The proverbial war drums are beating louder than I have ever heard them. Admittedly I wasn’t listening as attentively during the ‘sexed-up’ lead-up to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions – this time, however, I am trying to pay attention to both sides of the story. Maybe we can witness the mechanics of the phantom leviathan that always seems to succeed in pulling the world into spirals of endless armed conflict.

As yet, no one has admitted responsibility for the latest chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and the government have flatly denied it, yet the US & UK are ‘finalising plans to strike at the end of the week‘.

Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, “dismissing the chemical weapons accusations as “nonsense” and “unsubstantiated” said the United States, Britain and France had long sought to justify a military intervention in Syria.”

In an interview for a Russian newspaper yesterday he went on to say, “Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed… they don’t know history and don’t learn its lessons… Have they even glanced through the documents of their predecessors who failed in all wars they started since Vietnam? Have they realized those wars brought about nothing but havoc and instability in the Middle East and in other regions?” 

Despite insistent denials from Damascus, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke very strongly against the Syrian government, spelling out that the US ‘know’ it was them. He then offered a classic appeal; “It is really hard to express in words the human suffering they lay out before us. As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head, of a man who held up his dead child, wailing while chaos swirled around him…”. These are the words of a politician whose own government is responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people all over the Middle East. The irony is crushing. And as if to pre-emptorily write-off any expressions of opposition, he said, “Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass.” See John Kerry’s full speech here

Interestingly, President Obama has been more restrained, saying the “U.S should be weary of being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”

Even so, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that he is “weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration. Such an attack would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles – or, possibly, long-range bombers – striking military targets in Syria”.

Russia and Iran have issued warnings against military intervention. The Russian Foreign Ministry said “Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa… Russia has been Assad’s most important international ally during the conflict, supplying his troops with arms and resisting pressure at the United Nations for tighter sanctions on Damascus.”

It is easy to see how things point to war, it is hard to see how they don’t.