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The unseemly haste with which politicians in the US, UK and France are rushing to war reminds us of Iraq. The chemical weapon attack was a terrible atrocity, but we have no independent evidence that it was carried out by the Assad regime. Western governments have claimed that the evidence is conclusive, but most of it was supplied by Israel, which has a vested interest. The UK and US have a terrible history of murderous interference in the Middle East, and certainly do not have the mandate or moral high ground to act as world police, as Hans Blix points out.

The mechanism the world has created to deal with crises like this is the United Nations. There are currently UN inspectors on the ground in Syria, and we need to wait for the UN report. We also need to know what intelligence says about the culprit.

No unilateral attacks by the UK, US or their allies should be launched on Syria. If there is a decision to take military action, it should be done carefully, with a mandate to bring about an end to the conflict and a negotiated settlement as soon as possible.

Assad is a brutal dictator, and we support the Syrian people who are fighting to liberate themselves from him. But the situation has become hopelessly complicated by the number of regional power plays and proxy wars being fought in Syria, and by the increasing involvement of islamist groups. We cannot bring freedom and democracy with bombs.

In the US, fast food workers are taking part in a nationwide strike, the biggest in the industry’s history. They are demanding a living wage of $15 per hour.

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