THE NEWSDESK: There is no appetite for another war
2:19pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
ARE there weapons of mass destruction in Syria?
Yes. There is little doubt that some kind of chemical or biological agent was used to slaughter people in the suburbs of Damascus.
Do we yet know what that weapon was or who used it?
No. Hans Blix has not had the time to carry out his investigation - and, of course, whoever had used them had plenty of opportunity to remove evidence before Blix and his crew were allowed into the country by the Assad regime.
There is, as I write this column, no smoking gun to prove Assad guilty of a war crime, no matter how much we in the west suspect him of it.
Should the world act if chemical weapons have been used by the Assad regime?
Yes. The world should act.
As we should have acted when Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds in 1991. But yet, the world did not. Bush senior pulled back from an Iraq invasion.
The world - including the USA and the UK - looked the other way while Kurds died.
And when the west finally did go into oil-rich Iraq more than a decade later, it wasn't to bring a war criminal to justice, it was all about regime change.
And we were presented with a dodgy dossier.
And there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq.
And our troops came home in body bags.
The one thing I will say for David Cameron is that he did not try to "sex up" the evidence on the current situation in Syria. He presented his case forcefully, and loudly. And he lost. And he recognised that immediately.
There is no public will to bomb another Arab nation. There is little public appetite for more war. People recognise this could not be simply a 'no-fly' action like that over Benghazi in Libya to protect a city from slaughter.
Any bombing of Syria would have massive implications in the region.
Syria is not Iraq, but we cannot escape its legacy. It is our very own Vietnam.
To paraphrase Mary Tudor, cut us open and you will find the word Iraq written across our hearts.We are weary of war.
The fact Obama is now going to Congress for approval for an attack, delaying any strike while Blix and his team do their work, signals to me that there are also serious doubts in the US. Obama, master politician that he is, knows that if Congress votes him down, he has a get-out clause.
And if the days of the UK being the faithful Tonto to the US President's Lone Ranger are over, I for one will not mourn them.
For the first time since we got out of the Second World War lease-lend hock, we have stood on our own two feet when it comes to foreign policy.
Far from being an end to the 'special relationship' this is a major renegotiation of it.
Back to Blix and Assad. If evidence is found against the regime, the world must unite in bringing them to justice. And that includes you, Putin.
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