i Editor's Letter: The questions on Syria that must be faced


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The Independent Online


What evidence do Washington and London have that the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical massacre in Ghouta last Wednesday? What sort of military action are they planning? How do they plan to stop intervention expanding? What efforts are being made to secure broad international agreement for strikes against Damascus, if not a UN resolution? What common ground can be found with Russia, China and Iran, and can they pressure Assad? What prospect is there of Assad agreeing to political talks with the opposition? (Get real.) What would victory look like? What plans, if any, do Western and Arab powers have to try to stop the rise of Islamist radicals in Syria?

David Cameron must begin to answer these questions, among  others, tomorrow, when Parliament debates and votes on attacking Syria. Judging by the contents of my i inbox, many of you either do not trust the basis on which we are being led towards missile strikes, or feel uncomfortable with the lack of detail offered so far by Downing Street and the White House.

The Prime Minister’s decision to open the floor to MPs and allow public debate is a no-brainer in the climate of suspicion that exists after the invasion of Iraq. It was slightly galling to see Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy, surface yesterday to demand military action, having so comprehensively squandered his moral authority to lead public debate on warfare, and tied the hands of Mr Cameron when he is faced with actual use of weapons of mass destruction.

Once Mr Cameron and his American counterparts begin to answer these questions, MPs – and we, the public – can weigh whether the geopolitical and moral costs of inaction outweigh the potential consequences of attack. Where do you stand?


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