2 million refugees, 5 million displaced internally – in Syria…

Paddy Ashdown in the House of Lords made for me the most important speech last Thursday, as he argued for a ‘limited, defined, targeted, proportional and within international law’ response to Bashar al-Assad’s chemical bombing of ‘rebel-held’ parts of Damascus. ‘Take no action, you will then have the certainty that this chemical convention and the laws behind it will become a dead letter. You will have the certainty that chemical weapons have been used once with impunity and can go on being used again with impunity. You will have the certainty that this will happen in the other conflicts that are about to rage, and are raging, in the Middle East. You will have the certainty that in due course, that will be delivered to us too. Yes, we have an interest in this.’ On the other hand, Archbishop Justin Welby argued persuasively against action that increases the present devastation and suffering inflicted on Christians in Syria, which also cannot guarantee any further use of chemical weapons. Now, talk is of ‘degrading’ Assad’s regime’s forces – assuming Barack Obama persuades Congress of the need for US military action against Syria. The UK parliament has it seems missed the opportunity to join the USA in military action.

This morning the sun rose over mist laying over the fields and trees between my window and Ashdown Forest.  image My reading of Nevile Shute’s novels (in order of publication) has reached 1938/9 “What happened to the Corbett’s?” Shute describes the unpreparedness of the country for war – by the time the book was published; 1,000 copies were distributed free to workers in Air Raid precautions. But, however weak militarily Britain might have been then in 1939, it was a homogenous nation which was able to rise to fascism with a racism that led to the holocaust. Despite the view of peace from my window, that can most certainly not be said of Britain today, where those who beat the drums of war wilfully ignore the gaping fissures within the communities of Britain today; escalating Middle Eastern war will cause great tragedy between those fissures.

Lord Ashdown is right, despite the uncertainties. Assuming the prize of de-escalating Middle East tensions, that would give Britain a little longer to come to its senses, to wake up to the self centredness of so many, and for working harder for the common good – a work that can only be seriously undertaken by ‘one nation, under God’ with St Pauls’ “whole armour….”

Garth Hewitt finishes his latest album of songs, ‘Liberty is near’ with the lines
May thy spirit, Lord instruct them
still thy love their souls inbue,
Thy unerring hand conduct them,
till they thee in glory view.
Thy great power bespeaks the ocean,
in each drop thy smile we see;
nature’s voice awakes devotion,
gentle breezes tell of thee,
gentle breezes tell of thee.
A hymn re-discovered from the Chartists of the 1830’s, as they fought for one man, one vote.