Pots and kettles come to mind when members of our conservative coalition government accuse someone of hypocrisy.
William Hague and David Cameron, who have given gung-ho support to all imperialist wars in the Middle East, north Africa and central Asia, are in no position to cast such accusations.
The death toll in Syria - over 60,000 - is horrific, but it is dwarfed by the slaughter unleashed in Iraq by the US and Britain a decade ago.
No-one could deny that the Ba'ath regime in Syria has blood on its hands. It would be unique in the region if it had not.
But anyone who wants the current war of attrition to be superseded by a more inclusive democracy with respect for national and religious minorities must accept that the first step is an end to military hostilities.
Syria's various opposition groups were divided over how to raise their disagreements with the government to a more effective level.
Some championed democratic reforms and greater respect for human rights while others had their own agendas, often fuelled by outside influences.
Unlike in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the Western powers have been reluctant to commit their own overstretched armed forces to the conflict in Syria, preferring to subcontract operations to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and, to the greatest degree, Qatar.
While Cameron and Hague, along with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, proclaim their backing for Syria's moderate, pro-democracy opposition, US weapons from Qatar are delivered to extremist jihadist groups to whom democracy is an anathema.
At the same time, US intelligence services claim, without a smidgeon of evidence, that Damascus plans to use chemical weapons, prompting the US people to see the Syrian government as the sole problem.
These jihadist groups, composed mainly of non-Syrians, are intent on military victory as a prelude to recasting Syria as a theocracy in their own image.
The gulf between their goals and the supposed principles for which Western powers claim to stand is immense.
Yet Britain, France and the US refuse to countenance using their influence to end arms trafficking to the jihadist groups and to seek a UN-sponsored compromise solution in the interests of Syria's suffering people.
This is not the first time that the West has, for what it views as its own short-term benefit, rejected negotiations in favour of fuelling a protracted war.
It did the same in Afghanistan, not only when the Soviet Red Army was supporting the Kabul government but even after its withdrawal when president Najibullah was pursuing a modernising and reformist agenda similar to that claimed by the country's current occupiers.
This short-termism strengthened the so-called "holy warrior" opposition to Najibullah and opened the way for al-Qaida and similar groups in the region.
Western short-termism with regard to Syria is fraught with tragedy not just for the Syrian people but for the international situation.
London, Washington and Paris are obsessed with Iran and believe that overthrow of the Assad government would isolate Tehran, but Syria in the hands of jihadists or fragmented between various religio-militarist formations would spell disaster.
The Nato powers should take a more measured approach and engage with President Assad's proposals for a ceasefire, a national reconciliation conference and a new constitution.
A long drawn-out war, financed and to an extent fought by foreign interests, can be of no benefit to the Syrian people.
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