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A unique feature of the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) is its incorporation of the “challenge inspection”.

Until the United Nations inspection team reveals conclusive and credible evidence of chemical warfare, nobody has the legal right to intervene in the Syrian civil war.

Only after such evidence has been considered by the UN can any action be taken against the culprits in this atrocity.

Thus far there is no credible evidence as to who launched the chemical attack in Syria.

There is nothing legitimate or morally correct about the US and the UK taking military action. This is a UN matter. Moreover, the outcomes of other recent United States and UK military actions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan do not suggest any desirable outcome.

If we don’t learn from Iraq, we shall all have blood on our hands.

Malcolm McDonald

Arkaig Drive

Crossford, Dunfermline

Anthony Daniels (Letters, 23 August) asks: “How would an independent Scotland respond to the heartbreaking atrocities ­taking place in Syria?”

That isn’t the exigent question, which is: how ought an independent Scotland respond?

The first question would be answered by what happens on Turkey’s borders and how it is interpreted.

If one member of Nato is attacked, an attack on one is an attack on all.

The second question, namely a political and hence moral one, is much more difficult to answer. Arguably and hopefully an independent Scotland would uphold its values abroad as it does at home.

It is debatable whether or not this is possible in a Nato alliance committed to the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk

Inverurie

I do not know if president Bashar al-Assad of Syria is a good or a bad man.

I do not, however, think he is a stupid man and the suggestion that, in full view of the world, he would order a chemical gas attack on his own people is very hard to believe.

And I remain confused. Are civilian deaths by gassing worse than civilian deaths brought about by being blown to bits by a US or UK missile?

I certainly know where by far the highest totals are in this regard. The vote next September cannot come soon enough.

David McEwan Hill

Sandbank

Argyll

If parliament is to hold a ­debate and vote on a punitive strike against Syria, it should be a free vote.

MPs are elected as the people’s representatives and should be free to articulate their constituents’ views in matters as serious as armed conflict.

In imposing a three-line whip, David Cameron is once again attacking democracy and ignoring the will of the people.

The Executive has shown many times that it cannot be trusted and few of us believe that, on this issue, it is acting in the best interest of the UK.

Peter Speight

Howe Street

Edinburgh

One wonders why Bashar al-Assad would wish to bring Europe and the USA into the war in Syria.

Is he testing the will of the Western governments or are we stumbling into another militant Islamist trap if the chemical atrocity was not committed by the regime?

Alternatively, do the Western allies want to seize the opportunity to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons to prevent their use on Israel in the future by whichever side wins the civil war?

Whatever happens as a result of the debate in Westminster there seems no way of helping the ordinary peace-loving people who will continue to suffer until this terrible war ends.

Mike Underwood

Friars Brae

Linlithgow

I find it interesting, when tragedies occur, how those in power use the phrase, “lessons will be learnt”, and yet these same people have clearly forgotten what history has already taught us.

While the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war is reprehensible, irrespective of who initiated this, it is timely to remember, as Aonghas MacNeacail detailed in his letter (29 August), that the Americans sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a defoliant which contained ­carcinogenic chemicals, over ­Vietnam during that conflict.

The consequences of that action are still evident today some 50 years after the event.

Some three million Americans, in the period between 1960 and the early 1970s, were involved in that conflict, with 1.5 million being there during the heaviest spraying period (1967-69).

I gleaned these facts from the America Cancer Society web-page, which details the likely cancers that could present themselves in the Vietnam veterans but, although I searched, the organisation did not detail the deaths, suffering and the deformities of the Vietnamese civilian population.

It seems that five million Vietnamese people were so affected.

The manner in which a nation’s history, not just America, is airbrushed to suit the current generation was evident during a Edinburgh International Book Festival lecture by William Dalrymple as he reflected on the actions of the British (East India Company) in the Middle East.

The first casualty of war is, indeed, the truth.

Alan McKinney

Beauchamp Road

Edinburgh

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