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Tuesday 3 May 2011
Letters: Osama bin Laden
The death of Osama bin Laden has achieved the original aim of the invasion of Afghanistan, namely to get the man who carried out the worst terror attack in history. Now that aim has been achieved after nearly 10 years, there is no more need to be in Afghanistan. A total withdrawal of troops from that country should now take place immediately.
Bin Laden could and should have been captured or killed in the early days of the Afghan war but for the incompetence and hubris of George Bush and Tony Blair. They decided to divert all resources into invading Iraq.
Bin Laden's death however will not end the threat of Islamic terrorism. The al-Qa'ida ideology has spread across the globe and is especially prevalent in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and most notably Saudi Arabia, the number one funder of terrorism across the world.
Bin Laden's death will be hyped by the US government as a propaganda coup, but in reality he had been neutralised for most of the last decade. He could not use the phone or internet. Terrorism can only be defeated when the bombing of civilians comes to an end and western support for dictators ceases.
Once again the US administration makes the mistake of trying to solve terrorism by treating its symptoms, not its true cause, which is a failed US foreign policy in the Middle East.
If the US administration was to support a Palestinian homeland, stop supporting Israeli terrorism, close Guantánamo, stop invading and occupying Muslim nations, and stop thwarting UN efforts to deal with these issues, the threat of terrorism would be neutralised. The killing of Osama bin Laden represents yet another in a series of extraordinary mistakes by the US administration which can only undermine efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism.
Dr Rory E Morty
The death of Osama bin Laden, who was no longer an operational commander and was apparently almost isolated in his hideout, would have done little to decrease terrorist activity even if it had been from natural causes. Coming as it did at the hands of American special forces operating in Pakistan, and accompanied by vainglorious boasting and gloating, it is likely to prove a public relations disaster in many areas of the world.
Revenge is never a good idea. Through this rash act the USA has greatly damaged its own interests, and probably ours too.
The killing of Osama bin Laden is a pyrrhic victory for America and its allies. The world has moved on since 9/11 as the tahrir of last February has given us a new perspective of what may yet come in lands that remain under our tutelage.
The dark heart of Arabia, from where Osama sprang, however, remains intact. The House of Saud will remain for the foreseeable future the abode of the terrorism that frightens us so much. There is no remedy in sight.
M A Qavi
How stupid do Western media outlets think the public is to buy the choreographed story about the death of Osama bin Laden? Without knowing what has actually happened, we can be sure that the US intelligence community want to be as confident as possible that nobody can check their story, or identify the person they claim to have "buried at sea". Indeed, we can question whether anything has been "buried" at all.
Dr Rory Ridley-Duff
David Cameron says that we should celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden. I disagree. To assassinate Bin Laden, rather than capture and prosecute him is surely a war crime. The same is true of the attempted assassination of Gadaffi, which resulted in the death of his grandchildren and son.
This was not 'just a wedding'
Several times I have heard the comment, "It's just a wedding." It is so much more than that. It was an occasion that brought people together from all over the world in celebration. It was a delight. It has been quite some time since so many happy and excited smiling faces have been seen.
The news, usually full of sadness, death and despair, gave us excitement and hope. We know that the problems have not gone away – they were there before, and they will be there afterwards – but at least we can see that people do care about each other, they can come together in happiness as well as sorrow.
Quite often national pride is reserved for sporting occasions. How nice to know that we can be proud of our country and the Royal Family. I wish all the very best to our new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And that dress was fantastic.
East Grinstead in West Sussex.
As people face a desperately bleak future of redundancy, wage cuts, house repossessions and homelessness, as schools and Sure Start centres are rationed and closed, as libraries shut, as coast guards and fire stations are axed and as up to half a million local authority and NHS workers face the sack, last Friday the country was treated to a shameless exposition of excess and greed.
The royals, their establishment pals and the super-rich really rubbed it in the nation's face with a wedding that cost in excess of £55m. The nation's subjects who are still not citizens were somehow supposed to rejoice and enjoy this disgusting display of unearned power and wealth.
The Queen and Prince Charles would, of course, have the use of it whenever they wished, but I doubt that would amount to more than a few weeks in the year. The rest of the time it would sail the world acting as a travelling embassy.
Foreign VIPs would be invited to experience the latest in British technology and at the same time have the opportunity to sit in a chair used by the Queen. No other country has this USP.
Mary Ann Sieghart (2 May) says that Prince Charles, if he were a commoner, would probably have founded his own political party by now. Possibly, but I think it more likely that he would be concentrating on holding down a proper job. This would have the additional benefit of keeping the poor old fellow from parading his scientifically illiterate and embarrassing notions in public.
Defy Tory plot to overturn AV vote
Not content with their campaign of lies to defend an indefensible first-past-the-post system, the No to AV campaign are now planning to reverse in Parliament a Yes vote next Thursday ("Tories plot to overturn referendum results", 29 April)
Let the forces of conservatism be under no illusion: the forces of reform in British politics are very angry and will fight with the gloves off to stop such a move to block a democratic decision by the British people.
There are local campaigns like Fair Votes for Dorset who've been working hard to achieve a Yes vote before the national Fairer Votes Campaign even started. We're not prepared to sit idly by while these arrogant Tories and their Labour dinosaur allies cynically seek to manipulate an unrepresentative parliamentary system.
We're looking to The Independent's readers to have the good sense to help ensure a resounding "Yes" vote on Thursday, which these reactionaries can't possibly manipulate away.
Chair, Fair Votes For Dorset
While the vast majority of the 17 Tory MSPs in the last Scottish Parliament were elected by a system of proportional representation, in last year's general election only one Tory was returned from Scotland because the first-past-the-post system rendered the Tory votes in the other 58 constituencies worthless.
In effect David Cameron's plea for people to vote against AV is a kick in the teeth to his supporters in Scotland; telling them that it is best for the Party for them to be virtually without representation at Westminster so that he can disenfranchise the millions of voters of other parties in the English shires.
More hypocrisy than democracy.
Crieff, Perth & Kinross
As the time approaches for the country to decide "Yes" or "No" for AV, may I ask opponents of the proposed change to our voting system one simple question: in what other areas of our lives would we willingly reject an opportunity of being able to say, "Very well, if I can't have this as my first preference, then I'll choose that instead"?
Hedon, East Yorkshire
Based on the figures from the University of Essex (report, 2 May), under AV both Labour and Tories would lose seats and Lib Dems would gain. The Lib Dems would then be in a better position to form a coalition with the Tories, without a majority, and we would then be faced with a permanent effectively Tory government.
R E Hooper
Stratford on Avon
Salmon across the world
After an afternoon's gardening, I sat down with a cup of tea to read the Viewspaper (20 April). The article "There's trouble upstream" informed me that Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, had signed a trade deal with China to sell them Scottish farmed salmon over the next few years.
A little later I started preparing the evening meal, which happened to be salmon with thyme and lemon, purchased from Sainbury's (special half-price offer). The label told me that the fish had been "caught in the Pacific Ocean and packed in China" for a seafood company based in Glasgow.
Does this make sense? It seems like a very large waste of travel miles. Now I shall not feel so guilty about the accompanying green beans airlifted from Africa.
London Colney, Hertfordshire
Raise a glass to British beer
In response to Guy Adams's enjoyable ode to British beer (28 April) I feel that I must point out that far from facing an uncertain future, the British pint has never been so strongly supported.
There have never in British brewing history been as many independent brewers thriving as there are today. Small independent brewers across the length and breadth of Britain are churning out wonderfully exciting beers at an incredible rate. Just yesterday, the majestic Otley brewery in Pontypridd held a spectacular celebration of golden ales (with a choice of 20 ales) at their award-winning Bunch of Grapes. We were spoilt for choice yesterday, with many local ale festivals to choose from.
JD Wetherspoon has just opened its 800th pub, and this is a chain that is built on selling vast quantities of local real ale, with a number of festivals throughout the year. While small local pubs are closing, I suspect that many of these were pubs that had simply got their recipe for success drastically wrong, concentrating on lager and awful "cream flow" keg beers. With the smoking ban, these pubs had little else to offer their limited clientele. Most pubs I visit have never been so busy, selling quality local food to go with quality local ale.
Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
Full marks to Guy Adams for rubbishing the ban on serving beer to the royal wedding guests. Whoever came up with this daft idea (Prince William? More likely some snooty palace official) should reflect on the words of George Borrow: "Good Ale, the true and proper drink of Englishmen. He is not deserving of the name of Englishman who speaketh against ale, that is good ale." (Levengro, 1851) On the same day you published an article about the Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey and the revival of the brewing tradition in other parts of the capital.
Richard Ingrams (30 April) is quite wrong in thinking that it was necessary to apply for Olympic Games tickets via the internet and to pay by credit card. I got my application form from Lloyds TSB, sent it in by post with a cheque enclosed and received an acknowledgment a week later.
You printed a 41-word reaction to Friday's festivities from our Prime Minister which used the same tired adverb three times. Leaving aside his incredibly expensive education, in these incredibly tempestuous times dare we have a leader of such incredibly limited vocabulary?
Perspectives on criticism of Israel
No sympathy for cruel regime s
In her article "Stop Blaming Israel for every grievance in the Middle East" (2 May), Yasmin Alibhai-Brown distances herself from "British and American Zionists", only to realign herself with them in her dubious insinuation that critics of Israel are apologetic for the crimes of others in the Middle East and are at best hypocritical and at worst anti-Semitic.
It is not feasible to campaign against every injustice everywhere. The "anti-Zionists" Alibhai-Brown criticises give priority to issues in which we share responsibility and over which we have leverage. This is obvious for American critics of Israel's current policies, as their government uncritically delivers $2bn-3bn in aid every year. But moreover, as the historian Tony Judt put it, one of the highest goals of Israel is an economic relationship with Europe as a way to set itself apart from the Middle East, of which it does not want to be part culturally, economically or politically.
Far from having sympathy for the cruel and vicious regimes in the Middle East, I would suggest that critics of Israel are moved by the striking transparency of a solution, which does not apply to the other states Alibhai-Brown points to: namely, the two- state solution according to UN resolution 242, which the entire world including every significant player in the region has supported since 1976 except for the United States and Israel, while European states have spinelessly deferred to this obstructionism.
Finally, I would suggest that what draws many to the Palestinian cause is precisely the Israeli abuse of history that Alibhai-Brown describes. But this is a sign of their decency rather than double standards. There is no comparable state abuse of history whereby the most insane and horrendous episode in human history is mobilised not to insist unequivocally on the universal value of human life, but rather as historical credit with which to deny the human rights of others.
University of Amsterdam
What kind of peace does Hamas want?
Is it not too early to conclude that the apparent reconciliation deal agreed between Fatah and Hamas represents an "opportunity for peace" (leading article, 29 April)? Indeed, little detail has been disclosed as to how the agreement will be implemented.
Fatah and Hamas previously signed the 2007 Mecca Agreement and the 2008 Sanaa Agreement, both of which called for the formation of a Palestinian unity government but quickly fell apart and achieved nothing on the ground. A key problem is the ideological tensions between the two groups. Fatah rejects Hamas's Islamist ideology, use of violence and its declared desire to eliminate Israel. The two organisations have seemingly incompatible visions for a Palestinian state.
As you point out, "Much will depend on the question of how far Hamas is willing (or able) to moderate its official position with respect to Israel." Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader who took part in the talks that led to the current reconciliation deal, insisted: "The programme does not include negotiations with Israel or recognising it. It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or work on the peace process with Israel." Hamas also continues to fire rockets into Israel. How therefore do you propose that the international community should "attempt to lock Hamas into a peaceful negotiation process"?
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Brasenose College, Oxford
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