Syria, the west’s response and international law,

Before insisting on a military attack on Syria (After Douma the west’s response must be military, 10 April), it might be as well to reflect on historical precedent. In 1936 a revolt broke out in a Spanish province against the legitimate elected government of the republic by half the army. Although intensely disliked by the privileged and the Roman Catholic church in Spain, it was, like Assad’s, the legitimate government of Spain. The League of Nations authorised an arms embargo on Spain which was rigorously enforced by blockade by Britain and France (two substantial maritime empires at the time) in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. As a result, a prolonged civil war ensued with thousands of casualties, with the legitimate government deprived of the resources essential for fighting the rebel forces, while the fascist/Nazi governments of Italy and Spain poured arms and troops (especially air forces) with impunity into the conflict, which lasted until winter 1938. Läs artikel