have a good outcome.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Trump by Tweet doesn’t sound like a sane voice to me.

      • Student
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        At least he poses a credible threat to maniacs.

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          You approve of Presidency by tweet ???

          • NickC
            Posted April 13, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Anon, Why should the PotUS be excluded from tweeting?

    • eeyore
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      There’s always the feeling, “What would I do?”, but the decision is not ours. Going to war is the gravest matter a PM is faced with. In this particular case, possible outcomes are incalculable and very serious.

      Never will Mrs May feel more the loneliness of power. I hope all will sympathise as she wrestles with her heavy burden.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        The worrying thing is that nearly every other decision T May has made – on the economy, ever more regulation, price controls, the transition period, voting remain, endless tax increases, the greencrap, Hinkley, HS2, an election with a ‘we will kick our supporters in the teeth manifesto”, ruling out a points based immigration system, the go home immigrants advert trucks, the nasty party speech, the gender pay drivel, the building on EU workers’ rights, the dire NHS failure to act, P Hammond as Chancellor, Boris as Foreign Secretary (he is a good chap but not the best in this role) ….. have all been very profoundly wrong!

        The omens are not at all encouraging.

        • Mitchel
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          I see Boris’s foolish Hitler Olympics comparison has come back to bite him with Sergey Lavrov sending him a picture of the England football team giving the Nazi salute at a 1938 match in Berlin!

        • NickC
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          LL, I thought that David Cameron was Ted Heath but without the brains. But Mrs May doesn’t even have Cameron’s brains. Frankly Cameron would have been better, at least in dealing with Brexit – he could hardly have been worse. However, I suppose over Syria, May’s indecisive nature caps Cameron’s little boy sword waving.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

            I never thought Heath had very much brain. Yet another Oxford PPE person and like most of them he clearly had no understanding of economics (with his inflation, three day week and his absurd prices and incomes policy). He was totally dishonest to the electorate over the “common market” and did not even consult them He was an electoral disaster too. I suppose he was good at remembering things and playing the organ. But to me “having a brain” means thinking, understanding and making sensible decisions.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          The problem, i think, is the Tories aren’t attracting enough smart and business-savvy politicians (there are some but we need far more).

          The media (both left and right) is partly, perhaps mainly, to blame. We’ve got, to a certain degree, an ugly aggressive media that puts people off from becoming politicians.

          Somehow we’ve got to radically transform the media. Not just for the sake of politics and the Conservative Party (and all parties) but also for the well-being of the country in general.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

            The leadership do not listen or use to the few sensible and sound MPs they have. If they did they would have avoided all very, very the many mistakes they have made.

        • Stred
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          You forgot the end to stop and search, having police looking for perceived unfriendlyness and the murder rate exceeding New York and accusing the Russian State without evidence.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

            Indeed.

        • Janet Tanner-Tremain
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          You forget that although the final decision is hers, she does not act alone because she has a competent team around her. Unfortunately she has to put up with Corbyn and his ilk siding with Assad and Putin. I see from Iranian web page that Cuba, Belarus, Hezbollah – to name but a few of his “friends” have all criticised the coalition bombing of strategic targets where chemical weapons have been manufactured, stockpiled and fired from in Syria. Corbyn is a fool and more than that, Putin happy fool.

      • June has come
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Mrs May should not be making any decision whatsoever in regard to whether we go to war.

        The fact that she and her gang could even contemplate even any military action over allegedly 40 odd people being killed in a civil war absolutely nothing to do with us when so many people are being killed murdered by our allies in the region shows she is illogical to put it mildly.

        We didn’t vote for her to meddle in foreign countries. Cromwell nor his royal opponent would not have tolerated, if possible then, an intervention by Syria. They would have united against Syria temporarily and blown it to kingdom come. No survivors!!!! Then proceeded with OUR civil war.

      • Dennisa
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        But there is no need to go to war. She need not feel lonely, I believe the majority of the British people would support her, if she followed the Merkel approach on this one.

    • getahead
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Ll,
      you do however have access to common sense which must be telling you not get involved

      • Lifelogic.
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        That is indeed is my inclination. We should only act if we are certain our actions will make things better. I can see little evidence they would.

  4. Know-Dice
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    For me the question is – Would Western involvement prolong the suffering of the Syrian people ?

    We really don’t know enough about the “rebels” are they good rebels or bad rebels?

    Are they actually any better than Assad in the long run?

    • Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Very succinct, Know Dice. They’re all brutes, it seems, and care nothing for the ‘ordinary’ people. The so-called ‘rebels’ don’t have the welfare of civilian pawns at heart, do they? They must be just as capable as any other faction of making an attack look as if it were perpetrated by the other side for propaganda purposes. Nothing easier, I’d have thought.

      When you’re burnt and dying, I don’t suppose you really care which side it was who dropped the bomb Just as many civilians will go on suffering as collateral damage if the West gets involved. And then there will more even more waves of refugees…..

      If Assad is deposed (even though he was ‘’elected’’ by the Syrian people) who will replace him?

    • Mark B
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      There have been ‘external actors’ agitating the large Sunni majority in Syria for sometime.

      President Assad is not a Sunni. In fact, some believe that he is not even a Muslim.

      • zorro
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        But the SAA is largely Sunni and loyal too…. Those who like to point to the supposed sectarian nature of ths conflict should bear this in mind. zorro

      • rose
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        He is an Alawite.

      • Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        That’s one of the problems. Sadam was a trifle secular, I understand. Perhaps Assad is too. Why can’t we in the West work with that?

        Look at ”before and after” photographs of Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc, (widely circulated) and see how they’ve changed over the past few years in living memory.

      • Janet Tanner-Tremain
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Heard somewhere that he is an “Alawite?” whatever that means…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed and probably not.

    • Dennisa
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      They are probably “good” rebels, because we have been funding them, as we fund conflicts around the world:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/conflict-stability-and-security-fund-cssf/conflict-stability-and-security-fund-an-overview

      A recent Parliamentary Question from Baroness Caroline Cox, revealed that the FCO has financed the Syrian “opposition” for three years through the CSSF:

      “The value of the CSSF for Syria is £69 million in the current financial year, was £64 million in 2016-17, and £66 million in 2015-16.” – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, FCO.

  5. eeyore
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    A profound analysis, and a thought provoking one. Nonetheless, Mrs May’s course is constrained. President Trump gave generous support to Britain over the Salisbury poisoning. Given the personalities, who can doubt this is now payback time?

    Mrs May appears willing to take military action without a Parliamentary vote. She is right. Parliament cannot be fully informed on security matters. It should not be HMG’s stalking horse.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      How many panes of glass in the UK has President Assad broken ?

      If none, then we are the aggressor.

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      War against Syria, for that is what it will be if the UK makes military strikes inside an internationally recognised sovereign nation, and possibly against Russia, is absolutely a case for debate and a vote in Parliament.

      When will we stop pretending we are an international policeman? Indeed when will we stop being so selective? – there are hideous things going on around the world yet the MSM fails to even report most of it, let alone agitate for UK military strikes.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      There is still no proof that Russia was behind the Salisbury incident and the official British story line about Salisbury does not ring true .

      Linking Salisbury to Syria is much the same as linking 9/11 to Sadam Hussein – a false construct designed to facilitate Western aggression .

      What you say about payback time for Mr Trump’s support over Salisbury is very perceptive .

      Perhaps Mrs May should not have tried to salvage her terminally sinking political career at the expense of Russia so vociferously .

      Once again she has put her political survival ahead of the best interests of the country and indeed World .

      Unless this menacing woman is stopped , she is going to be on such an almighty roll that it is sure to end in disaster on a massive scale .

      It frightens me that you think the decision to pull the trigger should be taken by the executive rather than parliament as a whole .

    • Janet Tanner-Tremain
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Well said Eeyore

  6. Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Well, wouldn’t it be interesting, for a change, if we tried diplomacy …

    What’s really going on here, we have to ask ourselves, because we have great difficultiy in believing that (A) our governments would start a war with Russia at the tip of a hat, (B) some powerful influence isn’t pulling the strings..
    The real question is, WHO will benefit for this escalation of tensions?

    • Peter
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      You will not get an open discussion of ‘who will benefit’ on here though.

      • APL
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Peter: “You will not get an open discussion of ‘who will benefit’ on here though.”

        You will not get an open discussion on here.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        I agree with the both of you on ALL your points.

    • zorro
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, which country would benefit from further ongoing destabilisation of countries around it, whilst ignoring its murder of unarmed civilians? Can anyone help with that?

      • APL
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        zorro: “Can anyone help with that?”

        I used to live in Saudi Arabia for about five years. If there was a map of the world on the wall, there was always one country who’s name had been blacked out.

        How things have changed, today that country is in a defacto alliance with Saudi Arabia.

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Does the government have any comment on the violation of Lebanese airspace by that unmentionable country for it’s attack on Syria earlier this week?

        • Death of the Oak
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          Have you heard any numbers given for casualties inflicted by Turkey, America and indeed the UK on combatants and “unfortunate” civilians?
          Or indeed what the hell those countries are doing with their fighter and bomber planes so far from their native lands? Won’t their mummies be wondering where they have got to all this time?

  7. matthu
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    What actual *evidence* of injury is there (other then hearsay) or is this just a stunt? The TV footage was particularly unconvincing.

    • Woody
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I listened to the same argument from a russian oligarch stooge last night who, when reminded of litvinenko and the polonium trail that followed his russian killers throughout their journey in the uk and their return (to be awarded a medal) in russia, demanded that a court should decide the facts before blaming the russian attackers. Yet russia, putin, would not permit them to be interrogated. Russia’s first defence is “lack of evidence” when they directly and deliberately prevent evidence being presented. The syrian chemical attack is being dealt by them the same way… smoke and mirrors and delay.

      • zorro
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        What did the Germans say about the polonium supposedly used in the case of Litvinenko?

        zorro

      • Mark B
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Not learnt much from the, “Weapons of Mass Destruction and missiles that can be launched at us in 4 minutes” debacle and the dodgy dossier have we ?

        😉

      • LondonBob
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Actually Russia offered that an English court could be established on Russian soil if they thought Lugovoi was guilty. We declined.

      • rose
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        I don’t think we should confuse Russian lies and propaganda with the question of these apparent chemical attacks. It is of course possible that Putin has staged the whole thing to destroy the West in revenge for the demise of the USSR in 1989. But on the other hand why would Assad want to provoke an anti chemical coalition just as the Americans have indicated they are going to pull out and just after the West has demonstrated how quickly they can get an anti chemical coalition together? All when he was winning anyway?

        I struggle to be convinced by the Jihadi footage with its stirring music – the BBC usually leave this out but not always – and no-one ever cites any other evidence. “You only have to see the film…”

        • rose
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          The only thing people should be thinking about is who is going to be able and willing to run the country afterwards – if there is an afterwards. I think we all know who that is, and it is not the Jihadis we seem to be so keen on helping.

          • rose
            Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            If Mrs May wants to parade her virtue then let her remind the EU we are sheltering, feeding, and educating millions of Syrians in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey at greater expense to us than to all of the EU put together. That was the best thing for David Cameron to do, not bring them here or bomb them there.

          • Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

            As one of Dr Redwood’s colleagues pointed out, it’s a choice between Monsters and Madmen. And which are which?

    • Stred
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      They need to interview the people affected and find out whether it is true that the rebels were keeping hostages and had access to chlorine.

      • APL
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        “rebels were keeping hostages and had access to chlorine.”

        Everyone has access to Chlorine ( compounds).
        Got drain cleaner? You got chlorine.
        Spill it on your skin. You’ve got a chemical burn.

        React it with some other agent you’ve got gaseous Chlorine.

        And if you think that’s far fetched. Rebels have access to high explosives and other weapons too.

        • APL
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          “And if you think that’s far fetched. Rebels have access to high explosives and other weapons too”

          Which you can’t usually buy in your local pharmacy.

        • Stred
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          My PE teacher had big bottles of it, which he used to pour into our horrible swimming pool.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        There have been sattellite pictures of cases holding human shields. These “rebels” (saudi-backed) are a very unpleasnt lot. Chlorine is a common industrual gas, although that area is unlikely to have a functioning chemical industry. The evidence (in the words of the Dutch defence minister is “incomplete”..

        • NickC
          Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Slap me on the face with a wet fish, Rien has said something sensible at last.

  8. Norman
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Your own answers to your question are correct. What no-one seems to want to admit, is that the Christian communities in Syria have been brutally persecuted by Muslim elements, who in some cases, may be our allies. In short, there are many Christian widows and orphans in Syria, the menfolk having been abducted and murdered (check out under Barnabas Fund). These people were not so mistreated under the Assad regime, and have been effectively betrayed by the West.
    The ultimate problem is Iranian infiltration, whose avowed intent is to destroy Israel, as well as to put down their Sunni foes, even the Saudis. The Israelis themselves will deal with this mater, in due time.
    Our government has already shown itself incredibly inept in dealing with the Russians. Moreover, I doubt we have any moral mandate to depose Assad – we have been wrong-footed from the beginning on this (probably due to Sunni influence. If ever there was a time for talking constructively and sensibly to Russia, this is it – or have we blown it? Even if it costs some loss of face, the West should try a renewed and concerted diplomatic effort. DEBATE IT IN THE COMMONS – do not pour more petrol onto the flames!
    As for Trump, he’s now trapped in his own words – but we must still seek damage limitation, by NOT backing him on this course. As for Macron, he needs to grow up, too – this is not a game. It does not have to be like this!

  9. Anonymous
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    What evidence ? And what a silly red line in war – as though one mass casualty weapon is more noble than another.

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Anon, Indeed, on both counts.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        We should only retaliate when attacked directly ourselves. Not even the Skripals warrant a military retaliation.

    • zorro
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Agent Orange, Napalm, White Phosphorous, Depleted Uranium…… Chlorine

      zorro

  10. sm
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    It’s time that Western politicians recognised that almost every intervention of theirs in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes things worse rather than better.

    There are no ‘good guys’ to support against the ‘bad guys’, and I fear that it would only take one mis-step to lead to WW3.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      War is coming, one way or another..

      In the foreboding words of Capt. Blackadder: “But the real reason for the whole thing was that it was too much effort not to have a war.”

  11. Nig l
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Are we going to achieve anything with Assad solid with the Russians embedded? Is Putin worried/likely to back down? On current form no and no. It is no more than macho posturing and virtue signalling and on the basis it is now an internal conflict of a sovereign nation, however unpleasant, we should stay well out of it. Unfortunately Obama didn’t enforce his red line and Trump is now politically trapped, especially as a Republican president, so has to intervene or else lose more credibility.

    Equally politically Theresa May is trapped needing Trumps support post brexit so I expect to see the usual expressions of support and some token action taken.

    If we must intervene only the chemical weapons should be targeted to retain the moral high ground.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I am unconvinced that military action will achieve any effective result on the ground. Given Mr Trump’s early warning Twitter remarks, it sounds more like gesture politics to me. The UK should stick to diplomacy.

  13. Pete Else
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    The UK government has been war mongeringing for years. It has consistently lied about Russia in an attempt to demonize it. The Salisbury debacle has shown just how transparent and desperate the lies have become. Now Washington, egged on by Israel and our sorry shower threatens war over the obviously staged Syrian chemical attack. NATO does not care about facts, the Syrian people or continuing life on planet Earth apparently. Our government and most other governments are run by lying criminals owned by banks and the arms industry. Every single MP that goes along wth this charade in any way is complicit in the drive to war. Every one of your colleagues, Mr Redwood, that screams abuse at anyone that asks for proof before starting a war should be booted out of public life as they are a threat to life on Earth.

    • Stop the war!
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      well said Pete

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Assuming the chemical attack is verified the the USA has backed itself into a corner.

    It said it will act so it must. Missile strikes at military targets with Russia and Iran notified in advance to move troops and civilians.

    Infrastructure damage not civilian casualties.

    In future all parties should learn not to conduct public diplomacy through the media. The populace do not need to know the minutiae, “we are continuing our dialogue” is really all we need to know whatever Laura Kuensberg or her peers on ITV, Channel4 or Sky think.

  15. Helen Taylor
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    What the UK should do is keep their noses out of it. It was the same with Iraq weapons of mass destruction. There was none. I know we are in NATO but do we always have to be the first ones to go wading in. Syria is fighting its own war with the help of Russia. China is willing to back them. Trump is proving to be a idiot who cant keep his mouth shut on twitter he is not in a TV program this is real life. He is dragging more and more people into war because of his stupid comments.We all know Americans are warmongers. Russia supposedly poisoning someone in our Country is one thing. Attacking them when they are legally helping defend another Country is a totally different ball game. I for one do not allow my polititian to agree to a war with my vote. I believe the majority of people in this Country do not want it either. Focus on our Country Mrs May and sort out the absolute shambles you are making of Brexit.

  16. Andy
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Military action almost never has a good outcome.

    But as we found out by failing to intervene in Syria 5 years ago, taking no action also is no guarantee of a good outcome either.

    The failure of the West last time, caused largely by Cameron’s timidity and Miliband’s opportunistic vote, led directly to the rise of Islamic State and the migration crisis (and consequently to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the worst president in US history).

    Diplomatically and militarily there is no easy answer in Syria.

    However morally there is. Can a regime be allowed to use chemical weapons on its own people, including children? No, no, no.

    We must wipe out Assad’s military – we must destroy his palaces and we must stand up to the highly dangerous far-right nationalist lunatic Putin.

    Nothing good comes out of far right-wing politics – did you notice?

  17. Richard1
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Might be more effective to focus on economic sanctions against Putin and his cronies. Freezing assets outside Russia and making key oligarchs and their groups pariahs in international business whilst exposing their theft and corruption to the Russian people should be effective.

    Military action needs to be very well targeted if it is to happen – specifically against Assad’s Chemical weapons capability, if that is possible.

    Meanwhile all those leftists who have been assuring us that President Trump is in the pocket of the Russians may like to re-think their line. He is taking a much more robust line than Obama ever did, especially on the poisoning.

  18. hans chr iversen
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    John

    Well written and argued.

    The west needs a long term strategy on Syria, which we still do not ahve.

  19. zorro
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act….. How apt. Not in my name.

    zorro

    • Timaction
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I agree. Who actually knows the truth? Which faction is worse than another? Until the whole truth is known not in my name.

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Zorro, Timaction, Well said. Not in my name either. And that doesn’t make me, and must not make us, a patsy for Putin either. Trust has to be earned, and none of the actors in Syria, including our own government (Iraq, Libya), has earned it.

  20. The Russians Did It
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    If your government drags us into another foreign war (risking WWIII) based on no proper evidence (other than dubious videos filmed by the White Helmets), I will never, ever, ever vote Conservative again.

    • Beecee
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Good morning Jeremy

    • zorro
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      I won’t either and no I’m not Jeremy. That’s my red line.

      zorro

    • Writer
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      @The Russians Did it
      I don’t think you ever have voted Conservative, somehow.

  21. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I disagree. We should use maximum force immediately to destroy the Syrian airforce. If their warplanes are hiding in Russian bases, too bad. Do you think that Putin is going to start WW3 over Bashar al-Assad? No, he’s not.

    The film and pictures of little kids being gassed by the Syrians with the connivance of their Russian protectors has enraged the world. Let the Americans get on with it.

    • zorro
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Have you seen the training videos?

      zorro

    • Mark B
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Let the Americans get on with it.

      Ahem ! I would like EVERYONE to read the above and dwell on it for a while.

    • Wessexboy
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      So we go to war – presumably killing people- because some Syrians have been victims of the wrong sort of weapons?

    • APL
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Sakara Gold: “The film and pictures of little kids being gassed by the Syrians with the connivance of their Russian protectors has enraged the world. ”

      But you don’t seem to give a damn about the little girls and young women in Rotherham, Telford, Bristol and probably other cities across the country who have been preyed upon etc

      Ignored by the British government, ignored by Social services, maligned by the Police and John Redwood is actively attempting to conceal the outrage.

      • APL
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        preyed upon etc

        It’s true John Redwood. You, your party leader and the whole of your party should be utterly ashamed of what you have permitted to go on in British Cities.

        Your party is advocating attacking Syria, because Syrian children have allegedly been gassed. But you do nothing about the attacks on girls and young women in British cities – in some cases including extreme torture.

        Not much evidence, and the West has no impartial representatives on the ground in Syria, by the way, do you think it is difficult to get hold of corpses in the middle of a civil war?

        We know none, none of the insurgents or rebels in Syria are democratic or law abiding. Democracy just isn’t a thing in the Middle East. And with Theresa May’s immigration policies, it isn’t much of a thing in may UK cities either.

        You talk about the rule of law, by don’t enforce it in a country where you might be able to do something about the uneven application of the law.

        If you aren’t ashamed, you ought to be.

    • David L
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Sakara Gold…thank God you’re not in the Cabinet…er, you’re not, are you?

      • APL
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        David L: “er, you’re not, are you?”

        He/She might be an improvement on the rabble we are currently governed by.

    • Stred
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Wonder how many other loonies worked at the MOD.

  22. Ron Olden
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I thought that one of the main planks of Trump’s political platform, which distinguished him from warmongering ‘liberals’, and the UKs current approach to this sort of thing, was non intervention, unless there was real chance it would so some good.

    If you’re not in position to do something that’s likely to work, there’s no point in doing something that will make things worse.

    There’s nothing morally praiseworthy about firing a few smart bombs at the Syrians then running away.

    Sabre rattling makes us, and Trump in particular, look like Kim Jong Un. Making threats like this is downright dangerous, and might cause an unforeseen conflagration.

    If we don’t follow it through, we look stupid, and if we do, and fail to put in enough force to make it effective (which we won’t), we make things worse.

    The best thing to do in any war, in which we don’t have direct vital national interest, is to hope that one side wins as quickly as possible or that they arrive at a quick solution. Keeping wars going by periodically pouring petrol on the flames, is reprehensible.

    Worse mass murders than this happen periodically all over the world and are hardly commented upon.

    The best thing we can do, is carry on with these targeted economic sanctions against Putin and his cronies.

    They won’t work either, but at least we wouldn’t be making things worse

  23. LiamB
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    This Syrian war has been going on for much too long now. The misery that is being dealt out to these poor people is beyond anything that a people should have to put up with.

    Nazism was not defeated by making red lines and sending the odd foray, so am afraid a NATO ground force of overwhelming numbers and strength is going to have to be assembled and sent in there to sort this out- boots on the ground- Assad, ISIS and the Syrian opposition all taken on and if Russian forces or Iranian types stand in the way then they will have to be dealt with as well- free and fair elections can be held afterwards- If we don’t deal with this now then it will go on and on and on- all the time stoked up by the rogue states- and we all know quite well by now who they are. That one man Assad is central to all of this carnage just for his own personal gain is obscene- I bet he does not have his own family living anywhere near these chemical barrel bombs

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Liam, I wouldn’t like to live in your blackandwhite world. Assad and Putin may be extremely nasty, but in the nastiness stakes they’ve been beaten by ISIS and the supposedly “good” “rebels”.

    • Stred
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Ha. A neo colonialist. My Syrian Christian contact told me that Assad isn’t a dictator but a front man for his tribe. They did not like them but realised they were secular socialists and the least bad option.

  24. a-tracy
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It is a very sad state of affairs that because of Blair and Campbell we don’t believe anything we hear.

    I wonder what the Canadians are saying, what are the Germans and Italians doing? The EU President what is he doing and saying about this?

    Don’t we have a body that could arrest Assad and try him properly, I thought that is what the UN was for?

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Angela Merkel has made it crystal clear she will not be joining in.I’m not sure Italy has a government yet and it’s unlikely that anyone is waiting for the views of Captain Snowflake himself in Canada.

  25. British Spy
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Respond to what? We do not have interests in Syria.

    • Adam
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      We have the natural human interest of helping prevent others’ suffering, although it is tempered by distance, capability & risk.

      • Confusion
        Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

        Good aren’t we!

        • Adam
          Posted April 13, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          Moderately so; & more are good than bad. Most would be likely to help a person who is endangered or suffering within their reach. Helping drowning families is more difficult if they are far out to sea, in cold dark waters, especially for a non-swimmer trying rescue alone.

          Ideally, we should not need to interfere in other nation’s affairs. However, where malevolent forces are destroying innocent citizens’ lives, our acting capably with allies to minimise their plight is more sensible than minimising our interest in them with ignorance.

  26. Anarcho-Libertarian
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Are we also joining in a missile attack on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, and many other countries where far more murders, if that’s what happened in Syria, takes place every other month?

    Mr Assad , it seems,. would never be mentioned in dispatches as it were, if he simply becomes pro-western and goes through an openly fake democratic election pledging allegiance to the West and granting an American takeaway be opened selling crap in Damascus next to a mosque or church.Gets his priorities right!

  27. acorn
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Europe should “take back control” of NATO from the US neo-cons. Trump just signed a military budget of $700 billion, fourteen times more than the UK and five times more than the Chinese! Who needs 150 military bases allover the planet?

    What difference does Mrs May think a one off mission will make in this seven year war? Is she prepared to be dragged into a longer term Trump commitment, legitimised behind a NATO flag? How will she know when the mission is complete? The West’s weak spot will be as always, “body bags” upsetting voters.

    • NickC
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, So you’re quite happy to be further enmeshed in the EU empire with its militaristic dreams of kicking ass all over the world, but somehow NATO – which makes no new laws to impose on us – is beyond the pale? You are one mixed up kid.

      • acorn
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        NATO has gone way past the original intention of its Article 5. The US has converted it into THE ” kicking ass all over the world” organisation after the World Trade Center.

        • NickC
          Posted April 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          Acorn, And the EU setting itself up as a military rival is better how?

    • Confusion
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know why the LibDems are proposing Parliament has a vote on whether we bomb Syria and not a referendum as they say they like referendums.

  28. Mark B
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Syria is none of our business. The best outcome for the Syrian people it stay well away and let those fighting over it decided for themselves, and quickly ! Intervening just prolongs the agony.

    President Obama made the use of chemical ordnance a red line Assad should not cross, but then decided not to take action when he did.

    Yes. Because the government of the day, along with the opposition, made a complete shambles over whether or not they wanted to attack Syria.

    I do not like calling the Syrian Government a, regime. If we are to refer to all governments that are like this, then we can include the EU and all the other MENA countries as well. Oh, and China too !

    Assad it winning. The other side is losing and needs help. What better way than to stage a fake event so that the USA can punish, or even remove President Assad.

    For once the PM is doing the right thing. Let us just wait and see before doing anything stupid, like before 😉

    • Mark B
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      This has been held in moderation, like most of my posts, for over 24 hours. Why ?

      reply Because I have given an evening lecture at Middlesex and been very busy in the constituency. Try posting fewer and shorter things.

  29. Eh?
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    There were one or two casualties on the assault on Mosul by the allies. Should we expect missiles to rain down on US and British army bases today or tomorrow too?

  30. Ghost of JB
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid that you are correct in that our military options are limited, largely unhelpful and largely ineffective.

    Since there is no western impulse towards regime change and state building, perhaps we could have most impact by saying that our responses to this and future war crimes will be aimed at political targets instead of military ones.

    This is the only way I can imagine that the Assad regime will begin to factor threats to its own survival into its military planning and actions.

  31. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    We have far too many people, in our leadership, in our opinion formers, and in the media here who are always chasing sensation, who have, through complacency, arrogance and false ideologies, become weak, naïve and gullible. They are thus not able to draw wise and sensible conclusions from events and are likely to make catastrophic decisions against our national interest. There are others in the world who are far more ‘street wise’ and know how to stage fake events as we have seen before.

    Mr Trump has unfortunately gone rather too far too with his twitter commentaries. He ought to have held back, but he has genuine power and strength nevertheless. Mrs May needs to be careful in what she parrots and no posturing for votes please.

    We’ve been here before with these ‘chemical’ attacks and we should be vary wary of being caught in traps. I accept however that the attack in Salisbury makes matters much more difficult and it easy and natural to connect one with the other.

    I do not believe we should get involved at all in this latest Syrian affair. There are bigger fish to fry and we should not be distracted. If we have concerns about the future we should build and strengthen our home and international defences which have become seriously weakened by the present and Cameron’s previous government. That will be more of a deterrent to potential enemies.

    ‘Speak quietly and carry a big stick’. We don’t have one yet. Running to a place a long way off and throwing a small stone is not effective.

  32. formula57
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Syria means Mrs. May’s qualities of being weak and vacillating become a positive virtue. Why exactly does the UK have to do anything and need it work with NATO allies, especially those intent upon making matters worse?

    Urgency does not arise in this long and tragic conflict. Let us await inspections and perhaps proof of blame. Then let the international community fashion an appropriate response, that may well include non-military sanctions and against others beside factions within Syria.

    Meanwhile of course let us plan how we will accommodate millions of Syrian refugees (assuming Dr. Merkel does not take in them all).

    • Peter
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      ‘Always getting it wrong’ trumps ‘weak and vacillating’ in the case of Mrs. May.

  33. BOF
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    If a red line has been drawn then it should be just that, a red line.

    Obama started the rot by failing to enforce the red line that he himself set and it is now late in the day, with Assad and allies well in control. I think that surgical strikes will take place and hopefully will not cause further escalation. I do not think (hopefully) that the Russians will respond as they have threatened as it could spread the conflict to the whole region. With Assad in control in Syria and seemingly only a matter of time before they are fully back in control I do not believe the Russians would want to risk the loss of everything they have helped Assad achieve.

    Mrs May, too, set red lines in her ‘negotiations’ with the EU and failed to hold them. The result is she has already agreed to concessions which are going to make the final deal a pretty rotten one for the UK.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I cannot image that Russia will tolerate inferior military powers killing their men or destroying their weaponry without punishment; unfortunately, we are an inferior military power because much of the money we spend on defence is wasted through incompetence.

      It is just as likely that Russia will give the ‘West’ an object lesson in realpolitik before they purport to believe a desperate gang of terrorists with everything to gain by a false flag.

  34. Adam
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The ‘United’ Nations disqualifies itself. The veto on even researching evidence reveals its disunity, with Russia & others having contrasting objectives. Combined UK, US & French force opposes bad, with good intent, but risks worse.

    The UK should do what is effectively better. UK Defence Strategists have, or should have, been conceiving, planning & perfecting such techniques for decades.

    Enmity prevails, but what is better than bombing opponents to pieces?
    Peace is.

  35. Pat
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    If we seek to impose our form of government and our norms on the world we need to get that objective approved by the majority of the people, and resource that purpose which will certainly be expensive.
    Failing that we need to accept that other people have lower, often much lower, standards of behaviour than us and leave them alone so long as they leave us alone.
    I fear that we will continue to fall between two stools and get repeatedly drawn into conflicts that don’t affect us, without improving things for the people we set out to help.

  36. Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The Prime Minister and her War Cabinet sounds more scary than what’s already happened in Syria. Doesn’t she have a Peace Cabinet? If not why not?

    • Confusion
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      It seems they talked for hours and established they ought to do something. They meet in two months to decide exactly what but not before an interim meeting to determine the exact date and time and whether everyone should take a bottle and wear fancy dress or not.

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I wonder precisely what would be attacked and why those targets would be selected, to what intended useful purpose which could only be achieved by aerial bombardment. However accurate the weaponry deployed there will always be the potential for collateral damage, including injury and death to innocent people, so there needs to be a good reason for doing it. Destroying a chemical weapons plant could be a good reason, just getting footage of some impressive explosions to show on TV would not be such a good reason.

  38. LondonBob
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The US veteoed two more neutral resolutions at the UN. The incident should be investigated, however let’s not play games, this isn’t about the alleged use of chemical weapons. If May approves military action then I, a life long conservative, shall vote Corbyn. I am not fortunate enough to have the likes of John Baron or Julian Lewis representing me.

  39. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    Apparently some tens of thousands of perfectly decent long term immigrants from Commonwealth countries are having great trouble and are being put to inordinate expense to prove that they have the legal right to live here, thanks to changes made by Theresa May in 2013 when she was Home Secretary:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43726976

    “Anger as ‘Windrush generation’ face deportation threat”

    However the London Evening Standard, edited by George Osborne, prefers to highlight the plight of a significant number of EU citizens who faced with similar problems:

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/thousands-of-eu-nationals-at-risk-of-losing-legal-status-after-brexit-report-warns-a3811856.html

    “Brexit news latest: Thousands of EU nationals at risk of losing their legal status in the UK, report warns”

    Their fears having been triggered by statements made by Theresa May on the bad advice of the senior civil servant Sir Ivan Rogers, which have effectively made their right to stay here conditional not upon their personal good behaviour but that of the politicians in their countries of origin.

    But having done that, the same Theresa May is now agreeing that any EU citizen who comes here during the so-called “transition period” after we leave the EU will have the same rights to stay as an EU citizen who came here fifteen years ago and has firmly settled here with a job and house and children at school etc … none of it makes sense.

    • rose
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      If you uncounted millions of extra people into the country over a lifetime, the Home Office is going to struggle with the paperwork, even if that HO is fit for purpose, which this one isn’t. Even thoroughly laid back Ken Clarke is saying the borders aren’t policed and that there are probably a million illegal immigrants here already. Add in the many millions of legal ones, and the ones who have bought fraudulent nationality from corrupt and criminal individuals in the HO, and you are going to have an unjust system to say the least.

      • rose
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        If you bring in…

  40. Rien Huizer
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    First: there are no “good guys” there anymore. Second, reports of poison gas come from questionable source and may include gas thatb does not fall under the WMD definition (so no maufacturing of banned substance). Chlorine gas for instance is a common industrial gas. A nerve gas would be different of course. Third, most of inhabited Syrian airspace is under the umbrella of possibly (never tested in combat) lethal Russian AA and anti missile defense. That defense is layered (SA 400, 300 and Pantsir). Always possible to overwhelm AA systems with enough force but both sides face the risk that the other side detects vulnerabilities (US Raptor’s and SA 400 and Pantsir’s) So the most likely outcome would be a low risk strike with cruise missiles on a weakly defended target (no Pantsirs). Israel may have tested the Syrian (AA quality using stand off missiles and the result of these superior missiles was, imo disappointing. Penetration of a 1980s vintage Syrian AS 300 (the infamous But of MH 17 fame) screen only partially successful. So most likely Russian forbearance is needed to avoid a probable failure.

    Wise people wouyld do nothing, especially since there is no conceivable strategic objective. Assad /Russia/Iran have won and a silly kick in overtime would not do anyone any good, except tpoliticians looking for a distraction. Unlikely Mr Mattis would oblige..

  41. Epikouros
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    It would help if the evidence that government, politicians and others produce is reliable. It is not and worse is that the presenters of the evidence are often found to be duplicitous or incompetent or both. At least then we would know we are being righteously outraged for unequivocal reasons . What then can be done? Not much apparently or if something is done it is from suspect motivation and is either ineffectual or aggravates/escalates the situation or planned and executed in a manner that emulates what has been done before that proved a disastrous failure. Most cases of this sort we need to seek solutions that do not involve bloody conflict. If it does then unless it is to stop a clear direct threat like Nazis Germany or imperialist Japan or foreign based terrorists like ISIS(debateable and not always as there are many factors at work to consider here) then we should watch vigilantly from the side lines.

  42. Rien Huizer
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Of course there is a moral question but that has been around for ever. No point discussing the morals of a middle east dictatorship that has just managed to survive an episode of a civil war with roots that go back to the days after Mohammed’s death and that will never stop, with all sides following local moral codes. What would you want? deport the remains Syrians? Support the Salafists? or The Shias. The Christians (Assad’s allies) maybe?

  43. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    There’s nothing we can do.
    There may be something we can do.
    We can do something but it’s not for us to take the lead.
    We should have done something but it’s too late now.

  44. ian
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Just a cry from western-backed rebels/ need their help because they are on the back foot and losing ground, also a few British troops who are there to feed them weapons and money and do some spying were arrested this week by Syrian troops.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Ah ! That is why the PM is a little coy over military action. She wants our boys back and really needs to avoid the embarrassment of a show trial and that the UK has been caught red-handed.

      Tut-tut !

      • British Spy
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        It is hard to know what Mrs May is really like as a person. She is acting a role.She possibly does not even like her job. I hated, no detested, all my jobs. But you have to force yourself to glean some sort of satisfaction or the hours pass but slowly.
        To her, speaking to the Chancellor, must be like time going backwards with her bottom lip slowly but inevitably sinking to the floor in utter gloom and despair.Like an elephant she must be terrified of but a small mouse scurrying across the floor and scooting into her mouth.

        • Stop the war!
          Posted April 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          It is hard to know what Mrs May is really like as a person. She is acting a role.

          >
          She has no children, few of the current European leaders have children, They are going to lead us to WW3, this lot we have now.

  45. Ken Moore
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    May will go to war because it makes her look ‘statesmanlike’ and diverts attention away from brexit. Never underestimate the vanity of a senior machine politician.

  46. MickN
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I seem to remember seeing it written once that we should allow countries to have their civil wars and then see what deal we can do with the victors. Assad is an evil man but he has kept his country stable until recently. We should use Libya as a lesson in what happens when you remove a controlling head of state and what fills the vacuum afterwards. Chaos ensues. As for the tragic casualties I am sure they would rather live. I don’t suppose it matters much to them whether their demise comes through chemical weaponry or high explosives. They will be just as dead.

  47. Andy
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I hear on the radio a clip of David Davis – who voted against military action against Syria last time – saying that he had changed his mind.

    This the same David Davis who is denying the public the right to change their minds over Brexit. Ironic.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Andy
      Complete red herring.
      Two totally different things.

  48. duncan
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The real enemy is back here in the UK, on our doorstep, and the Tories, who sacrificed morality for politics, refuse to confront the march of leftism both throughout the state and in wider Britain. For this cowardice on my party’s part the rest of the UK will pay a heavy price in time

  49. libertarian
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Oh thats an easy one to answer isn’t it Andy, Newmania and Tasman

    Invite Syria and Russian to join the EU, after all we know full well that simply joining the EU has bought everlasting peace to Europe for 70 years

  50. David L
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Using military force, and inevitably killing/maiming civilians, to show displeasure at the use of chemical weapons may satisfy the Trumps and Johnsons amongst us, but it won’t achieve much else apart from a risk of WW3. Once again, the “let’s-show-’em-an-iron-fist” attitude demonstrates an inability amongst those who rule simply to grow up.

  51. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/04/12/could-theresa-may-get-away-customs-union-climbdown/

    “Could Theresa May get away with a customs union climbdown?”

    “Compromise is clearly needed if the Brexit deal is to be agreed, and European negotiators have been clear about what they feel the British must do: accept being part of a customs union post-Brexit.

    “That offers a significant part of the solution” to the Irish border question, Michel Barnier opined in February. A senior EU official closely involved with the negotiations told my colleague Peter Foster this week that they expected that Theresa May would have to sign up to a “camouflaged” customs union in the end.”

    Then after her customs union climbdown would come her single market climbdown, because while the first “offers a significant part of the solution” to the Irish border question the complete solution would require the whole of the UK and its economy to remain subject to all EU single market laws for the sake of the 0.1% of UK GDP which is exported to the Irish Republic across the land border.

    • Sean OBrien
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      Denis, this is old news. Mrs May signed up to this in December. Northern Ireland, and therefore the UK generally, will follow the EU’s rules for ever and a day. The only way to keep the border open.

  52. ferdinand
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The crux of the issue is the use of chemical warfare when the world has agreed not use them It does appear that all the evidence points to both Assad and Putin breaking that rule. Military action will not stop that unless there is a total wipe out of ecah nation and clearly that is unwarranted and impossible. Other forms of persuasion are needed. We should get all the UN nations to cease all contact with Russia and Syria including using Russian gas supplies. It will be painful but if they can see that the financial cost of such evil acts will end their power then it will be worth it.

  53. mancunius
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I genuinely do not see how Britain’s national interest is served by intervening in Syria – a country for which we have had no responsibility since the French post WWI mandate – on the side of a confused patchwork of heterodox rebel factions that is beaten but refuses to surrender.
    All the western horror about the use of chemical weapons is just virtue-signalling. The rebel fighters keep their families and relatives around them as they defend their strongholds. The non-combattant family members are therefore more numerous than the fighters. Hence the many civilian casualties.
    We should keep out of it.

  54. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I may be the only one who says this on this blog, but I think we should stay out of it. How many more times are we going to get involved in other peoples wars.? Personally, I vote for our Government to attend to pressing matters in this country, not to try to police half the world.

  55. Ed Mahony
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    The most important thing everyone can do now is pray. Pray for the wisdom how we should proceed in this apparently impossible situation. And then we decide whether to use force or not. If force, then to have a proper plan in place before using it. And if through peaceful means, only, again have a proper plan in place.

    • Stred
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Theresa, the vicar manque, prays every week in Bray. Unfortunately, she has still made a few mistakes.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 13, 2018 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        It could also follow, logically, that if she hadn’t prayed, she might have made even more mistakes ..

        Anyway, i don’t want to be the judge of any person’s soul, whether they believe in God or not. All i know is that praying works for me (brings me a tonne of happiness even though i continue to make mistakes all the time). Best.

  56. Raymond
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    As there is uncertainty as to the perpetrators and the extent of the harm done I would caution against taking military action. The consequences can not be forseen. And of course there are comparable horrors happening on the streets of the UK which should engage our lords and masters little grey cells.

  57. Peter
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Interesting change of heart by Trump. He appoints Bolton – a man who never misses an opportunity for war talk. Then, shortly after, Trump goes from an isolationist ‘bring the troops home’ type to an interventionist.

    Trumpism was supposed to be about ‘a wall, more jobs, lots of deportations’. No wonder Ann Coulter has gone off him.

    • Trumpeteer
      Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Trump is building the wall, has provided more jobs and there are lots of deportations of criminal illegal migrants. Have any further troops (USA) deployed anywhere in any country? No.

  58. John
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    It all sounds sensible especially when I red this secret war phone between the Cremlin an the White House was activated.

    The US sends targeted missiles to Assad regime military targets.

    The Cremlin is advised of those and advised to vacate of any Russians or their assets are in the vicinity.

    Job done, we all stand down.

    • LondonBob
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Still a risk of escalation as the US would have to put on more of a show than the last bit of Kabuki theatre. Mattis, Haspel and Dunford are pushing back so we might still see sanity prevail, hopefully they can delay further and the OPCW can do their job.

      You give has Britons opposing military action by two to one. Is public opinion being reflected in the media?

  59. Freeborn John
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Forget Syria. When Remoaners and the EU Commission are saying every day the UK can stay in the EU customs union and Theresa May has gone quiet on the subject it indicates another cave in is the works. You and your colleagues need to tell her she will be gone in hours if she concedes that.

    Olly Robbins seems to be saying that there is not time to make any sort of trade deal beforehand the UK signs the divorce agreement. That would mean May has given £40bn away for the dubious privilidge of de-facto staying in the EU for 21 months after March 2019. Once that money is handed over the UK loses some significant leverage such that it is difficult to see the EU agreeing a trade deal after March 2019 when it has not done so beforehand. If May pays 40bn and gets nothing but 21 more months in EU purgatory then she will have been proved the worst negotiator of all time. The fact that she and Olly Robbins appears willing to pay up without a trade deal further reinforces the impression she is willing to stay in the EU customs union. You are asleep on the job if you let her get away with that.

  60. Eh?
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I see many Remoaners are in favour of Henry VIII powers when it comes to bombing Syria. Few of them know Assad is not a Catholic

  61. anon
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Why would Assad who has effectively won the war , now openly use banned weapons? Who would benefit from this?

    I suggest its an unlikely option for Assad to actively choose.

    It is possible some other group may have? Perhaps even to trigger a major intervention? But who would benefit?

    Some people have not engaged beyond the horror.

    We should press for a full investigation, a bombing campaign would probably just destroy evidence and preclude investigation.

    I am sorry to say , i do not know who to believe, our governments have proven untrustworthy and have made grave mistakes.

    How can we be sure there is no hidden agenda?
    Many question whether we are actually a proper functioning democracy or is it all based on obfuscation, fabrication and lies.

    I would prefer the region stable under Assad than another mess which was the case prior to Russian intervention.

    I suspect a lot of Syrians and others could then return home and for once our Foreign Aid could usefully be used to help them rebuild. Other parties should restrain themselves from violence and should hold discussions on how to manage defacto on the ground realities.

    If missiles are launched who can say that those ordering the strikes are not now legitimate targets for reprisals or legal challenges. Smart missiles work both ways.

    • mancunius
      Posted April 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      “I suspect a lot of Syrians and others could then return home ”

      Hmm – in the same way and the same number that all the Albanian Kosovans returned home to Kosovo after the end of the war there? (Not…)

      Better ask the Germans in a few years’ time – the Syrian refugees are all heading for Germany from other EU countries (see German press today). I doubt the refugees (largely male, largely of military age) will want to go back to Homs or Damascus to be arrested for desertion.

  62. John P McDonald
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    It frightens me how the West wants to start World War III based on information supplied by third parties who have a vested interest in prolonging the war. One moment we get pictures of children in a clearly a distressed state supposedly as a result of a chemical attack, and the next day from the same place where people are celebrating that Assad has freed them from rebel/ISIS control ? The West can kill civilians when trying to defeat ISIS and that is excused, probably on the grounds that they are not our own people. The word for this is collateral damage. The truth is that Assad/Russia have managed to defeat ISIS and the West is not happy, so looking for an excuse to discredit the achievement. The West’s position is that they want Assad out and will do anything to achieve that gaol no matter what. A third world war included.
    It appears that Trump’s best UK political mate Nigel has advised him that an attack on Assad will cause more problems than it will solve. Let us hope Trump listens to Nigel rather than our own Prime Minister. Much is made about how undemocratic Putin’s Russia is, but here we have a British Prime Minister wanting to take the country to war without a vote in Parliament, not even a doggy document in sight. A really shameful time for British Politics, not a good example to show Russia how it should be done.

    • Prigger
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      I personally have got more to despise the Russians for than some. But I do not believe they consciously attacked two Russians in Salisbury nor authorised or were a willing party to a chemical attack in Syria.
      Lets us all admit something honestly…. ,. Anyone of us, including JR and myself, if we were specifically targeted for death by security forces in the UK , USA, Germany, Poland, Russia, China, India.etc etc, then we would be dead yesterday, Full stop. We know they are professionals,. We know they do their duty. We know they would not fail.

  63. Stop the war!
    Posted April 13, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Every single MP that goes along wth this charade in any way is complicit in the drive to war. Every one of your colleagues,

    >
    The angels of God are watching, none of them will escape punishment.

  64. Stop the war!
    Posted April 13, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    John, the Russians are saying they have “irrefutable proof” that British Special Operations staged that chemical attack to try to frame Russia. If this was true, what Minister would sign off on an operation like that? How does this work? Can we have names please……

    • APL
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Stop the war!: “Russians are saying they have “irrefutable proof” that British Special Operations staged that chemical attack to try to frame Russia.”

      The ‘white helmets’ are funded from the West. They are just a variation on the ‘White Helmets’ that were used in 2006 to garner sympathy for Palestinians over attacks by Israel.

      • APL
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        “variation on the ‘White Helmets’

        Green helmets.

  65. Ron Olden
    Posted April 13, 2018 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    If today’s comments from the UN Secretary General claiming that ‘the Cold War is back with a vengeance’ are the best he can come up with, he’s nowhere near good enough for the job.

    The ‘Cold War’ is NOT ‘back’. This is nothing like the ‘Cold War’.

    The ‘Cold War’ involved two heavily armed, more or less equally matched military blocks, in the persons of the Warsaw Pact and NATO, facing each other along the whole length of Europe, with Hydrogen Bombs pointed at each other and the US and Russia threatening to fire Nuclear Missiles over the North Pole at each other. on two occasions

    The Russians even blockaded Berlin.

    The Cold War also involved Russia and the West facing off in proxy wars all over the World, and Russia trying to put Nuclear Weapons in Cuba.

    Major lengthy wars were also fought in Korea, Vietnam and other parts of Indo China, with the USA on one side, and China and the Soviet Union on the other.

    Whilst all this was going on, Russian client states, including Syria, on two occasions even invaded Israel,. All out war broke out, and Israel occupied parts of them.

    This latest ‘crisis’ is no more than an incident, in which Russia happens to be a close ally of one side. The West isn’t a close ally of anyone participating on the ground.

    Our complaint essentially, is about the use of chemical weapons, which is, in essence, an objection of principle, rather than any strategic confrontation.

  66. Stop Fake News
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    And did you know the bombshell mobile phone footage from the Nice and Munich attacks were filmed by the same person, yes, the SAME PERSON and uploaded by the same person… a German political blogger married to an IDF signals intel Luetenant who can be heard acting very badly on the video.

    ……….
    The Nice terror attack mobile phone footage was filmed from the balcony….wait for it…of the Westminster hotel. Yes, the next ‘ISIS’ attack. Like the evil villains they are they just cant help give us a clue to the next staged event for those with eyes to see.

    During the fake Paris attacks, they painted the Brussels airport logo in blood on the floor of the Bataclan. This is Mossad and Skull and Bones/the Jesuits. I have no idea why we all let them carry on this way?

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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