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Syria: realism of UK non-intervention

by
13 September 2013

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From the Revd Andrew Sweeney
Sir, - The recent parliamentary vote on action against the Syrian regime, and the evident public distaste for military engagement abroad, raise the possibility of reflection on the UK's present and future part in global politics.

Rather than despair at the idea that Britain is no longer "punching above its weight", I wonder whether there is hope that this stance represents a new realism, that the world can no longer be managed by the old Powers using the existing political-military model.

Dare we hope that Britain might lead the way into discussion of alternatives in international relations, perhaps focusing on the need for a new, effective, neutral body of international peacemakers, free of the vested interests that keep the UN from functioning successfully in this regard?

If only there were an institution or community that believed in the ultimate victory of love and hope, and the possibility of peace, justice, and mercy for all nations and people, and that rejected the transitory and illusorypowers of strength through economic exploitation and retaliatory violence; and if only such a community were able and willing to speak with a prophetic voice!

Perhaps such a community would gain the respect of the public and a degree of influence over the political process. Might the prayers of the Church of England be usefully employed so that such a community may arise in the not-too-distant future?

ANDREW SWEENEY
49 Voltaire Road
London SW4 6DD


From Canon John Tibbs
Sir, - Your report "Syria: 'No clear right answer' as West ponders its response" tells us that "the Government has committed £348 million to help those affected by the conflict in Syria. This represents the UK's largest-ever response to a humanitarian crisis" ( News, 6 September).

Are we expected to applaud this? Or perhaps we can imagine how little we taxpayers are helping those caught up in this conflict, compared with the cost of the wars in which our forces have been involved for many years.

Our Government will not now take part in military action, somight best help Syria by supporting the countries to whichthe refugees have fled.

We could afford it: we would be taking the better and the cheaper option.

JOHN TIBBS
19 Adelaide Square
Bedford MK40 2RN

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