Liberal support for Trump’s Syria strikes | Letters

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Protesters demonstrate in New York against the US missile strike in Syria. Backing the attack doesn’t turn liberals into apologists for all of Donald Trump’s policies, says reader Gabriel Osborne. Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

I don’t think Owen Jones (I despair at the liberals now eating out of Trump’s hand, 10 April) understands that not everything in politics has to be ultra-partisan. The “liberals” of whom he so dismissively speaks are not Donald Trump’s “apologists” because they support the US missile strike on Assad’s airfields. In reality it is possible to maintain one’s opposition to Trump and acknowledge that attempting to deter a brutal dictator from using chemical weapons in the future is no bad thing.

It should not be forgotten that President Obama wanted to take action against Assad in 2013 and Hillary Clinton also advocated taking out his airfields in Syria. But Owen Jones seems to think that by supporting one strike we are forgetting all of Trump’s flaws and are now standing fully behind him. We have not forgotten about his appalling policies, including his ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries which contradicts his new position on Syria. How can you expect to help the fleeing civilians if you do not grant them asylum?

Liberal support for Trump’s actions in this case reflects their humanitarian legitimacy. It does not indicate an abandonment of political principle.
Gabriel Osborne
Bristol

• Your report (Halabja attack echoes atrocity against Kurds, 10 April) reminded me of damning evidence that emerged during the Scott arms-to-Iraq inquiry. In 1988, Saddam Hussein ordered his air force to attack the town with chemical weapons, including the nerve agent, sarin.

That year Geoffrey Howe, the foreign secretary, drew up a paper entitled The Economic Consequences of the Peace. There were “major opportunities for British industry”, he said, referring to the prospect of increasing British exports to Iraq at the end of its long war with Iran. But he was worried his plan would be leaked.

“It could look very cynical if so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales,” one of his officials observed. The government’s decision to go ahead, but keep MPs and the public in the dark, was even more cynical, Scott replied.

As Whitehall turned a blind eye to exports to Baghdad of equipment that ministers and officials admitted could be used to produce chemical and nuclear weapons, Howe ordered his paper to be kept under wraps until, in the words of a senior Foreign Office official, the “cloud had passed”.
Richard Norton-Taylor
London

• Matthew d’Ancona’s touching faith in military action as the way to resolve problems in the world (If the US goes to war on Assad, Britain must assist, 10 April) is deeply flawed for two fundamental reasons: firstly, despite his assertion that the alternatives do not work, there are many ways of creating and maintaining a peaceful world which could be developed and used if even a hundredth of the resources we currently lavish on preparing for war were to be used for conflict resolution initiatives; and secondly because, apart from his gut feeling that dropping bombs and killing people is better than doing nothing, he fails to offer any evidence that military action is any better at providing lasting solutions than the non-military initiatives he dismisses so casually.
Mike Garnier
Bristol

• Owen Jones’ article on liberal support for Trump has to be one of his finest. The anger with which he writes lends force to the logic of what he says, which is undeniable. What seems to be coming out in the open now is the narrow space between the majority of Democrats and Republicans. Apart from such individuals as Bernie Sanders and those around him, none of the parties cares about people. They are all caught up in power and cowardice, a very dangerous mix. Only one thing can save America, and possibly the world. And this is ordinary people power backed by courage.
Mora McIntyre
Hove, East Sussex

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