Peter Hitchens — Daily Mail Sept 16, 2018
Are we on the brink of a new war? It looks very much like it. Will it be justified? I do not think so. Can we stop it? It is worth a try.
Almost everyone missed an amazing and worrying moment in Parliament last week when Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt gave us a glimpse of the Government’s thinking. They will go to war without waiting for the facts to be checked, and without recalling Parliament.
In a very brief debate about the war in Syria, he was asked about plans – now being openly discussed at high levels in Washington – for a devastating attack on Damascus.
This will be in response to a supposed atrocity that has yet to take place but about which the Americans openly say they already have evidence – probably an alleged poison gas attack, in which we will see heartbreaking but unverified film of dead or dying children, from propaganda sources, and claims of multiple deaths from untraceable ‘eyewitnesses’.
In my view, these claims are very similar to the claims of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ (WMD) in Iraq, used to bamboozle the British and American people into that catastrophic war; and also to the claims of mass rape and massacre, equally unproven, which were the excuse for David Cameron’s disastrous attack on Libya.
These two wars together created the great march of migrants from Asia and Africa into Europe, which is transforming the continent – and also led to the rebirth of Islamist terror. Yet those responsible do not learn and continue to take us for fools.
I have checked several of the Syrian poison gas claims in the past, by reading carefully the reports of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Here are the two most important: the OPCW never even went to the site of the alleged gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, which was the pretext for a spectacular American cruise missile attack on Syria.
I also found that there was no reliable custody chain for the samples supposedly taken from this site.
This is vital for the detailed forensic work that alone can discover what happened and who is to blame.
How important is this? Ask the OPCW. In April 2013, the OPCW’s then-spokesman, Michael Luhan, said quite clearly: ‘The OPCW would never get involved in testing samples that our own inspectors don’t gather in the field because we need to maintain chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab to ensure their integrity.’
So under its own rules, the OPCW did not meet the conditions for a reliable investigation. But that didn’t stop the warmongers. The governments that wanted to attack Syria anyway responded by turning to another organisation. This also didn’t go to the site. But it took more or less the same evidence and concluded from it that the Assad government in Syria had used poison gas.
Next came the supposed gas attack on Douma, near Damascus, on April 7, 2018. This was also followed by US bombing of Syria, this time assisted by us and the French.
It was widely claimed at the time that organophosphorus (sarin) and chlorine gas weapons had been used. In fact, the claims were so widely publicised that I know of one MP (and former Minister) who last week wrongly told a constituent there is ‘conclusive evidence’ that the Syrian state used poison gas, and that Russia and Syria blocked access to the site.
If such a person can be so wrong, what hope is there for a wise decision by our Government?
In fact, the OPCW report from Douma (this time they actually got to the site) concluded that ‘no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected’.
The OPCW is still looking into claims that chlorine was used, but it also made it clear that Russia and Syria did not block access to the scene. The UN Department of Safety and Security accepted a delay was necessary because it simply was not safe to visit.
The OPCW’s careful Douma report, barely mentioned in Western media, was obviously inconvenient to those who want a new attack on Syria. So, yet again, there’s a rival report, by people who did not actually go to Douma. Even so, they claim to have a ‘vast body of evidence’ the Syrian government used poison gas there.
Well, the Middle East is as much of an unexploded bomb today as Europe was in 1914. Saudi Arabia hates Iran, and Iran loathes the Saudis right back. Syria, which the West plans to bomb heavily in the next few weeks, is the close ally of Iran. Behind the Saudis stand the USA, Britain and France. Behind the Iranians stand the Russians and perhaps China.
I cannot see what possible interest Britain has in getting involved in such a dangerous mess, which could land us in the worst and most widespread war for decades.
Before we join any such action, we must wait for real hard evidence. Parliament, now on holiday for a whole month, must be recalled. I’d suggest MPs do a bit of homework on the issue, too. Or we will all pay.