Letters: Isis - time for the gloves to come off

These letters appear in the February 6 edition of The Independent

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With the release of the latest spectacle of sophisticated savagery from the hi-tech studios of Isis, the West has to take its gloves off. Hand-wringing and solemn words of condemnation are not enough. All options should now be mobilised to eradicate this pestilence.

Lethal chemicals and even, as a last resort, tactical nuclear weapons, should all be considered as legitimate means of exterminating an enemy whose barbarities have stripped it of any right to be protected by the internationally recognised restraints imposed upon modern nations at war.

Jordan has swiftly responded to the bestial images by executing two terrorists in its custody, and Western nations should take their cue. Jihadists who fall into their hands should be shown no mercy and receive the same “justice” that the fiends of Isis mete out to their victims. The European Convention and the UN Charter should not apply to them. 

If it had been an Israeli pilot who had been burned alive by Isis, Raqqa, the Isis “capital”, would now be a heap of smoking rubble. For the sake of decent humanity and the values which we cherish and hold sacred, the West must now act with the same merciless determination to extirpate a malignant scourge which threatens us all.

And instead of infantile bickering with Putin, the EU and Nato should be looking for Russian support in the liquidation  of jihadism. 

Adrian Marlowe
The Hague


No regime predicated on violence has ever gone the distance, the most obvious example being Hitler’s Third Reich, which finally collapsed under the weight of its own savagery. There are many others.

What Isis fails to grasp is that its dystopian vision is not a place where any rational person would wish to live, so who will live there? This caliphate would be a loosely defined geographical area peopled by homicidal maniacs whose raison d’être is carnage.

Add to this the moral and intellectual vacuum these people inhabit, and it is obvious that the seeds of a nation could never hope to flourish. Who sets fire to another human being to gain attention?

One senses that with this latest act, a tipping point has finally been reached. The Arab nations and wider Muslim world recognise what this is: not jihad, not devout rejection of Western values, not ascetic fundamentalism in the name of Islam, but simply criminality and adventure without limits or borders. And the world in 2015 is not going to tolerate that.

Mike Galvin
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire


I agree that Europe and America should ally themselves with the Damascus regime to defeat Isis (letter, 3 February).  The Assad regime is not all bad. It is tolerant towards Christians and minorities. But there are formidable reasons for the West not to take that step.

First, there is the attitude of Sunni fundamentalism issuing from Saudi Arabia, which opposes Damascus for the absurd reason of “religious heresy”. The West is always keen to appease the Saudis, as was seen in the recent flag-lowering episode.

Second, there is the attitude of Israel and its supporters, which oppose Damascus since Syria is a front-line (and steadfast) state opposing Israeli occupation and expansion. Syria is also allied with Iran, and the Tehran regime stirs the irrational hatred of the right both in the region and in Washington.

Unless the West can learn to disobey the Saudis, and the Israelis, and dump the remnants of the neo-cons, there is little hope of an alliance which might just crush Isis and end the beheadings.

Christopher Walker
London SW18


Educating our future MPs

It is a shame that yet again the choice of educational provision parents make for their children becomes a political football, in this case about politics itself (“General election will see no increase in proportion  of state-educated MPs”,  5 February).

Of course, it is important that politicians can empathise with people from all backgrounds, but they also need a passion for the political process, something which many independent schools do particularly well. As William Hague and many others have demonstrated, there is little prejudice or “glass ceiling” preventing state-educated adults from entering the political fray – but they have to want to do it.

Also, this report ignores the fact that many children only attended independent schools through scholarships and bursaries – myself included – and the independent sector strives to make our education more affordable for those aspirational parents who do not have the means to pay.

I know that some of my scholars from very humble economic backgrounds, but with passion and dedication, are the most likely to shape our future country and world through the political process.

Alex Osiatynski
Headmaster, Bilton Grange Preparatory School, Rugby, Warwickshire


I agree that Britain needs more MPs educated in the state sector (editorial, 5 February). But if this is to happen state schools need to up their game.

The first requirement is a vigorous programme unashamedly dedicated to identifying the brightest students and encouraging them to apply to the best universities.

The second is a school that values debate and trains its pupils to enter and win debating competitions.

The third is teachers prepared to organise mock council, European and general elections and invite local candidates of all persuasions to speak in assemblies and take part in mock election debates.

And finally, schools should encourage their children to participate in extra-curricular trips and visits and voluntary work, so that they can better understand the nature of the society they will one day represent.

Only by producing articulate, well-educated and well-informed students will state schools be able to redress the balance with the private sector.

Stan Labovitch


Why isn’t it Sir Ken Dodd?

Congratulations to the extraordinary 87-year-old Ken Dodd, who has been named “Oldie of the Year”, an award which he can add to his many others including the British Comedy Society’s honour “Living Legend”.

Ken Dodd has been entertaining audiences for more than 50 years, and, at an age when most of his peers are ensconced in nursing homes, he continues to tour the country playing to crowded theatres. His act is family-friendly, with no foul language, and most fans could repeat it verbatim. He is a cherished icon.

Why then does the Establishment refuse to award him a knighthood? This is despite many petitions and innumerable letters of support. The only response from the Cabinet Office is that “Mr Dodd’s case continues to be carefully considered”.

Mike Stroud


Secular abattoirs are cruel too

A great deal has been made of the fact that the slaughterhouse featured in Animal Aid’s latest undercover investigation was a non-stun, halal operation. However, the cruelty we exposed is by no means limited to businesses conducting religious slaughter.

Prior to our latest investigation, Animal Aid filmed inside nine randomly selected abattoirs, all of which pre-stunned animals for slaughter. In eight of them we also found vicious and illegal abuse taking place, including animals being tortured with stunning equipment.

Animal Aid is opposed to bigotry and racism and our complaint with the findings at Bowood Lamb has always been one of animal cruelty, which is rife in all sectors of the slaughter industry. The only way to ensure your food has not suffered before arriving on your plate is to adopt a completely animal-free diet.

Ben Martin
Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent


There is no great revelation in the news that animals suffer physical and emotional stress in abattoirs. In a supposedly civilised country in the year 2015 the real story is that successive governments have failed to secure an acceptable level of animal welfare in spite of the repeated propaganda message to the contrary delivered by politicians.

This Tory-led government has animal welfare at the bottom of its agenda, in spite of manifesto promises. Farm animals suffer miserable lives, increasingly forced into intensive systems, transported many miles in fear and discomfort to meet their fate behind closed doors in abattoirs where this government refuses to make CCTV cameras mandatory.

Jill Deane
Staveley, Cumbria


Inquiries stuck at the start and the finish

There are 64 million people in the UK, and not a single one of us is judged competent to head an inquiry into child abuse.

Peter Brooker
West Wickham, Kent


A member of the Chilcot inquiry has died before the report could be completed and published. This is a fate that may befall many of us.

Brian G Mitchell