JUST when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse in the Middle East, along comes a story to prove you wrong.
We were still reeling from the terrible violence in Egypt, where more than a 1,000 people were killed in clashes between the security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this month, when news of a chemical gas attack in Syria reached us.
Graphic video footage shows civilians with no sign of external injury collapsing on the floor and gasping for breath in what experts have described as classic signs of Sarin nerve gas poisoning.
Up to 1,300 people are reported dead and, as is sadly common in such cases, it is the vulnerable, especially the children, who have borne the brunt of the atrocity.
Syria’s president Bashar Assad and opposition activists are busily blaming each other for the deaths and UN inspectors, in Damascus to investigate earlier reports of chemical weapon attacks, are said to be ready to investigate – if the Syrian government lets them. Now this is heart-breaking and the distressing scenes on our television and computer screens are truly appalling. But it is important to get one thing absolutely clear – it isn’t our fault.
Despite the parroting of our Left-wing friends, “the West” cannot be blamed for the violence in Muslim nations across the globe. The tragedy in Syria is happening not because of the British Empire, or Western Imperialism, or US foreign policy, or oil, or the existence of Israel or Nato.
At the heart of this conflict is the blood-soaked schism in Islam that has seen the rival sects slaughtering each other for the best part of 1,400 years.
And what we see in Syria is a bitter proxy war being fought between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for political and religious supremacy in the region.
As these are both nasty, brutish and bigoted regimes it is, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, a pity they both can’t lose.
Of course, we should do everything in our power to ease the suffering of the innocent victims of the violence. But the blunt truth is there is little we in the West can do to persuade Muslims to be more tolerant of each other. What we can do is defend our own democratic freedoms which are under constant attack from an unholy alliance of home-grown Islamists and the far left.
And we should give unstinting support to democratic Israel which is our front-line defence against the sort of barbarity we have witnessed in Cairo and Damascus.
If we suddenly discovered a source of plentiful, cheap, clean energy right below our feet that would keep the lights on, warm our homes and power our factories for decades to come, you may think environmentalists would be jumping for joy.
Er… no. They are, in fact, against it – just like they are against pretty much everything that doesn’t involve higher taxes and more state control.
That explains why Green MP Caroline Lucas got herself arrested recently at an anti-fracking demo in Sussex. A desperate publicity stunt perhaps? Ms Lucas’s election was supposed to be a breakthrough for the Greens, but since entering parliament she has sunk without trace and her party has been eclipsed by Ukip for the protest vote.
It because of the malign influence of eco-zealots like Ms Lucas that we are facing power cuts over the next few years. It is also why we have swingeing green taxes on our energy bills that have driven millions into fuel poverty. Given her dismal record, I’m surprised Ms Lucas has the cheek to show her face in public.
If she does, she should do so in Parliament where she was elected to represent her constituents – and not with a self-indulgent bout of political posturing.