Skipping lightly over the latest intriguing and potentially disturbing news story about my distant cousin Albert Einstein ("Tell me about your other grandfather," someone once said to Sir Clement Freud, to which Freud responded sonorously: "He was the father of psycho-analysis"), and turning to events in Syria, I've realised what's missing from the Syrian scenario. What's missing is nuclear weapons. The dilemma of deciding how best to respond to events in Syria (today defined by Prime Minister David Cameron as an issue of conscience), would surely be that much more complicated if Syria had a nuclear capability. So let's not shed too many pious tears over Israel's having destroyed that capability before it was built. What would we be doing now if Syria had nuclear arms? That is just one question that I'd like to see answered. Others include:
1. Was Hamza al-Khatib tortured? Although what matters is that he is dead. That is tragic enough in itself. For what it's worth, I think that it is possible that the regime is telling the truth when it says he was not tortured. It doesn't necessarily matter, given that he is dead and that is tragic enough, but what's interesting is how, given Syria's status as the current Crisis of the Week, a tragic case like that of Hamza al-Khatib can be adopted as a cause celebre by the international talkerati, without any dispassionate analysis of what actually happened to him. The story of Muhammad al-Durrah is a sad reminder of how truth is often the first casualty of war.
2. What, in the ongoing Arab Spring, would have been happening today in Iraq if Sadaam Hussein and his regime were still in power?
3. Who actually are the opposition in Syria? One would like to be optimistic, but who actually are these people?
4. If (and it is a huge if) the disgusting Syrian government is telling the truth about the deaths of so many members of its security forces, then who has killed these people - is this now a civil war?
5. What is President Assad up to with his country's Kurdish community, and is this a serious development, or mere shadow-boxing?
6. Turkey's relationship with Syria is an intriguing onion that is being peeled day-by-day; when the peeling stops - i.e. when some semblance of stability returns to Syria - which layer of the onion's skin will have been reached: a layer that involves bolstering Assad, or a layer that involves planning for what comes after his imminent departure?