Today in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister will explain her decision to authorise airstrikes against Syria alongside France and the United States.

For many, Theresa May’s statement comes too late. Yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she “could easily” have recalled Parliament or delayed her decision until MPs had time to deliberate. The SNP more or less agrees.

They, of course, have a point, although in constitutional terms a Prime Minister is perfectly within their rights to invoke the Royal prerogative, just as the President of the United States isn’t compelled to consult Congress ahead of certain military action.

READ MORE: Parliament not prime ministers should approve military strikes, say Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon

What’s under question, therefore, is recent precedent. On Saturday, the former first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond tweeted that one of the “precious few gains” from the Iraq “nightmare” was “to establish the practice of parliamentary authority before military action”.

By not recalling Parliament over the past week, he added, Mrs May had “junked” that convention and also made UK participation in future conflicts “much more likely”, including action “without strategy, coherence or proper evaluation of [the] consequences”.

The implication of Salmond’s tweets was that he would accept strikes backed up by a majority vote in the House of Commons. This, I think, is disingenuous, for the Iraq “nightmare” he cited was supported by both the UK and Scottish parliaments, yet neither Salmond nor his party felt compelled to fall into line as a result. Wielding that line of argument now, therefore, smacks of a cop out.

READ MORE: Parliament not prime ministers should approve military strikes, say Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon

Elsewhere, the SNP’s defence spokesman, Stewart McDonald, said UK forces were engaged in “gesture bombing”, and again he had a point. As Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on the BBC yesterday morning, the airstrikes were not about regime change or altering the course of Syria’s civil war but saying “enough is enough” at the use of chemical weapons.

The Foreign Secretary, however, hoped joint military action with the US and France would act as a deterrent to more “barbaric” chemical attacks. Writing on Twitter, meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon called them “sickening”, but warned that airstrikes could lead to “dangerous escalation” of events on the ground.

That might be so, and to be fair, the SNP has been consistent in its critique of military action in Syria. As the First Minister also tweeted, airstrikes had “not resolved [the] situation in Syria so far”, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll do so now. Stewart McDonald has also shown consistency in response, certainly in contrast to the relative silence of Labour frontbenchers.

At the same time, I wonder how long the SNP’s line can hold. Airstrikes might not end the civil war (although no-one is really arguing they will), but targeting infrastructure associated with Syria’s (alleged) chemical weapons programme seems likely to reduce the likelihood of another “sickening” attack, and is therefore surely a reasonable aim.

There’s also the question of what Sturgeon et al propose as an alternative course of action, which to date has consisted of the usual homilies about seeking a diplomatic solution or, in its current guise, an “international strategy for peace”.

READ MORE: Parliament not prime ministers should approve military strikes, say Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon

Such a strategy could only emerge via the United Nations which, as recent events have demonstrated, is a quixotic aspiration. The US, UK and France recently circulated a draft resolution calling for an independent investigation into Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, but similar plans have been vetoed by Russia before, and surely will be again.

Speaking yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn said he could only “countenance” airstrikes in Syria, either as Leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister, if it had UN backing. Pushing as to the likelihood of that happening, the Labour leader resorted to waffle: “If we could get to a process in the UN where you get to a ceasefire, you get to a political solution, you then may well get to a situation where there could be a UN force established to enforce that ceasefire.”

The First Minister also implied US involvement had “more to do with a macho strongman stand-off” between presidents Trump and Putin than “with really delivering peace in Syria”. Now no-one doubts the alpha-male credentials of both leaders, but that seems a rather reductive analysis. President Obama, who also wanted to act, was hardly a macho strongman, and neither is President Macron, who was conveniently left out of the SNP leader’s analysis.

I’ve been in the United States for the past week and have listened as Trump’s statements regarding airstrikes fluctuated somewhat, and it was clear his anxiety not to be branded a hypocrite for pulling back Obama-style played a part in his reasoning (such as it is). But just because the current occupant of the Oval Office is self-evidently an egotist doesn’t make him wrong on every occasion.

In fact, Democrats in the US have taken a similar line to Labour and the SNP in the UK, complaining that their commander-in-chief lacks a broader strategy for ending the Syrian civil war. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was relatively unusual in condemning Friday’s military strikes as “illegal and unauthorised”.

READ MORE: Parliament not prime ministers should approve military strikes, say Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon

Thus, the dividing lines on both sides of the Atlantic are similar, neither completely for or against some sort of military response in a given context. And if this column has taken rather a long time to reach a conclusion, it’s because I’m ambivalent too; I can see merit in both positions although, if pushed, I’d paraphrase the Prince of Wales at an abandoned South Wales coal mine: “Something must be done.”

That, of course, is a deliberate vague sentiment. Airstrikes are certainly “something”, and even if they don’t work – a mere “gesture” if you will – I can’t help feeling it’s better than nothing, certainly equally vague plans for global peace.