Today the world waits: with the USA, UK and France seemingly ready to launch missile strikes on Syria, the Italian government said yesterday that they will not allow Italian bases to be used in connection with this plan without UN agreement. Even in this unlikely event, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino has added today, Italy will not automatically lend its support to any strikes. Meanwhile NAS Sigonella in Sicily is on standby.
I can only quote Churchill:
"To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."
Quite what you do when one party refuses to "jaw-jaw" or, as it appears in this case, has crossed a humanitarian red line, no one has yet worked out, though a solution short of war ought not to be beyond our power in the 21st century.
"The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori",
wrote Wilfred Owen. What worries me is that new lie of modern warfare, the idea that war, once unleashed, can somehow be contained and sanitised; that civilians will not be hurt; and that terrified people will not attempt to flee. War creates injuries, it creates widows and orphans and it creates refugees.
At dawn this morning a migrant boat containing 191 desperate souls, all of whom declared themsleves to be Syrian, was intercepted by the Italian Coast Guard 60 - 70 miles south of Siracusa. Among the 51 women, 48 children and 92 men the coastguards found a newborn baby girl with part of her umbilical cord still attached. She and her mother were immediately transferred to hospital, where both are said to be doing well.
The baby girl, said the captain of the Siracusa Coast Guard, is "more proof that life always triumphs." Let us hope so as the world continues to wait.