Boris Johnson’s speech on Syria is a bad case of the pot calling the kettle black

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Wednesday 12 October 2016 18:29 BST
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Reuters)

When Boris Johnson and America accuse Russia of war crimes in Syria, isn’t this a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black? While I’m sure war crimes have been committed by both Russia and the Assad regime, at least Russia is on the right side fighting all the different terrorist groups whereas America likes to face both ways fighting one lot of terrorists on the one hand while on the other openly supporting another gang.

It’s true that as many as 250,000 innocent victims have died in Syria’s civil war (a UN estimate) and many of them at the hands of the Assad regime, but how do these figures compare to the 650,000 – 1 million people who were killed in Britain and America's immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq? And what war crimes will America commit when it bombs Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities, to drive out Isis?

What amazes me is the moral certitude of the affair. Britain’s great Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter described it like this: “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systemic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people talk about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” He wrote this in 1958 and it has only gotten worse.

Mark Holt

When Jeremy Corbyn supports protests, it is condemned by both Tories and some Labour MPs, as anti-parliament and anti-democracy – how dare he! When Boris Johnson calls for protests outside the Russian embassy, well, that is more or less okay. Even protesting, it seems, should be allowed only for the privileged few.

Peter Cave

Watch out, there are creepy clowns about! As for a creepy foreign secretary, that surely is a clown too far. As political journalist, as an editor, even as a mayor of London, Johnson was acceptable and fairly entertaining. Now he holds a serious position as our nation’s leading diplomat; we have the right to expect him to conduct himself with gravitas. This, yesterday in Parliament, he did not do.

Condemning acts of aggression and war crimes is of course within his remit. But jumping on the bandwagon of Ann Clwyd’s call for mass demonstrations at Russian embassies is tantamount to rabble-rousing. Both he and Clwyd supported the invasion of Iraq, for which many of their constituents will not forgive them. Let us hope that years from now they will not be blamed for having helped to incite the Second Cold War.

Elizabeth Morley

Brexit blues

Irrespective of whether it is Downing Street or Diane Abbott who says it, the statement that the outcome of the referendum “reflects the will of the British people” is disingenuous and misleading. The outcome of the referendum reflected the will only of the 52 per cent of the British people who took the trouble to vote. Any statement about the referendum that omits that qualification is fit only to be emblazoned on the side of a Boris bus.

David Maughan Brown

David Davies and the other hard Brexiteers are using double standards. On the one side they insist that Britain will be granted favourable trading conditions, or even outright access to the single market, because industries in the rest of Europe will put pressure on their respective governments. On the other side, they blithely ignore the complaints of British business leaders. Two can probably play at that game.

Richard Francis
Address withheld

I generally vote Green but have no great axe to grind with the Liberal Democrats or Labour. I’ve never voted Conservative, but one set of circumstances could persuade me to do so just the once – if the vocal Tory Remainers, such as Anna Soubry and Nikki Morgan, got sufficient of the more silent Tory Remainers behind them, mounted and won a leadership challenge and then called a two-issue general election. The first issue would be about reversing Brexit. The second would be to apply Theresa May’s principle of working for the many and not the few to the disenfranchised parts of the country that voted Brexit. Shall I dream on?

Patrick Cosgrove
Bucknell, Shropshire

Playing with politics

We keep hearing and reading about cuts – cuts to care for the elderly, cuts in legal aid, and all causing severe hardship. The one thing that strikes me in reading all this is that these are cuts in England, not necessarily felt in other parts of the UK where the system of care and legal aid is organised differently. What does that say about this country? Why is England bearing the brunt of all this? Could it be because the majority of MPs represent English constituencies and are happily screwing down the lid on public expenditure in England?

Val Pastakia

First we had shoebox apartments, then inheritance going to the grandchildren, and now we’re told not to forget your passport if you are giving birth. I have come to a conclusion about why certain members of the government have been very vocal over such new blockbuster ideas. Obviously housing minister Gavin Barwell and his colleagues had a very long and very satisfying luncheon at the Department for Stupid Ideas. If they declare they did not, then we all have something to worry about.

Robert Boston
Kings Hill, Kent

America at the political crossroads

The moment Donald Trump based his whole agenda on hate and bigotry was when he took the wrong exit on the highway and started going in the wrong direction. He had the potential to gather a forceful momentum to make a change. People are hungry to see a real change. They are fed up by career politicians. But when he started spreading hatred and bigotry against almost everyone who isn’t white, he lost the real battle. Hopes in him had faded away.

Abubakar N Kasim
Toronto, Canada

It seems that the saying “whenever America sneezes Britain catches a cold” is true – Halloween, candlelight vigils, the creepy clown craze. Do we have to always copy the Americans?

Barbara MacArthur

In praise of the GP’s receptionist

Referring to Doctors’ receptionists, my local practice could not be more different from those described in the press: always polite, always listening attentively, appointments always offered that day if required, and an immediate response when I was concerned about heart pain. Could it be that patients themselves do not take the lead and explain exactly what is causing them to seek an urgent consultation?

Joy Nisbet
Church Stretton, Shropshire

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