Friday 21 October 2016

Western powers have learned nothing from history

Published 04/12/2015 | 02:30

UK Prime Minister David Cameron
UK Prime Minister David Cameron

The Westminster political debate on whether to vote in favour or against the bombing of IS targets in Syria makes us consider how history has taught nothing to the major western powers, primarily the USA and Britain.

  • Go To

Under the circumstances, what will soon be happening in Syria is similar to what happened in Cambodia and Vietnam when Nixon ordered the total annihilation of the enemy in these countries, not knowing that not only would he play into the hands of the Khmer Rouge - an insurgence not dissimilar to Isil's - but that he would in the end lose the war.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron's rush to bomb Syria reminds us of Mr Blair's eagerness to join the Americans in the ill-advised invasion of Iraq under false pretences.

Nobody is denying that Isil represents an evil threat that has to be eliminated, nor that national security in European countries is paramountp; but the facts show that the more Isil has been bombed in Syria, the more recruits it has gained -doubling its force from 15,000 to 30,000 fighters.

Besides, military experts keep saying that bombing alone, without putting boots on the ground, will solve nothing and will not contribute to destroying Isil.

Finally, Britain and the USA alike seem to lack the power of imaginative diplomacy.

Whether they like it or not, Syria is a country officially ruled by Assad and his national army. So, if Isil is a common enemy, why have they discounted the option of exploring the possibility of joining forces with him, as the most obvious ally?

Concetto La Malfa

Dublin 4

Tackling loneliness

I read with great interest the article about the elderly woman who died alone in Wexford.

Although this is a very sad situation, loneliness is not something that only affects the elderly.

I'm only 31 and have lived alone most of my adult life, having lost both my parents at a young age. My dad died when I was two and my mam when I was 15 and, with my brother and sisters already married, this left me alone in the family home, which was fine.

At this stage all my friends were single, so we enjoyed going out most nights, holidays five or six times a year, various flings, etc. But I always found it hard to hold down a relationship, whereas my friends all found partners.

So, now in my 30s, although I still see my friends, but not as often, and nights out are now down to once a month or a special occasion .

I don't have confidence to head out alone. So for the first time in my life, I feel lonely - even with great family and friends around me.

My point of writing this letter is that loneliness isn't something that only affects the elderly - it can affect the young as well and, as far as I can see, there are various organisations to tackle this problem with the elderly.

It seems to me there is no such help available for young people and I feel if the loneliness problem was tackled from a younger age, it would not be such a problem in our later years.

Name and address with editor

Lenihan's blueprint

Yes folks, it would seem that judging from the latest noises coming from Government circles we are definitely seeing out the "Bust" and are now heading into the "Boom" of this particular cycle. But caution - don't overindulge, we know where it got us the last time.

Remember, it was members of this particular government who, when in opposition and on hearing, the then FF government had some extra cash, insisted they should spend more.

It's a demand which says a lot about their thinking, but doesn't exactly inspire confidence for the future! So, while Government ministers are busy clapping themselves on the back, I would like to give honourable mention to the late, great Brian Lenihan, whose blueprint for recovery hammered out with the "Troika" was the very platform this Government stood on. Indeed, the path he paved is the same one this Government has followed closely ever since.

Brian Lenihan's courage and bravery in the face of huge odds, both in terms of this country's worsening financial crisis and his deteriorating health, speaks volumes about a man who refused to give up and always put Ireland first.

Brian and the "Troika" handed Ireland a second chance, inserted new financial signposts and handed this new Government a Sat Nav ensuring they stay on the correct fiscal path.

Unfortunately, spending money foolishly trying to buy the next election was not on that 'to do' list. I expect that very same sat nav is now sitting in Leinster House booming out the message loud and clear: "Off route! Off route! Please do a U-turn! Please do a U-turn!!!"

Eugene McGuinness

Bishop Birch Place


Global warming

I don't always see eye to eye with Ian O' Doherty's points of view but I largely agree with his article in the Irish Independent, December 2, about the COP21 conference of world leaders held in Paris.

Anyone who holds views contrary to the populist portrayal and hype about climate change - specifically global warming and CO2 emissions - is almost demonised.

But as Mary Lou McDonnell would say, riddle me this: long before the advent of the motor car, industrialisation or intensive agriculture we had many ice ages and periods of global warming.

For instance, during the Viking period (AD 1000) the earth was experiencing an episode of climate warming higher than that of the present time and during the "Little Ice Age" (1500-1700) the average temperature was two degrees lower than it is at present.

We have been measuring CO2 in the atmosphere for 57 years, an infinitesimally small amount of time in the history of the earth's almost five billion years existence to conclude that human activity is the overwhelming cause of climatic changes.

While not denying that modern human endeavour is increasing CO2 emissions, a far more plausible reason for climate change is related to solar activity, volcanic activity and the ocean currents.

These variants have been around from the very beginning. It may be cold comfort but the facts point to the earth cooling rather than warming in the longer term, as interglacial periods have always been much shorter than the ice ages.

Des Quinn

Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim.

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice