It was somewhat refreshing to watch a little bit of sanity prevail in Parliament last night (usually a place where sanity fears to tread) with the vote by MPs against the British taking military action in Syria.
Of course, what has happened in Syria with the use of chemical weapons is diabolical and, yes, I do believe those responsible must be held to account for this atrocity. But if the use of these weapons is a transgression of international law (which we are told it is), then it is the role of the international community, as a whole, to take action, and not individual states. The means of exercising such action is through the UN Security Council.
Of course, everyone knows that if a resolution authorising the use of military force against the Syrian government is sought at the UN, the Russians and the Chinese are likely to either veto or vote against it, which is their prerogative (though why they want to be seen to be supporting a regime that is happy to indiscriminately gas thousands of its own people is beyond me). And yes, the failure to get a resolution would probably mean that chemical weapons would be used again.
But what going through the UN would mean is that when history looks back at what has happened in Syria and sees all those dead bodies in the streets, the finger of complicity will be pointed at those members of the Security Council who decided not to support action to prevent the further use of these horrific, outlawed weapons, and not at those countries that did what they could, within the structure of international law, to put a stop to it.
What our politicians should now be doing, rather than rattling their sabres at the Syrian regime, is convincing the Russians and the Chinese that, however much they may want to keep Assad in power, the use of chemical weapons in this vicious civil war is something that they simply cannot countenance, and that they should use their influence to prevent it happening again.
Then, at some point in the future when the violence in Syria is over, work can begin to bring to justice those who ordered the use of these heinous weapons and who have the blood of so many on their hands.