Syria crisis: To intervene or not? A question of life or death

What the powerful, the influential and the well-informed are saying about possible Western strikes on Syria

General Lord Dannatt Former Chief of General Staff

“Although undoubtedly by any moral standards at all using chemical weapons against your own people [is wrong] this does not constitute an open invitation for the international community to impose themselves on the internal affairs of another country.”

Anthony Zinni Retired US Marine General

“The one thing we should learn is you can’t get a little bit pregnant. If you do a one-and-done and say you’re going to repeat it if unacceptable things happen, you might find these people keep doing unacceptable things. It will suck you in.”

Diane Abbott Shadow health minister

“I can’t see anything that would make me vote for intervention in Syria. Essentially, it’s a civil war. What Libya and Egypt have taught us is that these situations in the Middle East are complex. It’s not good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats.”

Caroline Lucas Green Party MP

“The question is whether this will really be the short, sharp, neat deterrent to further chemical weapons use, or whether – as many of us fear – it risks far more serious escalation.”

Nigel Farage Ukip leader

“I’m opposed because we seem to be getting involved in an endless series of foreign wars, that we enter into without ever really thinking through the consequences.”

Alastair Campbell Former Downing Street director of communications

“To have somebody using chemical weapons against his own people, in the way that Assad has done – I think for the rest of the world to stand by and just say ‘Oh well, carry on, and do it again and we won’t do anything…’  – that would be hugely irresponsible and incredibly dangerous.”

Dmitry Rogozin Deputy Prime Minister of Russia

“The West behaves towards the Islamic world like a monkey with a grenade.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  Iranian Supreme Leader

“The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region. The region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted.”

David Cameron Prime Minister

“The National Security Council agreed unanimously that the use of chemical weapons by Assad was unacceptable – and the world should not stand by. We want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. Today they have an opportunity to do that.”

Bashar al-Assad Syrian President

“Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day. Would any state use chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction in a place where its own forces are concentrated? That would go against elementary logic.”

Hans Blix Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq in 2003

“Since the Western powers have asked for United Nations inspections – and Syria has accepted and inspectors have been put in the field – we all should wait to see the report of the inspectors before action is taken.”

Lord West of Spithead Former First Sea Lord

“An attack is extremely dangerous. You cannot predict what will happen. You have to ask yourself: will it actually further our global security or will it help the well-being of the Syrian people?”

Tony Blair Former Prime Minister and  Middle East peace envoy

“People wince at the thought of intervention. But contemplate the future consequence of inaction and shudder: Syria mired in carnage between the brutality of Assad and various affiliates of al-Qa’ida, a breeding ground of extremism infinitely more dangerous than Afghanistan in the 1990s; Egypt in chaos, with the West, however unfairly, looking as if it is giving succour to those who would turn it into a Sunni version of Iran.”

Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury

“Is it possible to have a carefully calibrated response including armed force, if you are sure about the facts on the ground, that does not have unforeseeable ramifications across the whole Arab and Muslim world? … This a terribly, terribly dangerous time.”

Lord  Ashdown Former Liberal Democrat leader and former UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

“Action taken with the aim of underpinning international law, even if it in the end doesn’t, is better, it seems to me, than no action with the certain consequence of undermining it.”

Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary-General

“It is essential to establish the facts. A UN investigation team is now on the ground to do just that. Just days after the attack, they have collected valuable samples and interviewed victims and witnesses. The team needs time to do its job, Give peace a chance, give diplomacy a chance, stop fighting and start talking.”

Brooks Newmark Conservative MP

“The Assad regime has been using chemicals as a weapon in very small doses to test the red line and to test the West’s resolve. If we do nothing following last week’s larger attack upon civilians, this will in the words of one Syrian I spoke to: ‘Give a green light to the Assad regime that they can use chemical weapons with impunity’.”

Sir Gerald Howarth Conservative MP and former Defence minister

“Where will this intervention lead? Will that be the end of the story or will there be calls for further action? And are we then at risk of having our hand caught in the mangle? I hope when the Government says no decision has been made that is genuinely the case and they are going to listen to Parliament.”

Douglas  Alexander Shadow Foreign Secretary

“It is necessary for the inspectors to provide their information to the UN, and in addition, that information which has led the British and US governments to claim publicly that Assad is responsible should also, as much as it can, be made public.”

Christopher R Hill Former US special envoy to Kosovo

“The problem with Syria is that it’s bombing in the absence of a political plan. I think we’re opening a big door. Every time you drop bombs on something, you can’t entirely predict the results.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

£16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific