There were a few reactions to what I wrote yesterday about my dream for a 'mass movement of peace'.
One friend who worked in aid and development in Africa wrote: 'I confess to liking the idea of pacifism, but being very happy to have an AK47 in my room when the Lord's Resistance Army were close by - and [I was] willing to use it'.
Another argued for a just war: 'I fully support Hiroshima/Nagasaki [because] I'm convinced by the scholarly research that the number of lives likely saved by reason of the two bombings way exceeds the lives lost and the other consequences'.
The key to this is that it was justified by the scholarly research. That's not what was used to support the US missile attack on the Syrian air base last week.
In that case it was information about the Idlib chemical weapons attacks passed on by the White Helmets humanitarian group, which has made it clear it wants to see Assad gone.
Prominent US journalist Max Blumenthal wrote in AlterNet last year that the White Helmets were 'created by Western governments and popularised by a top PR firm' and that they are 'saving civilians while lobbying for airstrikes'.
If that's true, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Russians are correct when they claim that the Idlib attack was a false propaganda event staged by the White Helmets.
The former diplomat Tony Kevin wrote on the Australian Institute of International Affairs website on Monday that 'well placed observers' say there was 'zero US intelligence linking Assad to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib and Trump’s decision to attack the Syrian air base was taken entirely on the basis of the White Helmets' audiovisual material'.
Another friend who wrote to me yesterday - Justin Glyn - has an article in Eureka Street titled 'No easy judgment in Syrian chemicals attack'. He provides a long list of reasons to doubt US claims about the attack, which may even have not involved chemicals. 'The pictures released show the rescuers apparently unharmed... If it was a sarin attack, the rescuers would be as dead as their victims'.
Yet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insists it was 'chemical weapons' and says 'there is no doubt in our minds that ... [Assad is] responsible for this attack'.
This could be the kind of false intelligence that led the US and the 'Coalition of the Willing' to blunder into the Iraq invasion in 2003 that has arguably precipitated most of the trouble we have in the Middle East today. We all remember the 'mobile [chemical] weapons laboratory' that was used to justify the invasion and was later found not to exist. Now we could have a war against Russia based on false intelligence.