Victories for Bush in a just war against militant Islam
Victories for Bush in a just war against militant Islam
Sir: I am an American who has been living in England for the last two years. I have been amazed (and sometimes amused) by the rabid-dog reactions of the left in the UK (and in Europe in general) to virtually anything the current US administration does. The 10 May edition of The Independent is a case in point. Within its pages, I found an editorial comparing the coalition detention system to that of the Soviet gulag, Bush and Blair as Stalin, and an article on also-ran presidential candidate Howard Dean containing the phrase "the extremism of the Bush administration".
One letter to the editor decries the efforts of the US to "dictate values to the rest of the world, and especially to that most honourable of religious communities, Islam". Another maintains the actions against Iraqi prisoners "have destroyed any credentials the US may ever have had for invading Iraq". Does anyone believe Allied soldiers in the Second World War did not lean a bit heavily on Nazi and Japanese prisoners from time to time? Did this "destroy the credentials" for invading Germany and bombing Japan to wipe out fascism?
There is no excuse for what young soldiers (US, British, or others for that matter) did in that prison. We are, however, at war. We were attacked on 11 September 2001 and over 3,000 people were killed by members of that "most honourable of religious communities". The war against militant Islam is as serious as the war against the Nazis or the Cold War against Communism.
As far as President Bush is concerned, here is what he is "guilty" of: since 11 September 2001, he has removed two evil regimes (Kabul and Baghdad) and a third (Tripoli) has just come clean, no doubt scared by the fate of the disgusting Saddam Hussein. The mullahs in Tehran and little Assad in Damascus are shaking in their boots. He has immobilised Osama bin Laden, destroyed al-Qa'ida's base and begun to create the only functioning democracy in the Middle East besides Israel. (He has also driven members of the left on both sides of "the pond" into apoplexy, sufficient reason to vote for him in itself.)
ALEX DRINKWATER JR
Now we could face catastrophe in Iraq
Sir: It appears that we should now start facing the real possibility of a catastrophe in Iraq. The possibility of the total defeat of the "Coalition of the Willing" is no longer just a fear of the anti-war brigade or a desire of the militant fundamentalists of Islam. The awful spectre of the helicopters saving the chosen few off the roof of the American embassy in Baghdad is now a distinct possibility. It opens the prospect of the collapse of Western influence in at least parts of the Middle East.
If Iraq falls into civil war let us not pretend that this will not involve Iran to defend the Shia, Syria to defend the Sunni and of course Turkey has already laid claim to it's right to "calm" the Kurds in the North. May their Gods help them, for surely we will not.
What will happen to the existing governments of Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia? Without the massive support of America, can they last? If these big dominoes begin to fall what will happen to our trade and our oil supply. Europe may be better positioned to trade with some, but will Europeans stick their necks out for the UK in any negotiation? Most Europeans would argue that Britain ignored their entreaties by going to war, and must take the consequences.
Osama bin Laden must be chuckling. We are faced with an awful prospect of massive oil shortages and the world split into two camps each loathing the other on the monstrous grounds of religious intolerance.
It seems that Bush and Blair may be on the brink of a disaster far worse than that of 11 September and this time it is an own goal. If they even displayed the remotest glimmer of an admission that they could possibly have got anything at all even slightly wrong, then I would reciprocate with a glimmer of a hope that they could possibly get something right. No, these fools have no more right to govern us. Our only salvation will come from our admission of the awful truth of our errors against Iraq and against Islam. Can we risk another day of Blair, another week, another year?
Sir: I was an RAF pilot in the Second World War, and became a prisoner of war after force-landing in the Libyan desert. Although refusing to state more than my name, rank and number when interrogated, I was never ill-treated. Throughout my 21 months as a PoW in Italy, I was treated humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Convention by the German and Italian troops who were my captors. The protective influence of the Red Cross was, of course, a vital factor - a role they are striving to repeat today.
I now find it utterly disgusting that a small number of British troops have disgraced their uniforms by their behaviour in Iraq.
Having served in Whitehall I am only too aware of the cosy relationship between the MoD, our intelligence agencies and senior politicians. Their first instinct will be to cover up as much as possible, especially if there was any official encouragement for the "softening-up" of prisoners. The long delays in taking action since the original reports by the Red Cross and Amnesty would appear significant.
Mr Blair will no doubt continue to promise action and justice, but it is essential that this be supervised by a respected independent body.
On behalf of former and present members of our armed forces, I urge the most strenuous action to uncover the extent of this mistreatment, to punish the culprits and to ensure that it does not happen again.
Wing Commander, DFC, RAF (Retd)
Sir: Never mind the 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq (letter, 11 May) - how about the 14 permanent US military bases in the UK? Since the end of the cold war 15 years ago, what possible strategic interest could they now serve? Certainly not ours.
At this time when our close military ties to the US have brought shame upon us all and opened us up to potential terrorist attack, I believe now would be a good time for us to pursue a defence strategy independent of the US and more closely aligned to the more ethical stance of our core European allies.
Asking the Americans to politely leave these shores would be an essential first step - after all, there are no UK bases in the US, nor would the US administration ever countenance such a thing, so why are they here?
Newhaven, East Sussex
Sir: So, Bruce Anderson (10 May), "all roads to progress in the Middle East lead through Baghdad", do they? And then where? Every US government shores up Israel's illegal landgrabbing in the Holy Land. The can of worms which the King of Jordan warned the world about if the West were to invade Iraq has been opened by Bush and Blair.
The resultant shameful mess looks as if it will be passed to President Kerry and Prime Minister Howard. Can any of your readers see either changing the direction of Western policies in the Middle East? No, Mr Anderson, Baghdad is nothing more than a staging post on the road to progress in the region. And sadly it's a road that leads straight to a cul-de-sac in Jerusalem.
King's Lynn, Norfolk
Sir: Mark Blackman's suggestion that public libraries are out of date (letter, 6 May) ignores the splendid range of other functions they fill, beyond book loans.
During my research for a book about the French revolutionary Terror the excellent inter-library loan service supplied me, through the local library, with a string of volumes, many in French, many obscure, several from foreign shelves, many long out of print; one, published in 1870 in Paris, from a university library with its pages still uncut.
I rarely waited longer than three weeks or so and was also quite often permitted to extend the basic loan period. For a flat charge of 75p per volume, I was therefore afforded the facility of a first-rate research library with the added ease of being able to work from home.
If that kind of service is out of date then so is curiosity itself.
Sir: Whilst we have every sympathy with people inhabiting Britain's large conurbations who are forced to scuttle from office fortress to gated communities where they exist through the internet, those of us in small towns and villages across the country prefer not to live quite so much "on the edge".
Public libraries for us are bustling, social places offering art exhibitions, poetry readings, internationally acclaimed authors leading discussion groups, mother-and-toddler groups, music scores, books on local flora, fauna and archaeology, large scale maps detailing county-wide footpaths and bridleways as well as offering a pretty fair selection of world fiction and non-fiction.
Could it be that public libraries are the very reason why people are leaving the large cities in droves seeking a more rounded way of life in country towns and villages? Anachronisms Mr Blackman? You need to get out more.
Sir: Peta's "Holocaust on your Plate" campaign (report, 7 May) makes an insensitive, disgraceful and outrageous comparison between Hitler's Holocaust and animal slaughter.
But the unimaginative Peta have simply rehashed a tired, ill-informed and irresponsible campaign long used by themselves and some other animal welfare campaign movements. It is high time this appalling practice of misusing the unique human tragedy of the Holocaust were stopped.
Lord JANNER OF BRAUNSTONE
Chairman, Holocaust Educational Trust, House of Lords
Sir: Having lived the past 25 years in Frankfurt, within walking distance of the former Gestapo headquarters and of the assembly point from which the city's Jews were transported by cattle truck to the camps, I find Peta's comparison of man's treatment of animals with the Holocaust totally reasonable. The identical Nazi principle applies in both cases: the assumption by one group of beings that they are superior in every way to another group, and therefore have the tight to misuse and exterminate them at will.
Sir: Breastfeeding is indisputably the best way to feed a baby, and Nestlé actively promotes this fact. We also believe that when mothers cannot or choose not to breastfeed, they have a right to safe, nutritious infant formula for their babies.
A small group of UK activists does not share this latter view. And now, these activists' allegations may have helped sink a very significant contribution by Cereal Partners Ltd, a Nestlé venture with General Mills, to help women with breast cancer ("Nestlé's £1m offer rejected by breast cancer charity", 6 May). Where is their commitment to women's health?
Their portrayal of our marketing is not true. For two decades Nestlé has followed World Health Organisation guidelines for baby milk marketing in all developing countries and stopped promoting infant formula. As a result, there is no advertising or any communication with the public and no discounts, coupons or special promotions; special product packaging reminds parents that "breastfeeding is best".
We systematically investigate any allegation of improper marketing and take action against those who have violated the code.
Nestlé today makes a major contribution to world health. With the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Brazilian Government's Zero Hunger Campaign, Nestlé helps provide education and care to over 750,000 African youth and people living with HIV/Aids, safe drinking water to over 200,000 Ethiopians; and nutrition for hundreds of thousands of hungry people in Brazil.
A genuine opportunity to help women with breast cancer has been lost.
ALASTAIR J SYKES
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé UK Ltd
Shirt of the stars
Sir: What distinguishes the "middle-management-smart shirt" that Val Kilmer wore to for his interview (10 May) and where can I get one?
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Sir: It might interest Mr Hough (letter, 10 May ) to know that Dogs not only Trust Merseyside, they also Trust Kenilworth, Roden, West Calder and Ilfracombe, not to mention another 10 sites around the country. Dogs Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity. We've been building the trust of our dogs since 1891, when we used to be the NCDL. As for canine awareness of the Local Government Act, I hope dogs in need will always know where to find us!
KYLIE KLEIN NIXON
Dogs Trust, London EC1
Fight for rights
Sir: Why does Yasmin Alibhai-Brown give up the fight before it has begun ("The new equal rights body won't work", 10 May)? She says we need a "national institution with a fiercely independent leader" but predicts that because of the Government's failure to protect human rights, the new commission will "drown in the cesspit of degraded public ethics". When the White Paper emerges tomorrow (Wednesday), why won't she argue for its independence and effectiveness and campaign to teach the fledgling body how to fly? Isn't that what concerned citizens should do?
Institute for Public Policy Research
Sir: The A380 baggage problem is easily solved (letter 11 May): tag half the bags with red labels and half with green. The former will arrive on Carrousel A and the others on B. Less easy will be the problem of several A380s' worth of passengers swarming onto the M25 after arriving simultaneously at Heathrow. Just as well the M25 is currently a quiet, under-utilised motorway.