Friday 30th August
By the time you read this our MPs will have discussed and probably come up with a compromise. Cameron has shown how foolish he was by ramping up expectations of a military strike; a rabid press, and inflammatory statements from William Hague have all back-fired. Milliband has at last shown some steel, and wisdom, and insisted that we must wait first for the weapons inspectors report, and have another vote before any military action.
And this really is a no-win situation. Nobody wants to sanction or ignore the use of chemical weapons, though that was exactly what we did in Iraq, dropping depleted Uranium and Phosphorous on civilians, which will have a much longer lasting effect than the use of Sarin alleged by Assad. But what will the use of military action actually achieve. The country is practically bombed to bits anyway. Evidence over the years has shown that aerial bombardment almost always results in a more determined defiance by both the population and the government of the bombed. The London Blitz unified the country, in Vietnam more shit was dropped on one tiny country than by all sides in WW2, and yet they still won in the end.
I am not advocating doing nothing. But maybe a better response would be to say to Syria that this is the final warning; any evidence of the further use of chemical weapons would result in an attack. This of course carries the risk of making us look weak, and of letting them off the hook, and also for the other side, who are just as duplicitous of using chemical weapons themselves and blaming Assad. Maybe now is the time to actually try to get Assad to talk to the international community.
Every war ends with talking, and maybe this war is unwinnable by either side and some sort of compromise needs to be negotiated. This is a far more difficult course of action, far easier to look big and bold and drop bombs on so-called military targets, but this really is a no-win situation.