That, according to my extremely well placed and utterly reliable source close to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is the sum total of Clegg’s understanding and insight into the issues surrounding the possible launch of military action against Syria.
The document issued by the Joint Intelligence Committee, upon which the government has made its decision to attack Syria, clearly accepts that there is no ‘smoking gun’ that proves al-Assad and his forces were responsible for the presumed use of chemical munitions. We are witnessing a frightening absence of strategic thinking, and an almost childlike simplicity that passes for examination of the issues and the consequences of participating in strikes against Syrian military targets. The obsessive focus of this country’s political leaders – the lightbulb around which the Ministerial moths are circling and against which they are butting their heads – is the word ‘chemical’. Nothing else, including evidence or origin of the reported attack, seems to matter.
It is on the basis of supposition, suspicion, and a desire to somehow aid the rebels (beyond the provision of ‘non lethal’ equipment and support) that David Cameron and William Hague wish to engage in hostilities and rain missiles down on Syrian territory. There is no proof. It is nothing more than an article of faith and wishful thinking that the government asserts only al-Assad could be responsible for the use of chemical weapons, despite the certainty that the ‘rebels’ also have them.
It is profoundly disturbing, from the available evidence and debate in the Commons, that this country’s supposed leaders are incapable of exhibiting even the level of critical thinking and reasoning skills that would be expected of a Sixth Form debating society, particularly when the subject has such grave implications for the safety and security of this country’s armed forces and general population.