We are all angry and upset at the terrible pictures of the atrocity in Syria. Poison gas is a cowardly and inhumane weapon. Its use against civilians is especially despicable. Instinctively we all want to punish the perpetrators and ensure there will be no repeat of this mass slaughter.
That’s the emotional reaction. The rational one is to measure the consequences of our using force in the Syrian Civil War. Force begets more force. A civil war with evil fanatics on both sides could quickly escalate into a regional war and a world war. There are many interests involved including the Al Nusra branch of Al Qaeda on the insurgents side, the divided rule of President Assad and his brother plus the nations of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Israel, China and the neighbouring Arab states.
No one can predict with certainty the consequences of the use of force by the UK or the US. Hague repeats that the UK should punch above our weight. That means spending above our interests and dying beyond our responsibilities. Not since the Vietnam War has the UK behaved as an independent state. Harold Wilson avoided involvement in that futile war. Parliament should be recalled so that we can decide if we wish to reach our own national decision and not again act as an appendage of the United States.
This morning all serious newspapers carried the same lead story that the UK planned to use force in Syria. This is no co-incidence. They did not all have the same nightmare. They were all briefed by Downing Street. They are probably testing the public's mood. Capitalising on a surge of emotion to write your page in history is a frequent political stunt. All premiers get turned on when war beckons. They adopt a Napoleonic posture, polish up the Churchillian rhetoric and strut in the Commons as the saviours of the world.
The result of recent PM decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan is the loss of 623 UK soldiers lives. Hell of a price to pay for prime ministerial vanity.