Terrorism, Driven to drink and others

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Terrorism will not be eradicated until we attack injustice

Terrorism will not be eradicated until we attack injustice

Sir: Dr James A Crupi, writing from Texas (letters, 16 March), says that the Spanish people were wrong to throw out the government that in order to get re-elected, tried to mislead them about the perpetrators of last week's outrage in Madrid. We too do not like being lied to by our government and would most likely do the same here if a credible alternative existed, but unfortunately both parties with the possibility of forming a government are at the moment as bad as each other.

What many Americans seem to find difficult to accept is that there are millions of people in Europe and elsewhere who do not wish to have the world turned into a theme park in which American big business can frolic and gambol as it wishes, and consequently are not content to see their governments slavishly fall into line with American foreign policy. To say that is not to condone or accept the activities of the murderous thugs who randomly target and kill innocent strangers by the thousand.

Since the end of the Second World War American policy has striven in bloody and devious ways all over the world to topple any government, legitimately elected in most cases, that has shown the slightest inclination towards socialism, whilst at the same time supporting any thuggish regime such as Saddam's as long as it suited America's purpose.

Terrorism will not be eradicated until the western world addresses the terrible injustices and inequalities that disfigure our world and serve as justification for the cynical murderers we call terrorists. Sadly there is not much sign at present of this happening.

GEORGE F YOUNG
Derby

Sir: Those like James A Crupi who accuse the Spanish of lacking courage misunderstand their motives. Taking to the streets, in defiance of further potential attacks, takes far more courage than bombing Iraq and Afghanistan. Turning the other cheek is the value that we should stand up for, not an eye for an eye.

MARK HARMS
Clara Vale, Tyne and Wear

If we play by the rules, evil will win

Sir: As an Eighties teenager who grew up with Dirty Harry, Death Wish, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the A-Team (all of whom "broke the rules to nail the bad guys"), I now find myself totally immune to the endless carping of leftists, liberals and lawyers still fretting about the "legality" of taking on all too real terrorists and tyrants in our ongoing war against terror.

If we insist on playing by rules the evildoers ignore, they will win and we will lose. It really is that simple.

KEITH GILMOUR
Glasgow

Sir: In the light of the dreadful atrocity in Madrid and the consequent surprise victory for the anti-war Socialists shall I demand the resignation of Tony Blair as the propitiation for Western sins and as the Danegeld for averting a similar or proportionately worse outrage in the United Kingdom?

That's the cost of the illegal invasion of Iraq - just like 9/11. No, that was after 9/11. Ah, then perhaps it's our Anglo-Saxon past and present aggression - and my loved ones are to be eliminated as the price of the anger this has caused whilst clever types explain in measured glum, ivory-tower terms that we had it coming to us.

Just don't be in the wrong place at the wrong time because there'll always be somebody about to empathise with the problems of those who caused your violent and terrifying death or dismemberment.

What I think I need is a list of current British politicians acceptable to the terrorists so that I don't waste my time electing those who might bring a metropolitan Armageddon on us. I promise to try not to be frightened for my loved ones in the meantime.

TIMOTHY GREENHILL
Billingshurst, West Sussex

Sir: Following Madrid and al-Qa'ida's clear involvement one would hope that The Independent will now at last recognise that homeland security takes a clear precedence over the free movement of labour prescribed under the Treaty of Rome, and that if there is a genuine as opposed to hyped conflict between civil rights and the need to arrest and detain (for reasonable periods) those suspected of terrorist activity or planning, then again the protection of the public takes precedence.

For far too long The Independent has failed to recognise the threat to our people and for far too long has held views which are essentially both dangerous and irresponsible.

WILLIAM G HAYMES
Coventry

Sir: There are those who now feel justified in their opposition to the war in Iraq because of the bombings in Madrid. There seems to be an assumption that those in the West who keep their heads down and don't become involved will not be a target.

Terrorist groups like al-Qa'ida have in their sights all who hold different views, have different lifestyles and practise different religions. Do people really think we can walk by on the other side and not be affected by this? With or without the Iraq war the threat was going to affect us at some point. Don't be fooled by political opportunists into thinking that we in Britain would have been safe had we not gone to war.

B BRESLIN
Grays, Essex

Causes to die for

Sir: As someone who uses the tube or trains of London it is hard to ignore the Madrid bombing and its impact on the Spanish elections.

I for one would accept the risk when standing up for freedom and democracy, as we stood up to the IRA and previous generations stood up to the Blitz. But why should I risk death because Tony Blair was unwilling to wait a few months and launched his illegal war? And why should I risk death because the West remains unwilling to prevent Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinians?

While it is too late to undo the decisions made last March, it is not too late to pressurise Israel to accept UN Resolution 242, and return to its 1967 border. That is not giving into terrorism, but standing firm by my basic principles.

The alternative is to say that the existence of terrorism excuses continuing injustices such as those suffered by the Palestinians. And that isn't an alternative I would willingly die for.

JOHN PAHL
London SW9

I vote as I please

Sir: As a Spanish citizen resident in the UK I posted my vote for the general election on Saturday 6 March, days before the Madrid massacre. As always, I voted left.

Now politicians and pundits claim this is a triumph for terrorism. What was the Spanish left (and the anti-war right) supposed to do? Vote against their preference because otherwise it would look like Bin Laden's victory?

On Saturday I will be marching in London to vindicate my right to be against Bush-and-Blair's war, to be against terrorism and to vote as I please.

ARIADNA ACEVEDO-RODRIGO
Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Close UK down

Sir: Does Alan Wesson, who suggests luggage check-ins for trains (letter, 13 March) use trains? The only reasonable facility for large luggage is at the vestibule ends of express carriages, which on some routes are overladen before the carriage fills. Much local commuter stock has no overhead racking; and most new stock is designed by people who carry no luggage, or send on the servants ahead with it.

Will baby buggies, shopping trollies and bicycles need handing in? Will all passengers muster at stations two hours before leaving, and all stations have X-ray machines - or will they to be closed? After the luggage has been checked in, who carries it? Will porters be restored? Are trains to be emptied when unattended luggage is suspected? Even what looks like a lap-top computer or camera case could be a mighty wodge of Semtex. What stops bombs being left in tube trains, trams, buses and taxis?

Perhaps in order to combat suicide attacks we should abolish public transport, close shopping malls and level skyscrapers. Some IRA bombs exploded in pubs. Do we close all pubs?

RALPH GEE
Nottingham

Unobtainable

Sir: It seems that mobile phones were used to set off the bombs in Madrid. At present, the London Underground - surely a vulnerable target - is beyond the mobile's reach. However, as was recently reported in this paper, there are plans to change all that. Is this wise?

JONNY SHAPIRO
London W14

Driven to drink

Sir: When I hear that the Blair administration is to tackle binge drinking (report, 15 March), I hope it will start with the root cause: its own small-minded philistinism.

Even if it gave us the best health system in Europe, the best-educated work force, the best infrastructures and streets bristling with helpful policemen, a Blairite Britain would still be such a joyless over-regulated place it would drive people to drink and drugs.

Blair and his lieutenants simply do not understand the spontaneity, the gregariousness, the ribaldry of popular culture. In many counties it is through carnival that people learn to enjoy themselves. Such a period of licence and misrule is unthinkable in the Blairite worldview. The Government sees only a leisure industry in which recreation is directed to provide jobs and commercial profits.

In the background is the aesthetic degradation of town and country. Our cities are no longer integrated structures embodying local origins and social culture. Our noble landscape is disappearing under ersatz housing and politically correct wind-farms. People not starved of this "psychic nutrient" are less likely to be angry and violent, even if the man in the street is unlikely to admit to such higher feelings.

It is not by prohibition and confrontation that the problems will be

solved. It is by finding government that will let people enjoy themselves and not make them conform to bourgeois small-mindedness.

R W CHAPLIN
Norwich

A test for MMR

Sir: Kenneth Campbell (letter, 11 March) has given a complex but valid reply to criticism - but it does seem to me that he is still failing to see the wood for looking at the trees.

As long as many people fear to have MMR and so may risk their children's health, we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

As long as almost all medics believe in the value of MMR it is unethical to create an experiment which would answer the question by giving a placebo vaccination to a representative sample.

There is an unvaccinated sample to hand but it is self-selected; this means it may also be self selected for other factors. As autism is a complex condition which may well have many predisposing and trigger factors, this is a problem.

Surely however this does not prevent the simple comparison being made. If there is no difference between the groups then that is pretty much the question answered - MMR plays no part. If there is a substantial difference then it is a question of "action stations", both for further research, however complex and expensive, to see if there are indeed other factors at work and also for precautionary action as there would be a reasonable likelihood that it was indeed the MMR that was responsible.

ANN DUNCOMBE
Tullibody, Clackmannanshire

Inequitable

Sir: If the Government is not prepared to help out those, including myself, who have lost out badly on investments with Equitable Life for reasons which include failures by the regulators, why have regulators at all? As the failure of the regulation regime produces cries of "Caveat emptor", surely no regulation at all would be appropriate. It would make little difference to final outcomes and save some taxpayer's money.

JOHN HENDERSON
Beech Hampshire

Don't do anything

Sir: The punctuation police should give the Metropolitan Police a copy of Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Their poster campaign on the London Underground offers this advice if we notice a suspect package: "Don't touch, check with other passengers, inform station staff or dial 999".

STEPHEN CHURCHETT
Brighton

Blair must go

Sir: The Labour Party's leaders still don't get it, judging from speeches at their spring conference. Many of us who support much of the Government's programme will have great difficulty voting Labour while Tony Blair remains leader. Iraq was not just another irritating let-down. It was a serious matter of judgment and integrity where the lives of thousands were at risk. The Prime Minister failed miserably. Rather than lecturing us on the need to come together to fight the Tories, Mr Blair should stop behaving selfishly and make way for a new, untainted leader.

HENRY TINSLEY
London W2

A pox on it!

Sir: James Lawton (Blackburn v Arsenal match report, 15 March) has got it wrong. The "gallows or the pox" exchange took place between Lord Sandwich and John Wilkes, not Gladstone and Disraeli.

RONALD GRIFFIN
Colchester, Essex

Charismatic leader

Sir: Are you sure the inscription (Pandora, 11 March) didn't read "Tony Blair is a cult"?

GORDON ELLIOT
Selborne, Hampshire

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