The Spectator

Letters | 3 December 2015

Plus: Less forgiving parts of the Quran; and the riddle of anxiety

Bombers without borders

Sir: To define this week’s debate as being about ‘bombing Syria’ (‘The great fake war’, 28 November) is ludicrous. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about fighting Isis. Whatever you call them, and wherever they are.

The current deal, under which we bomb Isis in Iraq but not in Syria, is as if we are content to fight them in Yorkshire but not in Lancashire. If people do not think we should be engaging Isis at all, that’s a different argument. But I would ask, ‘Where do they need to get to before you would engage them?’

Two years ago, we had a similar situation to today. The vote was similarly not about ‘bombing Syria’. It was about fighting and punishing Assad, which was a bad idea. What we should be discussing is whether or not we are going to fight Isis, and whether we have a decent, executable plan and sufficient resources that we are prepared to expend.
Stephen Barker

Grand Union Canal, London

Principles aren’t everything

Sir: The contrast Freddy Gray draws between Jeremy Corbyn’s principles and David Cameron’s pragmatism (‘Corbyn’s defence’, 28 November) — a comparison unfavourable to the Prime Minister — fails to recognise a marked change in circumstances. In 2013 the government proposed bombing Syria in pursuit of regime change, a questionable objective when national interest was not directly at stake (although this was before Europe’s immigration crisis). Today the aim is quite different, because the spread of terrorism threatens many countries, including Britain.

Rhetorical declarations of war, à la Hollande and formerly Bush, make for good soundbites, but not always for clear thinking. I take greater comfort from a pragmatic response to this threat than one based on a 20th-century concept of pacifism that is blind to current realities.
Clive Thursby

Hindhead, Surrey

Hitting back for Beefy

Sir: I fear that Mark Mason is hoist with his own petard in his denunciation of Sir Ian Botham (‘A beef with Beefy’, 28 November).

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