No one watching the scenes from Syria could fail to be sickened by the barbaric acts of violence against men, women and children.
An end to this crisis is vital for the Syrian people.
However, caution should be our watchword.
More than 100,000 people have been brutally slaughtered, many of whom have been decapitated, including women and children.
Almost two million people have been displaced from their homes and many are being left to starve.
The international community has quite rightly viewed the recent use of chemical weapons in Damascus with revulsion.
This type of indiscriminate killing of human beings by gas is what our forefathers fought against in the Second World War.
Their legacy would be for nothing if we don’t even try to stop such evil.
Closing our eyes and simply hoping for the best is not an option.
But neither should we rush to enter a conflict we do not fully understand.
History has taught us that we must only act, once a coherent plan is in place, with clear objectives, leading to a safer Middle East.
It seems our Government is a long way from setting a developed strategic course of action. We know from brutal experience, that entering battle without a coherent plan will only prolong the bloodshed and lead to the death of our own military personnel. We owe it to our own troops, as well as the people of Syria, to get this right.
Conflicts in the Middle East over the last 15 years have taught us that missile attacks will not lessen the pain of the ordinary Syrian people. All conflicts since the Second World War have shown us that land assaults only lead to brutal wars with little chance of exit and peace.
Before we consider support for a UK intervention we must first consider the objective.
The Syrian conflict is not a simple matter of good versus evil, it is much more complex than that.
I do not believe for one moment that the removal of President Assad will lead to a peaceful Syria for its people. I am not remotely satisfied that those coming behind an Assad regime would be one iota better.
The rebels are by no means the good guys. They have been as indiscriminate in brutalising the people of Syria as President Assad. Therefore a regime change is not the answer.
The costs of any military intervention will undoubtedly be far reaching.
In response, President Assad may well be forced to turn his Russian acquired military arsenal on Israel.
Such action would have the force of escalating this war into a major international incident, destabilising the entirety of the Middle East. Today is the day for caution, not bravado.
What then should be done?
Firstly, the UN chemical weapons inspectors must be allowed to complete their work. If the international community have placed UN inspectors inside the country they must be allowed to report to the Security Council to allow for a proper decision-making process to take place. Circumvention of international law rarely leads to a peaceful outcome.
Secondly, we must make every effort to contain the conflict and do all that is necessary to make sure President Assad is not afforded the political cover he needs to launch attacks outside the Syrian border. Hezbollah’s support for Assad should not be taken lightly.
Thirdly, in containing the conflict it is paramount that our government gives aid to the refugees. The people of Syria need food more than they need airstrikes. Refugees are flooding into Turkey and Jordan: they need our support.
Fourthly, British and American intelligence would be better placed working through the existing networks of allies to destroy chemical weapons on the ground and prevent them getting into the wrong hands, which could ultimately lead to catastrophe on these shores.
Ultimately with a coherent and targeted plan, airstrikes on military and logistical targets could be justified to deplete or destroy Assad’s ability to attack his own people but there should be no boots on the ground.
If this force is considered, it should only be when a legal, coherent and time-limited military strategy, with clear and achievable objectives, is presented to Parliament
Until then, we must work to limit the human cost rather than escalate the bloodshed.
We must also send a clear message to those involved in the use of chemical weapons that they will be brought before an international court for their actions.
• From next week Ian Paisley will return to his normal Friday column