Western interests not only ones that matter in Middle East

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From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

THE power of public opinion leaves Western strategy for the Middle East dominated by the issue of Western casualties.

The savage killing of Western hostages carries more weight than the much greater numbers of locals put to death.

The threat of terrorist acts within Western countries is given disproportionate weight (though stopping jihadists leaving these countries for battlefields where they may be killed seems a poor way of dealing with it). We are quick to back air power but avoid deploying ground forces even when these may be more appropriate.

A consideration we tend to undervalue is that of justice for those on the opposite side of the front line, though this may be a good indicator of how long and difficult the struggle will be and whether opposition will grow or melt away in response to our actions. Those we may neglect include Sunni tribes driven to act as reluctant auxiliaries to IS, communities loyal to Assad (against whom any weapons we supply in Syria are liable to be turned) and those nearby when our bombs fall.

The US has a track record going back to Vietnam of glossing over the shortcomings of its protégés, of failing to drive a hard enough bargain for its support of them and not focusing on what is crucial in that bargain. As prestige becomes invested in the client’s cause the required influence over them is lost. Western leaders have the weakness of needing to be seen to lead and of playing to an audience which has only the most superficial understanding of the situation.

From: Jack Duckworth, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Regarding the ISIS situation in Syria and Iraq, and whether the UK should get involved militarily, normally I am a pacifist but in view of the abhorrent and cruel actions of these so-called Muslims I fully support such action. I am also very well pleased with the many expressions of condemnation that have come from Muslims in the UK. This can only bode well for the future and I thank them for their contributions.

From: Iain Morris, Caroline Street, Saltaire, Shipley.

JUST what sort of religious man is it that is able to cut off the heads of three captives who are not in any position to do him any harm? One is left to wonder at what holy book he has been studying that he thinks sanctions his behaviour in this day and age.