Regardless of how ‘surgical’ strikes are claimed to be, military action is a blunt instrument that, in this case, is on the table merely because of a poverty of alternatives.
For the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, there is no doubt that the ruling Assad regime is responsible for the horrific gas attack in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on 21 August 2013. Given the so called ‘red line’ articulated by President Obama a year ago, and several times since, over the use of chemical weapons, it is unsurprising that western allies are preparing themselves for some kind of intervention.
The march toward engagement continues apace. French President Hollande has articulated his wish to "punish" those responsible, and according to a Reuters report rebel groups have been told to expect some kind of military action in the coming days - albeit, following last night’s vote, it now seems unlikely that Britain would participate in the first wave of any such attack. It is worth reflecting once more on the background to the conflict and considering, carefully, the possible consequences of action or inaction.