Letters: Backing our own deadly enemies in Syria

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 29 August, 2013

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I don't understand British foreign policy.

Assad is a tyrant who poses a local threat to Syrian people. However, his government provides some protection to religious minorities, women and secularists, and poses little threat to Britain.

The Islamist-dominated forces attacking Assad reject democracy as well as equal rights for religious minorities, women and secularists – and because they support the idea of a caliphate, pose a serious threat to other nations, including Britain.

On this basis, why does our Government support jihadis and risk the lives of Syrian and British innocents?

Jean Calder, Brighton

 

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (Albert Einstein).

When Blair took the country to war in Iraq it resulted in the Labour Party haemorrhaging paid-up members. Given polling results on bombing Syria, has it not occurred to the current hierarchy that if Miliband leads his members into the division lobby shoulder to shoulder with the Con/Dems, the same thing will happen?

Ian Lowery, Watford

 

Responding to lethal violence with lethal violence doesn't become morally right just by using a different type of weapon. The victims will be just as dead. But apart from the immediate hypocrisy, and apart from the disastrous ongoing consequences (nothing learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan?), we simply cannot afford it.

We have record numbers of children living in poverty, we can't provide basic care for our disabled, frail and sick, and we face further huge cuts to public services. The last thing we should be doing is committing money and resources to a Sunni-Shia bloodbath overseas.

Ray Chandler, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

 

The US and the UK are only now considering an intervention in the Syrian conflict because it seems likely that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons – this after two years of the slaughter of men, women and children by every other means?

The message to the Syrian people and the rest of the world seems to be that we don't mind if you are killed or maimed by a brutal regime provided it is done in the correct way.

Bob Morgan, Thatcham, West Berkshire

 

To all those protesting against the proposed military action against Syria: please remember the importance to the British economy of the UK arms industry.

Our weapons manufacturers need wars. The highly sophisticated technology involved in modern armaments cannot be properly trialled nowadays on cardboard cutouts of Second World War German soldiers on Salisbury plain.

There is no substitute for a real live enemy, particularly if they are Muslims or Arabs, to test the effectiveness of our latest military devices.

Just remember what the Falklands war did for Exocet sales for the French arms industry.

Jonathan Smith, London W3

 

Before we get too steamed up about our boys and their Tomahawks, does anyone know what the Russian Mediterranean squadron is up to?

Frank Donald, Edinburgh

 

The dilemmas working parents face

Virginia Ironside (20 August) advises that "it would be madness" for a woman to accept a new job just after the arrival of her new baby because "having a baby is a job" and the child's speech will be impaired if its mother isn't available to babble "There's a cow, moo, moo" to it ad infinitum.

This reminded me of my first day back from maternity leave, when the then chairman of the FTSE 250 company for which I work advised me earnestly that if I didn't get back home forthwith, my baby would inevitably become a drug addict.

Ten years later, I am relieved to report that my son and his younger brother are happy, well-adjusted children who are showing no signs of going off the rails. The company is making steady, purposeful progress into the 21st century, the chairman having long since retired.

I wonder if it isn't time for Virginia Ironside to follow his example: "advice" which so crassly re-enforces archaic gender stereotypes does a disservice to all your readers.

Kate Gray, Ashtead, Surrey

 

It does not seem to me that the investment banker's wife who wrote the article "A break from it all – except the BlackBerry" (27 August) has too hard a time of it.

As it appears unlikely that she has a career of her own, I can only presume that she has enjoyed the sort of lifestyle many dream of at her husband's expense. The choice was hers.

However, I am very sorry for their children; a disengaged, workaholic father hardly provides a good or stable childhood, and the daughter, who unbelievably was not upset by her father's half-hearted involvement in her graduation, has already moved away.

Helen Huckvale, Chelmsford, Essex

Propaganda for a mass murderer

Yet again there has been article in The Independent (22 August) about Anders Breivik and the aftermath of his appalling rampage in which 77 innocent people were murdered. As usual there was one of his photographs; this time he is wearing his diving suit and aiming an automatic weapon at the camera.

In the last article there was a picture of him giving his ludicrous self-designed salute. How do the survivors of this event feel about having their pictures and feelings displayed in the same article?

The photographs of Mr Breivik are self-aggrandising propaganda. We all know what he looks like. Using these images is a feed to the ego of an evil man who has never expressed any regret. They are also likely to be seen by his followers, if he has any, as a way of keeping his media presence going.

I am not saying that his action should be forgotten; it needs to be remembered, and we need to ensure that it can never happen again. But depicting Mr Breivik in the media in the manner I have seen so far is no discouragement to people of a like mind.

Alan Ross, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

Charity, not privatisation

You report on my recent letter to Jeremy Hunt about competition regulations (15 August). Your article suggested that I had lobbied for privatisation.

To be clear, ACEVO does not support "privatisation" of the NHS. We do, however, want more charities to be commissioned by the NHS to deliver better and more citizen-focused services. This requires a fair playing field in competition, which is what the new regulations sought to achieve.

We do not call for private profit-making companies to be commissioned, as charities and social enterprises will often compete with the private sector. Our aim is to support the role of charity delivery, promoting more choice in the NHS, for example by the UK's 220 hospices taking a bigger role in end-of-life care.

ACEVO has consistently argued this case with both the current and previous governments. Charities are not a mere adjunct to commerce, and greater charity provision does not equal privatisation.

Sir Stephen Bubb, CEO, The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, London N1

Power and money doom our badgers

This Government has commenced the badger cull, against all the scientific information, the independent trials, the Krebs report, internationally recognised scientists and even the many farmers who condemn the cull. This together with the 273,000 of the public who have signed a petition deploying this utterly appalling slaughter.

I sincerely hope that when it comes to the general election people will remember that this government will do whatever it chooses irrespective of the evidence. It just confirms that with power and money you can ride over everyone and anything.

Margaret Barnicle, Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire

 

I am extremely upset by the Government's decision to cull badgers to protect dairy herds from TB. Why destroy our beautiful native wildlife in this brutal way?

I can't stop the Government, but what I can do is to cease my own consumption of dairy products. After all, in drinking milk, I am colluding in the extermination of badgers.

Frances Perkins, Poole

Music triumphs over injury

As a child I met Douglas Fox, a famous organist and pianist whose right arm was blown off in the First World War ("How music cured the blues", 27 August). He was reportedly depressed about the apparent end of his musical career, until an equally eminent colleague asked him one day to come to Evensong in King's College chapel, where he was the organist.

Afterwards, Douglas is said to have congratulated him, and was then told that his colleague had played the entire service with his right arm strapped to his waist. That was the turning point, and he went on to continue a brilliant career with his left hand.

L Cornish, Cambridge

Cycle lights

With reference to the letters of John Ramsay (17 August) and Peter Rolfe (20 August) bemoaning the frequency of traffic lights over short lengths of road, with the delays that ensue, I suggest that they ditch the car and get a bicycle. That way the lights will simply evaporate. I'll leave your readership to try and work out whether this is the sardonic bitterness of a disgruntled motorist or an expression of the joie de vivre of an anarchic cycling lycra-lout.

Philip Stephenson, Cambridge

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