David Cameron exhorts us not to refer to Isis as Islamic State because this exaggerates its importance, but he goes on to exaggerate its importance far more by claiming that Isis poses “an existential threat to the West”.
There are many people in Britain, let alone across the Middle East, who despise what the American-led Western coalition has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.
They despise the West for supporting and arming oppressive military regimes in countries such as Egypt and Pakistan, or absolute rulers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and elsewhere, including until relatively recently Bashar al-Assad.
Above all, they despise Western indifference to the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza and Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
The anti-terrorist rhetoric being employed by Western political leaders, especially in the aftermath of the barbaric attack in Tunisia, is playing right into the hands of the terrorists.
Nothing could be more calculated to rally people who despise what the West is still doing across the Middle East to the extremist Islamic cause.
Using the language of war, the “fight against Isis”, “defeating terrorism” and a “full spectrum [?] response” – presumably the latter means the most violent military response the West is prepared to indulge in, is exactly what Isis and other extremists need.
Telling people who want to see Western military interference in the Middle East ended that the fight against Isis is “the struggle of our generation” is tantamount to urging Muslim opponents of the West, in this country and abroad, to join or support Isis.
It is the act of an agent provocateur.
Andrew Grice (30 June) reports David Cameron as having raised the possibility of air strikes on Syria. Wouldn’t it be best if the Chilcot report were published first?
Robert Verkaik (report, 1 July) says armed police and soldiers are a very reassuring presence on British streets. Really? I don’t find this so – and I look nothing like Jean Charles de Menezes. However, when he says “the macho language and get-tough policies are counterproductive”, I agree: how many young people might be driven into the arms of Isis by the sight of armed police and soldiers on our streets?
The Prime Minister says Isis represents an “existential threat”. What does he mean? Are we about to be attacked by jihadists armed with copies of Being and Nothingness?
Headley Down, Hampshire
Some people do desperately want HS2
I presume Jim Bowman (letter, 1 July) is talking about HS2 when he refers to “a railway no one needs”. I notice his address is South Harrow. If he’d given his address as Manchester or Glasgow, it would have been more significant.
Virgin Trains West Coast has recently stated that the numbers using its services have grown from 14 million journeys a year in 1997 to 34.5 million last year and are still growing at about 1.75 million a year.
It is converting first-class carriages to standard class, and has stated that the service frequency to Glasgow is going to increase to half-hourly.
Perhaps Mr Bowman didn’t hear the reports as to why Network Rail is getting behind on projects such as upgrading the Great Western main line – because of having to do the work in short time slots and at the same time run more trains than ever.
The projects that are on time or early and on-budget are the ones such as the new junctions at Norton Bridge which don’t disrupt the existing railway.
For those of us using the existing West Coast route trains, HS2 cannot come soon enough: a project that doesn’t disrupt the existing railway.
“A railway no one needs” is an idea common to those who don’t use the existing train service and/or aren’t bothered about more HGVs on the roads.
Ian K Watson
The DPP doesn’t seem to understand sex
I support Julia Hartley-Brewer (30 June) in suggesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, should no longer remain in her job.
Ms Saunders seems to assume that men demand sex and women consent under duress. The reality is that many women enjoy sex and, in some cases, initiate proceedings. What is a man supposed to do? “I am sorry, dear, but I am going to have to breathalyse you to ensure you are capable of making this request.”
If a woman is so drunk she is incapable of consenting, she could claim rape; but if she consents, she cannot claim rape just because she regrets in the morning what happened the night before.
Julia Hartley-Brewer (30 June) makes a valid point: to equate drunken sex with rape is to cheapen the seriousness and evil of rape. But more worrying, as she writes, is the innocent men who may be prosecuted for the “crime” of drunken sex with a regretful woman. To ruin a man’s life for such an innocent error is wrong.
Sutton, Greater London
Where do the airport arbiters live?
Could Sir Howard Davies and members of his Airport Commission advise on how many of them live under the Heathrow flightpath as it is now – and as it will be after the runway is built?
Uber wins against a black cab
On arrival in London on Saturday I used a black cab to travel from Paddington station to Islington. The driver sat in his cab while my wife and I loaded our luggage into the seating compartment. On Monday we used an Uber cab for the return journey, waiting only three minutes for the cab to collect us. The driver was charming and helpful, getting out of his vehicle to load our luggage in the boot and unloading it on arrival.
Both drivers took the same route. The black cab was £17.80 and the Uber cab was £11.01. I am happy for someone to persuade me that the black cab added £6.79 of extra value to my journey.
Simply asking for trouble
We British do seem to be a trusting lot, but way too trusting. This week I saw TV news reports interviewing travellers to Greece, who happily discussed the relatively large amounts of cash they were arriving with to counter the banking problems there – one stop short of adorning their body with a big sign stating: “Rob me, I’m loaded with cash.”
On the same day we had a laudable exercise in London by our police and security services to see how they would deal with a “marauding” terrorist attack.
Yet, for some reason, as much as this might be good television and reassuring for the public, it is, again, handing on a plate to those with bad intentions information they would find useful, as the tactics used were on full display to everyone. Sometimes silence is the best policy.
South Cockerington, Lincolnshire
Greece: ignore the prophets of doom
Listening to all the pundits predicting dire consequences for Greece if it leaves the euro, I recall Black Wednesday, when the UK left the ERM, and the pundits also predicted dire consequences. They were wrong then and are probably wrong now.
Vicarious violence disguised as art
I wish the Royal Opera House would close down the new production of Guillaume Tell which contains a scene in which a woman is stripped naked and sexually abused by men.
This vicarious scene of violence against a woman has been directed by a man, Damiano Michielletto. It is all the more sickening because he is trying to cloak it in the guise of art and a concern for the fate of many women in wars.
Anyone who goes to this opera now, knowing what is being portrayed, is participating in an act of violence.
Auckland, New Zealand
I was lucky enough to see the final dress rehearsal of Guillaume Tell. There were a few boos when soldiers roughly molested and stripped a young woman, but when a venerable old man was shot dead, there was not a murmur.
I’m not in the least surprised at the display of nudity in the new Guillaume Tell and can’t understand why the audience was upset. Everybody knows that Rossini had exactly that in mind when he wrote it.
The best tune from the overture is easily recalled as “Bum-titty, bum-titty, bum, bum, bum, Bum-titty, bum-titty, bum, bum, bum”.