<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & online postings (22 November 2009)

The war in Afghanistan has always been incomprehensible except in terms of a craven subservience to the most belligerent elements in the US government and military ("Not in our name" 15 November).

Why do we follow the lead of this declining power whose hubris President Barack Obama has yet, in his actions, to refute? Why is Britain, with its foreign wars, the second most belligerent state on the planet? Why are we one of the world's largest exporters of arms? Do our politicians and generals never learn from experience? This is the fourth war Britain has fought in Afghanistan in the past 170 years.

Jim McCluskey

Twickenham, Middlesex

Jean Bartleet says that we should not be in Afghanistan, and should "follow our Canadian friends" (Letters, 15 November). To date, at least 133 Canadians have died in Afghanistan, and troops are still there. It was to Iraq that Canada refused to follow the US: the UN had declared the war illegal.

Alison Campbell


The vision the Taliban have for society in an area covering parts of what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan is certainly not mine, but I can understand why they resist foreign occupation ("Obama is haunted by Gorbachev's ghost" 15 November). Wouldn't we do the same if a foreign army invaded the UK, for whatever reason?

Keith Flett

London N17

The Government tells us we cannot withdraw our troops until the war has been won. Anyone who has been in the tribal areas and met the Afghan people would know that they will never accept a foreign presence in their country and that they will never surrender. Unfortunately we rarely hear about how many civilians are dying because of this conflict.

Edward Donohue


It makes one want to weep to see our politicians resigned to the sad inevitability that our troops have to be there in order to keep the streets of Britain safe.

Ian Fraser

Baltimore, Co Cork

As a retired Senior Prison Officer with over 25 years' service I agree completely with Juliet Lyon ("Our prison-building binge is a badge of shame", 15 November).

Many of those who work in our overcrowded penal institutions know that they are not fit for purpose and that until those with mental health problems are given the treatment and help that they need in the community (with early intervention a priority) instead of sending them to prisons which cannot meet their needs, then sadly for many, prison does not work.

Prisons should be for those who choose to commit crime and not for those whose crimes are the result of societies failure to treat them when they are ill. Mental illness is just that: an illness just like any other medical complaint.

Philip Poulton

posted online

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is vital to help cut greenhouse gas emissions ("Will carbon dioxide give Miliband the slip?", 15 November). China, India, Poland and other countries are planning to build hundreds more coal-fired power stations over the next few decades. If they do this without CCS, it will have an appalling impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and therefore global temperatures. We need to make CCS effective as quickly as possible.

Richard Mountford

Hildenborough, Kent

David Cameron's pledge that an incoming Tory administration would introduce a Sovereignty Bill is at best misguided, and at worst deceptive. EU law already has primacy over national law, a position established over 40 years ago. The Tories knew this when they signed up the UK to what was then the EEC in 1973, Mrs Thatcher knew it when she signed the Single European Act, and Mr Cameron's proposed Sovereignty Bill is not worth the paper it would be written on.

Alex Orr


I wonder if Mark Leftly would encourage the remaining European Jewry to move on after the Holocaust if Germany, like Turkey today, denied responsibility for its crimes ("Armenia's latest struggle...", 15 November)? How does Mr Leftly suggest we move on when Turkey blackmails foreign governments, suppresses freedom of speech and prosecutes its own nationals for daring to question the denial of the Armenian genocide?

Edgar Danielyan

via email

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020-7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/November/22