Last night President Trump took military action against Syria. His previous assertion that ISIS was the real enemy, out of the window. Of course he backed himself into a corner by ridiculing Obama for not taking action last time Assad used chemical weapons. The British Bulldog Puppy has promptly come to heel wagging it's tail in the form of Michael Fallon.
The British media especially the BBC has a long established air of credibility, but the idea that we know everything that's going on is of course laughable. So lets make some speculation and at least try to read between the lines. I think, on balance of probability that President Assad, whom, and to be clear where I stand, I detest, probably did use chemical weapons on his own people and not for the first time. He probably thinks that with Putin's Russia in his corner and the Russian veto at the UN in his pocket that he can act with impunity.
However, there has to be a few percentage points of doubt. Assad will have known that Trump had backed himself into a corner and would be forced to take action, or to look weak, so even with the Russian UN veto in his pocket the likelihood of a unilateral strike against him by the USA if he used nerve gas must surely have entered even his twisted mind. Then there is the official Syrian line that they have enough conventional weapons to get the job done in Idlib without resorting to chemical weapons. You'd have to say that they certainly do.
There have been reports that conventional munitions hit a chemical weapons dump belonging to the rebels, it's unlikely, but not inconceivable that the rebels got their hands on some Sarin formerly belonging to Assad, it may even be that Assad had some hidden Sarin in the area. He was supposed to have got rid of all his chemical weapons but we know what these people are like. There are a number of possibilities even before wandering into the realm of conspiracy theories.
Sadly, there are in this world people who think military action away from their borders is good business, especially those with shares in munitions manufacturers, like certain politicians. So a set up, a framing of Assad if you like, whilst being the least likely possibility is at least a possibility.
We don't know what the CIA, GCHQ etc know, maybe Trump didn't need to wait for an inquiry, perhaps he should have. Impossible for me to say. If the Austro Hungarians had dealt with the assassins of Archduke Ferdinand precipitately instead of waiting they'd have presented the Russians with a fait accompli and just maybe we wouldn't have had World War One.
The difficulty with hindsight is that we know what did happen after a certain action, we cannot be sure what the final outcome would have been from an alternative action, or even inaction. For example we know that Blair's British Bulldog puppy came to heel for Bush, the so called Arab Spring followed, with chaos and rebellions everywhere and a huge migrant crisis. Regime change in Iraq did not turn out so well.
Russia accuses the USA of using the Syrian crisis to deflect attention from civilian casualties in Iraq. It seems to me that British and Western media generally has never given us an accurate picture of the numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths either in the invasion of Iraq or since. More than eighty to ninety people though, maybe eighty to ninety thousand people, maybe many more even. How can we know? The Russians have certainly killed many more than eighty to ninety innocent men women and children in Syria and recently at that.
Of course, seeing people die in agony, foaming at the mouth adds another dimension to the horror, but the people blown up the Russians or by Western forces are just as dead. Russia says Trump's actions amount to an illegal attack on a sovereign country, technically that's true. Given that deposing Saddam Hussein went so well I do worry, as much as I detest Assad, about what will happen if we don't learn anything from deposing Saddam who I also detested.
There is also something to be said for maintaining the moral high ground and not killing more people yourself. From where I sit one of the biggest problems is the UN, when did the UN really achieve anything more than spreading disease through unsanitary military camps, letting down the people of Bosnia, failing to defend innocent victims half an hours drive from one of their bases and relying on Wonder Woman to bail them out.
OK that's unfair, they have distributed aid and responded to natural disasters and the front line people in those situations are heroes and heroines it is undeniable. However, what is the prime purpose of the UN? Surely it must be to end conflict between nation states and to that end it has failed utterly and continues to fail utterly.
The United Nations is constitutionally flawed, it was created in a post World War Two, emerging Cold War era with a Security Council of the world's so called Great Powers. Five nations who punch above their weight, have an unfair and unreasonable veto and who cling to it because they and their politicians cannot bear not to be Great Powers.
The UN could actually learn a lot from the EU, flawed as that is. What about a rotating presidency and what about an equal say for everyone? Responding to this atrocity but not that one, acting with UN approval when it suits and without when you can't get it is no way forward. The UN has to change and become effective or throw the towel in and become a disasters charity.