We need a redline on beheadings
John Kerry calls the Syrian goverment's chemical weapons attack on its own people a "moral obscenity."
What does he call the rebels' actions when they force a child to behead a Syrian civilian? If we're going to threaten a redline over chemical weapons, why not have one for beheadings?
There are "moral obscenities" breaking out all over the world. If we tried to do something about all of them, we'd never have peace. This particular "moral obscenity" has to be seen in the context of a civil war in which we shouldn't be backing either side - that the eventual outcome doesn't favor us in any case, and our intervention may open the door to a wider war that would be nasty, messy, and counter to our interests.
Don't you see the moral imperative?' one of Cameron's closest advisers demanded angrily of a sceptical soldier a few months ago.
Unfortunately, for the cause of justice and truth, loose talk about morality is a luxury grown-up governments cannot often afford to indulge.
What matters is what can be done realistically in Syria, a colossal mess in which there is little to choose for nastiness between the competing factions.
'They're all nutters,' said one of the Government's most sensible ministers -- and a profound sceptic about intervention -- at a recent National Security Council meeting.
The West faces the huge and probably insoluble problem that President Assad is the client and protege of Russia.