Magazine article The Spectator

Letters

Magazine article The Spectator

Letters

Article excerpt

Bad timing?

From Bernard J. Baars

Sir: What a fine day it is for Simon Jenkins ('Nothing to fear but fear itself', 13 March): 200 dead and over 1,000 wounded in Madrid. Ten bombs went off simultaneously to maximise civilian pain - the al-Qa'eda signature we have seen from Ground Zero to Istanbul. And if Madrid can be hit so easily, can London be far behind?

No doubt Jenkins will remain in denial. He will tell us that more people died on the highway than did in Madrid. Well, consider more news. Yesterday highly purified uranium was discovered in Iran. A few weeks ago Pakistan confessed to spreading nuclear technology for the last decade. Gaddafi's Libya has just revealed major stockpiles of WMD materials. All three countries are deeply penetrated by Islamo-fascists, who glorify suicide attacks on any and all infidels. When - not if - the Madrid bombers obtain WMDs, will they spare Simon Jenkins's neighbourhood?

Bernard J. Baars

Lafayette, California, USA

From Donald Cameron Watt

Sir: You were a little unlucky in the timing of Simon Jenkins's article. But I am afraid that your correspondent has the wrong end of the stick. Mr Blair is genuinely scared. Whether he is doing the right thing or not is another matter. I fear that we shall have to accustom ourselves to the sudden impact of man-intended disasters. They are an added hazard to modern life, scaling up from crossing a road. They probably do not kill anything like as many people as some of the hazards we take in our stride - drunk drivers, drivers on their cell phones, train drivers with dicky hearts, young idiots throwing stones off bridges over the railway and so on. In the midst of life and so on.

Blair does not help by calling it a war. Wars can be won; crime - for this is what this is - is always with us, like burglary, murder, arson or embezzlement. Let us hope our Prime Minister will recover his nerve. Stiff upper lips all round. Of course, it would help if the community, in this case the Muslim community, would sort out its priorities and start denouncing not the murders but the murderers. Yet perhaps they are doing this already, but fear coming out of the closet.

Donald Cameron Watt

Emeritus Professor of International History

London School of Economics, WC1

From Commander H.L. Foxworthy

Sir: I read Simon Jenkins's article; how right he is! But more than that, I for one would be more prepared to give the Prime Minister more attention if his history of combating terrorism in the UK was worth anything. Blair made a brave statement that people offering or threatening violence would have no place at the discussion - but then allowed them one. He said after the Omagh bombing that 'we will leave no stone unturned to bring the miscreants to justice. . . ', but signally failed to do so.

In combating terrorism in the UK, Blair has been an abject failure, so he must strut elsewhere.

H.L. Foxworthy

Forfar, Angus

From Paul Moorcraft

Sir: As a big fan of your magazine, I took on the chin, and in good humour, the full-page critique of both myself and Resilience, the magazine I edit. But may I correct some of the mistakes in Rod Liddle's lively but spectacularly inaccurate article ('Don't forget to pack your machine gun', 13 March)?

First, the sneering inference that the magazine is a paid tool of the government. Surrey House's range of security magazines, of which Resilience is but one, are often highly critical of the government's policies. Also, Liddle accuses Resilience of being anti-Arab. Clearly, he did not fully comprehend the article I wrote which castigated Anglo-American policies towards the Middle East, including Palestine. It explicitly criticises the Blair/Bush misunderstanding of Islamic attitudes.

There are other errors of fact (in particular, the magazine is not for sale on newsstands) but above all I would like to offer my condolences for one of the most egregious pieces of journalistic mistiming since 1945. …

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