22 March 2018
Letter to the Editors
Use of Novichok
from Mr Anthony Silver
After Chilcot, it is prudent to be cautious over basing a material course of action on the accuracy and veracity of government pronouncements regarding the use WMD (of which Novichok is one). In the Lens of The Week, you ask the question ‘why’, and in the normal course of events that is a perfectly sensible and reasonable question.
Raising the question does however imply to the reader that, unless an understandable motive is apparent, doubt must be cast upon whether this is state sanctioned action, rogue elements, an angle which is going to be increasingly spun over the coming weeks by appeasers and apologists in order to muddy the waters, or a host of other alternatives which will keep the conspiracy theorists engaged.
It may be more constructive to ask the question ‘why not?’. It is clear that strategically Russia has a lot more to gain than to lose by the disclosure – provided it is vigorously denied by official organs; the ‘punishment’ of double agents/defectors is never going to be a casus belli.
Where the sponsors of the action have miscalculated is in the effect that collateral damage has on public opinion. In Western Democracies it is far harder to manipulate this than under the regimes with which they are more familiar.