We have a moral duty to mistrust the government on Syria, spectator.co.uk

Almost two years have passed since Sir John Chilcot produced his 12-volume report on the lessons of the Iraq war.

We collectively promised to learn the lessons.

Last weekend it was as if the Chilcot report never happened. Britain, cheered on by a bellicose press and a largely docile Parliament, launched airstrikes that showed the same disregard for due process against which Chilcot warned. Remember what Chilcot told us: ‘The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.’[…]

It‘s true that Russia blocked a proposal to create a new joint UN OPCW investigative mechanism which would have a new and broader mandate to apportion blame for any attack it concluded had happened. But it was actually Syria and Russia who asked for the OPCW fact-finding mission.

This is extremely significant. Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.[…]

There are also question marks around the veracity of British and American assertions about the bombing raids. The US said it struck three known chemical weapons facilities in Syria – including at Barzeh and Jamraya outside Damascus. Yet the OPCW itself found these sites to have no chemical weapons as recently as last November.

In order to help prove the existence of chemical weapons, Theresa May said in her statement to Parliament on Monday that Asad’s helicopters were operating over Douma shortly before reports of a chemical weapons attack emerged. This was true, but completely irrelevant. Nobody disputes that bombings was occurring and that helicopters were in the area. The real question is, what was the payload? The alternative explanation of the incident offered by the Syrians is that conventional bombing caused it. The presence of helicopters is consistent with this explanation. Läs artikel