Letters: So, could it be legal for Syria to bomb us?

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 3 September, 2013

Share

The government has yet to provide a straightforward and convincing answer to the all-important question: would British military intervention in the Syrian civil war be legal?

One country can use military force against another in self-defence, but this does not apply here. One country can militarily intervene in another country’s affairs, which would otherwise amount to an act of war, if the United Nations sanctions this course. This sanction is obtained from the Security Council, but is subject to the permanent members’ power of veto (which would currently be exercised by Russia and China).

Dapo Akande, a respected international lawyer at Oxford University, suggests that the UN General Assembly might have the power to authorise the use of force if its Security Council was not willing to.

As far as I am aware, no tenet of international law authorises a country to take aggressive military action against another country on humanitarian grounds alone. If it were otherwise, absurd consequences could flow. For example, Syria could have militarily intervened in Northern Ireland as a result of the British soldiers’ alleged misconduct towards innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday.

David Ashton, Shipbourne, Kent

I agree with Diane Brace (letter, 31 August) that we shall now not be taking part in killing any Syrians. No, we shall leave such activity to Assad and his thugs, who do it so much better.

Sadly neither shall we be making any attempt to save them from one of the worst warfare atrocities, namely death by chemical weapons. The Geneva Protocol banning such weapons was drawn up in 1925, with Britain one of the first signatories. Now we have refused to join the coalition to enforce that ban.

A sad day for Britain, yes, but thank God for President Obama – and France.

Stuart Russell, Cirencester

Amid all the arguments over whether and in what circumstances military action against Syria might be in accordance with international law, do not forget that there is at present no means of definitively answering the question. There should be an international court to reach a judgment on which everyone could rely.

Richard Laming, London NW2

The fanatics who planned 9/11 believed that they would gain revenge if they killed people in the West, even though their victims had had no influence over their grievances. Bush and Blair believed that they would gain revenge for 9/11 if they killed innocent Iraqis even though they knew those Iraqis had no influence over what had happened on 9/11.

Now some believe that we would gain revenge for those chemical attacks, if we killed conscripts and civilians in Syria who we know had no influence over such attacks. 

Brian Christley, Abergele, Conwy

Regardless of personal politics and the personal aims of the Prime Minister, I am simply glad to live where I live in the world, where the voice of Parliament is listened to and acted upon. The special relationship between Parliament and the people outweighs any special relationship with the US.

John Patrick, Thame, Oxfordshire

Your correspondents who share the “shame” felt by Paddy Ashdown that the UK “white feather brigade” has stopped them bombing yet another Arab country should join the old warhorse in forming their own brigade, and go fight in Syria.

Peter McKenna, Liverpool

Drop pointless badger cull and go for a vaccine

The National Farmers Union is pouring all its effort into promoting and trying to justify the badger cull; a policy that science shows will, at best, have a marginal beneficial effect on the incidence of cattle TB, whilst dividing communities and giving farmers a very bad press.

The union could get the public behind it if it accepted the science and lobbied the Government to develop and deploy a cattle vaccine as a matter of urgency. I’m sure many organisations would support this action. 

This must be achievable technically, as vaccines exist already for humans and badgers. The cost, I imagine, would also be very much less than currently deployed in compensating farmers for the ineffective policy of culling infected cattle. It just needs a determined effort to overcome the red tape of acceptability.

This policy would have winners all round. Let’s join together and put an end to culling cattle and badgers.

Dr Clive Mowforth, Dursley, Gloucestershire

It seems quite extraordinary to me that the badger cull is proceeding alongside measures that should have been in place many years ago. Since introducing tighter bio-security, restricting cattle movement, and improving testing methods the incidence of bTB has fallen, and will no doubt continue to do so.

By insisting on the slaughter of badgers, Owen Paterson will no doubt claim victory on the back of other measures already in place. No one will ever know if this hitherto protected species is involved in the spread of the disease. It is not a viable scientific experiment.

Jill Deane, Staveley, Cumbria

Back to a future of maritime power

Having just returned from another south-coast air show, I realise once again that we British excel at rebuilding old Second World War aircraft such as the Lancaster, Spitfire and Swordfish.

I know we are a poor country, and cannot afford supersonic fighters like the French navy’s Dassault Rafale, but we cannot allow our two new aircraft carriers to put to sea with no aircraft at all. Whilst we still have the plans, and the know-how, we should set about building at least two squadrons of Swordfish, to be ready for action when the carriers are commissioned. 

We may not be able to match French or American fire power at sea, but we will, at least, be more than a match for Indian Ocean pirates.

D Waddington, Ringwood, Hampshire

Atos needs some facts

The Government is discriminating against people with disabilities, including Parkinson’s disease, as a result of entirely unacceptable ignorance. Appointing an agency such as Atos to make life-changing decisions about people, giving them neither the knowledge or information necessary to make  correct judgements is entirely unacceptable.

As a specialist physiotherapist in Parkinson’s, I know that many of my patients’ anxiety levels, already heightened as a symptom of Parkinson’s, are alarmingly threatened by suggestions of benefits being removed. Symptoms of Parkinson’s commonly fluctuate, and medication can wear off, causing sudden changes in mobility and ability to carry out activities of daily living.

Atos needs to accept that it is making wrong decisions based on inappropriate information, and seek guidance from medical experts.

Fiona Lindop, Duffield, Derbyshire

The schools parents choose

The finding of a survey that half of parents would opt to send their children to state schools even if money was no object (report, 28 August) does not tell us much. It would be more informative to judge the actions of those already in that position.

Top bankers, Premier League footballers, successful company directors, chief executives of councils, quangos and big charities are a diverse bunch. What proportion of these opt for the state system? 

Admittedly, those of modest means who find their circumstances change dramatically may be different. Can anyone provide the relevant statistics for lottery winners?

Rupert Fast, Esher, Surrey

Make things, like the Germans

John Rentoul’s article of 28 August was largely about the inadvisability of investing in HS2, and I find myself in agreement with much of what he has to say. However, his references to banking and manufacturing are simplistic.

To say that we are “good at banking” defies the mountain of evidence that has been built up since 2008. Mismanagement at the Co-operative Bank has added to the mismanagement, and worse, at almost all of the British banks.

Rentoul argues that as it is cheaper to make things in the Far East, all manufacturing should be based there. Tell that to the Germans. They understand the importance of manufacturing to their economy. They have a better balanced economy than does Britain and they are the powerhouse of the wider European economy.

I suggest Mr Rentoul make a study of the German economy. He might then find some of the answers that he apparently seeks, especially to the unhealthy economic dominance of London and the South-east.

Roger Barstow Frost, Burnley, Lancashire

Frost/Kennedy

Presumably, the BBC will mark the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s assassination on 22 November 1963. It would be a fine gesture to broadcast the superb That Was The Week That Was programme which David Frost and the rest of that brilliant team put together in 24 hours, a copy of which is, I believe, preserved in the Library of Congress, such was their admiration.

John Birkett, St Andrews

Gove’s puzzle

Michael Gove has been most troubled recently about the number of times some students retake exams. Now he is insisting that those who have failed to achieve Grade C in English and maths should study them further and, presumably, retake the exams until they achieve the necessary standard. How does he square this circle?!

David Downing, Wimborne, Dorset

Help for the Bard

The revision of Romeo and Juliet by Julian Fellowes reminded me of the 1929 Hollywood production of the Taming of the Shrew, which lists in the credits – “The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare – With additional dialogue by Sam Taylor”.

Peter Evans, Walton on Thames,  Surrey

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform