Natalie Nougayrède

    is a French journalist based in London. In 2014 she joined The Guardian’s senior editorial team and has since served as the newspaper’s columnist, leader writer and foreign affairs commentator. From 2013 to 2014 she was the executive editor and managing editor of Le Monde, helping to consolidate its position as the biggest information website in France and widening its global audience. She was the first woman to head the influential French national daily, having previously won the Prix de la Presse Diplomatique and the Albert Londres awards for her coverage of the conflict in Chechnya and the Beslan school attack. She had also worked for the daily Libération, and served as the paper’s correspondent in Czechoslovakia. “Yes, it’s true western governments criticise Russia and Bashar al-Assad. It’s also true that at the UN, diplomats have compared Aleppo to Guernica and Srebrenica. But do official statements make any show of public anger redundant? Aren’t basic human values worth standing up for in the face of atrocities – if only to show solidarity? Or could it be that we are wallowing in an ocean of “post-truth” politics, where Russian and Syrian government propaganda has made us doubt they are breaking international law? Have we started to believe carpet-bombing can be understood as anti-terrorism? Have we started thinking it would be best for Aleppo to be captured swiftly? There’s a useful quote from Tacitus when that kind of logic sets in: ‘ And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.’ To understand what’s happening in Aleppo, it’s worth reading about Grozny in the winter of 1999-2000. This is the operation Russian forces are drawing on as they carry out their air offensive on eastern Aleppo. Like other journalists who covered that war in the Caucasus, I see clear parallels. Moscow’s strategy to flush out up to 7,000 Chechen rebels from Grozny, once a city of 250,000 inhabitants, was to pound the whole place into oblivion. Videos and pictures of Grozny in 2000 are available online – take a look. This is a war of total eradication that bears no resemblance to any western intervention.”