The old adage that truth is the first casualty of war has never been truer than in the post-truth era.
Did yesterday’s strike on Syria plunge the west into a new Cold War – with the US, the UK and France lining up against Russia in a proxy battle in volatile, foreign territory?
Or was it the world’s first act of war negotiated between two superpowers?
The now obligatory conspiracy theory would see the Russians allowing Donald Trump an act of minor retribution to save face after his latest Twitter impersonation of the local hardman in the pub car park.
It says something about the darkness the world faces where this grotesque scenario is by far the more palatable.
It would certainly make Theresa May’s haste to act seem slightly more forgivable.
Even her most persistent critics would hesitate to portray May as a bloodthirsty opportunist eager to boost her domestic ratings with a foreign, military adventure.
So, why on Earth did the PM rush to join an alliance with Trump – striking before the arrival of chemical weapons inspectors, eschewing the voice of Parliament and entering murky legal territory? Not to mention the risk of repercussions from an increasingly unhinged Russian regime.
The Cold War comparison is apposite only to a degree. Between 1945 and 1990, no serious shots were fired in anger. The use of nerve agents on enemy soil was not a factor.
This is much more serious. May will not have to search far for flak in the coming days. And plenty of it will be merited.
Apart from anything else, the PM’s rush to involvement stands in stark contrast to her approach to dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis.
She couldn’t run far enough from her moral responsibilities then, leaving the EU and German chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, to pick up the slack.
Beware the critic, though, who offers no alternative other than to stand aside and turn a blind eye to Bashar al-Assad’s latest atrocity.
We cannot become numb to statesponsored chemical attacks on children because of the barbaric recent standards in the region. Or because of the appalling frequency with which this sort of atrocity takes place.
Nor should much attention be paid to the apologists who claim there is not enough evidence to justify a response. They deserve little more than contempt.
Syria is the world’s problem. Standing aside because it’s just too difficult to solve is not a viable option.
Why on Earth did the PM rush to join an alliance with Trump?