The attack on Syria is now over, says the Pentagon – so where does this leave us? Last time 55 missiles were fired on the airbase from which Assad launched chemical weapons attacks. It was back in use days later, with jets flying off to bomb the same rebels. The United Nations estimated that Assad went on to deploy four more chemical attacks, and that he’s carried out more than 30 (its graphic below).
This is why Theresa May was overstating it in her press conference this morning, saying that the international ban on chemical weapons need to be upheld. It has not been upheld: the Syria conflict has established a new norm. That if you have the right backing (in Assad’s case, Russia and Iran) then you can use chemical weapons. The West will fire a few missiles at largely-empty airports and warehouses, then you get back to business as usual. James Forsyth and I discuss on the podcast whether, rather than deter chemical weapons attacks, the limited strike yesterday simply underlines the terms under which they can be used.