Caught between ‘monsters’ and ‘maniacs’ as West ponders strikes on Syria


The guided missile destroyer USS Porter launches a Tomahawk missile toward Iraq during the initial stages of the US-led invasion in 2003 (AFP Photo/HO)

As British prime minister Theresa May summons her cabinet to approve solidarity with US-led air strikes on Syria, consider the range of opinions on the move.

The Times, London reports on polling that shows that only a fifth of British voters support air strikes.

Most people don’t believe military action is the right way forward. With the common sense that is often lacking in Washington hawks, ordinary people wonder how it would help suffering Syrians to bomb their country.

MPs belonging to Ms May’s own party are dubious, and rightly so. It was particularly striking to hear Conservative MP Julian Lewis express his reservations. We’re caught between “monsters and maniacs”, he said, lamenting that the West should not be seeking to remove “secular dictators”, and leaving a void to be filled by “religious fanatics”. Mr Lewis added that unless the western powers plan for a full-scale war that would prevent the collapse of the secular Syrian state, Bashar Al Assad’s regime would be “just like toppling Gaddafi and just like toppling Saddam Hussein”.

We all know how that went.