Letters: Cameron’s dilemma over bombing Isis in Syria

The following letters appear in the 18 November edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Tuesday 17 November 2015 18:57

David Cameron has said that extending RAF action to Isis targets in Syria is necessary both for the defence of this country and containing the murder and mayhem being inflicted by this group. The Government is failing in its duty, therefore, if it does not take upon itself the responsibility for extension of UK action.

Mr Cameron will never obtain “consensus” in Parliament with the current Labour leadership in place. I suspect that many Labour MPs would support action but they are unlikely to vote against Jeremy Corbyn so soon after his becoming their leader.

But it does not matter; once you are elected, even on a minority vote as is always the case, you are the Government and must act, as you deem necessary, in the interests of everybody in the UK. If Mr Cameron lacks the confidence to make the correct judgment and feels it necessary to put the matter to a parliamentary vote, then a majority of one would be sufficient.

It is entirely wrong that UK defence and foreign policy should be swayed by Mr Corbyn or others who do not command a majority in the House. Given Mr Corbyn’s views in a BBC interview on dealing with armed terrorists, it would be equally worrying if these placed any constraints on the decisions made by our police and security forces on UK soil.

Peter Groves

Haverfordwest. Pembrokeshire

France has bombed many Isis targets in response to the Paris massacre. An understandable response, but one born of revenge and emotion instead of rationality and intelligence. A similar response to that from the US after 9/11 and one which will fan the flames rather than extinguish the fire.

No one speaks of what exactly has been destroyed in such raids. There will have been many more innocent civilians killed, people who hate Isis as much as we do but have nowhere to go. More deaths, more hatred for the West, more recruitment to the nihilistic Isis cause.

That is exactly what Isis wants to see from the West: revenge attacks, polarised communities, fear and hatred of Muslims, more Islamophobic attacks, erosion of free speech and other human rights.

At the same time scant attention is paid to more effective strategies such as stopping the flow of money, weapons and spiritual inspiration to Isis. Surely this has nothing to do with the fact that we might find that Isis is being supported, financially and spiritually, by our “friends” in the Gulf? But that would be a rational and intelligent response.

Dr Shazad Amin

Sale, Greater Manchester

Have the hysterical critics of Jeremy Corbyn’s nuanced response to a question about supporting a “shoot to kill” policy forgotten that the British police and armed forces do not have a particularly distinguished record of actually shooting the right people?

From Bloody Sunday to the incompetent misidentification and assassination of Jean Charles de Menezes and others, there are plenty of reasons for those in authority to show more caution.

There may be little argument about security forces taking down a terrorist with a gun or bomb visible in their hands, but unless those who are pressing for a broader “shoot to kill” policy are prepared themselves to be shot on suspicion, like de Menezes, because they may be wearing a thick overcoat or carrying a suspicious rucksack (perhaps with their iPod cables hanging out), or because they may be holding a wrapped-up table leg (to give another real example), then there do need to be stricter rules before security services start pulling their triggers on our streets.

Keith Gymer

Datchworth, Hertfordshire

Parisians’ determination to carry on life as normal in defiance of terrorism is courageous and inspiring.

The increase of resources to root out terrorism in European countries is sensible and necessary.

The bombing of Raqqa and the killing of civilians as well as Isis fighters is a disgraceful act and will continue the cycle of violence.

Malcolm Gentry

Hexham, Northumberland

REFUGEES: danger or opportunity?

As Kim Sengupta suggests (17 November), isolation, unemployment and discontent, living in the “ghettos” of big cities like Paris, may lead to young Muslims joining Isis. Surely then, all the more reason not to take in more immigrants, many of whom seem to be young male adults.

If there is not enough employment or community cohesion for the immigrant communities already there, why bring in even more people? It is so short-sighted to continue the “open door” policy.

Sue Allen


Daesh [Isis] hates the fact that millions of Muslims have walked away from its “Caliphate” and headed to Europe. The flow is anathema to Daesh, undermining the group’s message that its self-styled Caliphate is a refuge.

They have repeatedly put out messages to the refugees ranging from pleading to warnings to outright threats. In just four days in September they released a dozen videos aimed at the people fleeing Syria.

Welcome the refugees, help them, watch them flourish in the protection of our society and the Islamic State will get smaller and smaller without a single air-force sortie.

Roy Isserlis

Ormiston, East Lothian

Mike Galvin (letter, 17 November) recommends the “tactical deployment” of nuclear weapons against Isis. Apart from its immorality, this would be the most foolish step the West could take, providing Isis with a propaganda coup beyond its wildest imagining. Winning hearts and minds must be part of our strategy, not losing them beyond hope of retrieval.

Gordon Thynne

Coulsdon, Surrey

Several recent letters have pointed out that countries which have a nuclear deterrent have been attacked by other countries and by terrorists. The writers of those letters have missed the point.

Countries possess a nuclear deterrent to deter other countries attacking them with nuclear weapons. This strategy has so far been 100 per cent successful. If Japan had possessed a nuclear weapon in 1945 one might conjecture that the US would not have detonated nuclear bombs above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

David Rose

Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

It is true that WMDs won’t stop suicide bombers (Adrienne Fitzwilliam, letter, 16 November). But wouldn’t Isis use a nuclear weapon if they had one?

Making a Hiroshima-type bomb is not difficult, apart from getting its explosive, U-235. It is hard to think of a better reason for destroying Isis as soon as possible, and for keeping our nuclear deterrent at least until we can be certain that the Isis infrastructure has gone completely, and has no chance of resurrection.

Hugh Pennington


Oil tax breaks are no subsidy

Contrary to your report on the Overseas Development Institute’s claim that the UK government gives more financial support to the fossil fuel industry than renewable energy providers (12 November), the UK offshore oil and gas production sector is not, and has never been, in receipt of government subsidy.

Offshore oil and gas producers are subject to more onerous taxes than other industries, ranging between 50 and 75 per cent of profits, significantly higher than other UK business sectors’ 20 per cent.

Tax allowances merely serve to lessen that tax burden in order to encourage investment in new production and support high-skilled jobs and billions of pounds of tax and export revenues in future. This adjustment is a particularly wise move on two counts. First, we in the UK will continue to rely on oil and gas to meet 70 per cent of our energy needs well into the 2030s according to the UK government. Second, in the event that we do not extract our own resources, we will have to import oil and gas, which results in higher global emissions.

Deirdre Michie

Chief Executive, Oil & Gas UK, London SW1

With enemies like this, who needs friends?

The clerical fascists of Islamic State, whose bombs and bullets have murdered thousands of people in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and now France, have done more to undermine and discredit their religion than any amount of atheist propaganda could ever do.

Ian Stewart

Convener, Atheist Scotland, Dundee

Unheard-of wickedness

Having read the lurid accounts of the life of the brothel keeper Cynthia Payne, my innocent grand-daughter asked me “Granny, what’s a luncheon voucher?”

Angela Polsen-Emy


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