IT is likely to become one of the defining images of the decade.
A photograph that will, in years to come, be used to symbolise the moment when the world woke up from its slumber
For until this point, have we not all - individuals and Governments alike - been sleepwalking through what is, in effect one of the worst refugee crises since World War Two?
The haunting sight of the little boy’s lifeless body being carried off a Turkish beach (we publish this, without apology, on page nine of our newspaper today) has left David Cameron appearing weak, and lacking compassion, when he responds to his growing number of critics, headed by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, by saying that the crisis will not be reconciled by Europe – and Britain for that matter – accepting “more and more refugees”.
Wearing a red top and blue trainers, the boy, aged three, was washed up just yards from where the remains of his older brother were found – the boys, believed to be Syrian, drowned with their mother as they, like tens of thousands of other families, tried to flee a brutal civil war in their homeland and begin a peaceful new life in Europe.
They’re the latest victims of a wider conflict, and humanitarian crisis, which could prompt the Government to seek a Parliamentary mandate to launch airstrikes against Syria opnce the Labour leadership contest is over.
Surely the deployment of the Armed Forces is not the answer after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
As the Bishop of Leeds pointed out so bluntly: “That is where it gets embarrassing – many of the problems have arisen because of western military intervention in places that have now collapsed into violence.”
In this regard, Britian has a moral duty to offer the hand of hope to the refugees.
As for the future, the need for a UK foreign policy determined by Britain’s role in the world, rather than the narrow views of Eurosceptics, has never been greater.
And, until Mr Cameron is clear on his Government’s strategy, he will be accused of standing idly by as more young innocents are swept to their deaths. In short, the PM needs to be dictating events before he is dictated to by others.