Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
5 April 2017

Our Syria policy has been a failure for years

We won't ever have a Chilcot-style inquiry into our non-intervention. Perhaps we should.

By Stephen Bush

 Up to 100 people have been killed and more injured following a sarin attack in Syria, which, according to the Foreign Office, bears all the hallmarks of being from Bashar Al-Assad’s government.

“Two war crimes in one day: first killed, then bombed” is the i‘s splash. “Children gassed as they slept” is the Metro‘s, “Outrage against Assad after nerve gas attack” is the Times, while “Assad Gassing Kids Again” is the Mirror’s.

The US, France and our own government are calling on the UN to “investigate” the attack. As a symbol as to how little that’s worth, and how little Western politicians have done in the face of Assad’s crimes, members of the Syrian diaspora are giving out nosepegs to symbolise Western inaction.

The grim truth is that our Syria policy has been a failure for the best part of a decade long. Four years after Ed Miliband “stopped the rush to war” we see how ludicrous that claim was. Now that Donald Trump, who regards Assad as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, in the region, is in the White House, the chances of any serious consequences for his regime have flickered down from “slim” to “non-existent”.

Instead, we’re counting down the years until a Secretary of State for International Trade stands at the steps of a palace, and salutes a President, who fought a terrible, hard war against “domestic insurgents” and praises his commitment to anti-jihadism. We won’t ever have a Chilcot-style inquiry into our non-intervention in Syria. Perhaps we should.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them