THE TRAGIC people of Syria have already waited for years for the West to halt a bloody civil war that has seen tens of thousands of lives lost – and countless crimes against humanity.
Yet, as pressure grows for global intervention after reports that at least 40 people, including many young children, were killed in a suspected chemical attack, it will be better to form a coherent strategy before rushing to action.
As Theresa May carefully weighs up her political, diplomatic and military options – and President Donald Trump raises expectations of airstrikes with his latest bravado on Twitter as relations between America and Russia reach a new low – the PM’s dilemma is an acute one. She realises that Downing Street’s authority on such matters was left diminished following the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion. She also knows Commons support is crucial – and that her predecessor David Cameron lost a key vote in 2013 when Ed Miliband, the then Labour leader, had a late change of heart. MPs then backed the limited use of RAF fighter jets in 2015.
Yet, while Mrs May can still authorise military action under prerogative powers, she would be advised – after galvanising other nations to follow Britain’s lead in expelling Russian diplomats after the Salisbury spy poisoning case – to try to build a broader consensus after appearing to rule out United Nations involvement.
The more countries that stand in solidarity against Assad’s tyranny, the greater the likelihood of a response that is more effective than previous airstrikes which appeared to achieve little.
For, as the West’s leaders weigh up their options, some more cautiously than others, the question is this – will any intervention ease the suffering of the Syrian people, and increase the prospect of Assad and others being brought to justice, or will it only make a desperate situation even worse?