Am I alone in being cynical about the reaction throughout the West to the chemical attack in Syria earlier this week? In the context of six years of atrocities, of tens of thousands of deaths and many more mutilations, of millions driven from their homes, what makes is this particular act more reprehensible than a thousand others?
We – the Western powers, the ‘good guys’ – maintain an arsenal of nuclear weapons which we are prepared to use if threatened. We permit certain other nations to do the same whilst imposing sanctions intended to prevent their acquisition by nations we fear. And we have trade deals worth $billions with Saudi Arabia, including the sale and maintenance of state-of-the-art weapon systems despite what that nation is doing to its neighbour, Yemen.
Is the plight of children starving in Yemen because the Saudis refuse to allow food aid to be delivered any less deplorable than that of the victims of chemical warfare in Syria? Or those being used as human shields in Mosul? Both conflicts now driven from our television screens by this latest Syrian atrocity.
The Middle East is a mess. It has been so for as long as I can remember. Every time one or other of the more powerful nations of the world, including the ‘good guys’, has intervened it has made things worse. Shelling an airfield might make Trump and his supporters feel good. I doubt it will make any difference to the lives of children in any Arab land.