This Opinion is written by Matthew D’Ancona and is published on The Guardian. 

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Conscience has become the mayfly of our era: here today, gone tomorrow. For the moment, the world is transfixed by the horrific images from Douma, near the Syrian capital, Damascus. Dozens have died, and hundreds lie injured after what was quite clearly a chemical weapon attack.

Dead children, their mouths flecked with foam, chide us through our screens. Condemnation, calls for action, a global spasm of what Martin Amis calls “species shame”: the pattern of response to the long Syrian catastrophe has become almost ritualised.

It was no different after the Assad regime’s chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013; or when the image of Alan Kurdi, the drowned three-year-old refugee, became a symbol of shame in 2015; or the following year, as a similar status was accorded to the picture of Omran Daqneesh, a young boy pulled from the rubble of Aleppo, covered in blood and dust; or last April, when President Trump, supposedly traumatised by footage of the horror wrought by the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhun, fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shayrat airfield in western Syria.

Matthew D’Ancona’s article on The Guardian can be read herethe_guardian_logo

Matthew d’Ancona writes a weekly column for the Guardian. He was previously editor of the Spectator and also writes for the Evening Standard and GQ. He was the Sunday Telegraph’s political columnist for 19 years. He is a visiting research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, author of several books including In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition, and chairman of the thinktank Bright Blue.