“The end is nigh”, says the caption on a photo on the BBC website. Click on the image and a video describing the possibility that we might be on the edge of World War Three could be a matter of days away. In normal times, you might put this down to sabre rattling, but these are not normal times.
President Assad’s chemical weapons attack on a small town near Damascus might be bad enough for world peace if the United States of America had strong and stable leadership, but instead it has Donald Trump, an egocentric, unstable, narcissist. Already, Trump has said: “Get ready Russia, because (missiles) will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” However, if the USA doesn’t have a strong and stable leader, then neither do we. We have a desperately weak, out of her depth, fifth rater in 10 Downing Street, who is desperate to stay close to the USA at whatever cost in order to get a trade deal from Trump as we leave the EU. And, in my view, this explains why she is likely to give the go ahead for our armed forces to take action against Syria without bothering to ask parliament for authority to proceed. Worse than that, she is anxious that Trump does not hold off before MPs can be consulted because they are currently enjoying their lengthy Easter break.
US/UK action will surely draw retaliation from Russia. They have said as much. If ‘we’ use missiles, ‘they’ will shoot them down. And reports tonight suggest that both Russia and the USA are preparing for a naval war. If this proves to be the case, and we actively take part, along with France, we could be perilously close to rapid escalation and a world war. With someone as unhinged as Trump, being egged on by someone as hopeless yet desperate as Mrs May, who is to say where this might end? Putin will be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of Europe tearing itself to pieces over a far away country. This is serious stuff.
May is trying to avoid parliamentary debate; she shouldn’t. Jeremy Corbyn argued today that the whole issue must be discussed in parliament before everyone sits down together over a few cucumber sandwiches and sorts everything out. Assad would surely be persuaded of the folly of his ways, couldn’t he? I doubt it, but Corbyn will always say something like that because he is a pacifist. I want our MPs to debate any possible action by our armed forces so they can, on our behalf, hear all the available evidence from May. I say this because as things stand, I need to be persuaded of the arguments. We need to hear about everything that has happened, who was responsible, what action is proposed and by whom, what the specific aims will be and be specific about the exit strategy. When May says that the chemical weapons attack “must be challenged”, she must say how and why. As ever, May is obfuscating and she needs to be pinned down. What a shame we only have Jeremy Corbyn to read out whatever it is Seumas Milne has written for him.
As of now, I am in the “don’t know” camp, as well as the “something must be done” camp, too. Sadly, I think Theresa May is also in both camps. She wants to maintain the mythical “special relationship” as Brexit unravels and Trump is desperate for distraction as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation gets closer to the crooked heart of his administration. Yet, setting aside the sly politicking, it appears Assad’s government has committed heinous war crimes.
Now is the time for leaders to lead. Sadly, instead of leaders we have political pygmies on both sides of the Atlantic.
My guess is that by the weekend, Trump will have his war and May will be holding his hand. And the rest of us can begin to think about where the nearest bunkers are.