On April 7, the Syrian city of Douma and its inhabitants suffered a chemical weapons attack, writes MP John Hayes.
Although yet to be confirmed, the poison appears to have been a mixture of both Chlorine and Sarine gas. This barbarism resulted in the death of at least 40 people, including many women and children.
The United Nations investigation into the attack was shut down by Russia’s veto at the Security Council – so it seems that Vladimir Putin’s regime are not only dismissive of the use of dangerous chemicals on UK soil, but prepared to protect those who gas their own people.
Last week, The Prime Minister decided to stand alongside the US and France, as the primary Western military powers and to take action.
As we did so, it is instructive that other democracies, including Canada, Australia, Germany and Spain, declared their support for our efforts.
There are those in Britain who trade in doubt, delay and indecision. Yet the information received by Theresa May, President Trump and President Macron, was specific enough for us to target and degrade three sites involved in the production and storage of vile chemical weapons.
Appeasement would encourage every tyrant to unleash the worst of warfare as the rules of the world fell victim to inaction.
As the great American President, Theodore Roosevelt, said: “Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.”
We had to hit hard; this is not the first time that Bashar al-Assad has unleashed chemical weapons on his own people. If the free world, once again, refused to rouse ourselves to action, condemnation would amount to nothing more than hollow conjecture. The West, and the international ban on chemical warfare, would have been horribly undermined by a refusal to stand firm. It’s always better to do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.
In taking action, the Prime Minister used the royal prerogative; a time-honoured right that links the power of the Head of State to the Head of Government. It was entirely constitutionally correct for her to do so, for the Prime Minister heads the executive. It is for Parliament, the legislative body, to hold Ministers to account and to consider legislation, not to conduct Government.
The Latin phrase ‘sic semper tyrannis’ which means ‘thus always with tyrants’ sheds light on harrowing circumstance in which we find ourselves. Tyrants always turn to the most horrendous means of oppression when they fear the loss of power.
In this way Assad’s actions are ‘sic semper tyrannis’. But, by standing up to him, showing that there is a price to pay for unleashing the kind of weapons banned by international agreement since the 1920’s, we, the free peoples of the world, will have avoided the easy path by taking the right one.