The Spectator

Letters | 18 May 2017

Also: the gospel of Matthew Parris; Japanese Brontë fever; hidden David Joneses; football supporters

Libyan solution

Sir: Boris Johnson correctly reports glimmers of hope in Libya, but to say its problems can be solved by political will risks falling into the same trap of wishful thinking that has hobbled the international community’s intervention there (‘Libya’s best hope’, 13 May). To fix Libya, its political process must be restructured to incentivise cooperation between its various factions.

One thing nearly all Libyans can agree on is that the country’s oil should flow freely, since oil revenues pay for everybody’s fuel, medicine and salaries. In recent years, oil production has been repeatedly blockaded by criminal militias and politicians alike; sometimes by the same people engaged in people-trafficking. If we want to drive the sides to reach a political settlement, Libya’s oil must be taken off the table as an object of conflict.

How? A modified Libyan Political Agreement should protect the National Oil Corporation (NOC) from political capture, while the Petroleum Facilities Guard must be restored to the control of the NOC — possibly the only functional institution left in the country. These actions could be accomplished with two strokes of a pen. This is a set of policies Britain can help to craft.
James Cecil
London W6

Gospel of Matthew Parris

Sir: Matthew Parris is ambitious indeed to claim that he can ‘do better than Matthew’s gospel’ (13 May), but he is too timid in his detaching of morality from religion. Yes, morality precedes religion; yes, religion has used and misused moral codes for its benefit; and yes, moral systems are most likely societal and Darwinian. Moral systems come and go fleetingly, though — they are necessarily of this world. By contrast, religion proposes eternal truths. Christians believe that in the person of Jesus, God’s eternal nature is revealed as being utterly beyond and yet fully involved in this world.

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