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.”

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

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

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

School Office/ Finance Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: School Office/ Finance Assistant Long t...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album