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Europe paying high price of peace dividend

Europe paying high price of peace dividend

Sir, – Your correspondent B. Ferguson (June 6) gave voice to real concerns many of us in this country share.

That is the endless cuts that have left us close to defenceless.

He made the point that Britain and Germany only have 800 tanks between them while across the border, Russia has amassed 15,000.

The old balance of power has been turned on its head.

At the collapse of the former Soviet Union, western nations celebrated with the cash windfall of the peace dividend.

But how we have squandered that surplus money.

The Royal Navy, which terrified the enemy in the last war, is now barely recognisable as the world power it once was.

We are still waiting for an aircraft carrier to come on stream and even then, will we have planes to put on it?

Our last aircraft carrier was hastily decommissioned, together with perfectly good Sea Harriers, to save a few pounds at the start of the last’s government’s term in office.

Then to compound the folly and leave a maritime nation further at risk, we scrapped our Nimrod patrol aircraft.

Not only did we get rid of the old ones but we smashed up the new ones before they could be put into service.

We have one of the largest expanses of sea and ocean of any nation in Europe.

Our wealth is built on trade backed by the security of the navy, yet we take needless gambles, risks like this.

We have made service men and women redundant and taken our tanks out of Germany.

We have slimmed down our permanent armed forces and are relying on territorial forces to fill the gap.

Britain has forgotten how to defend itself and our politicians do not care.

Our narrative is all about austerity and maintaining high levels of benefits.

We are playing dangerous games with our very security while failing to fully scrutinise our benefits culture.

We are importing labour to do jobs Britons refuse to do.

While Britain and Germany have been looking inward in the past two decades, Russia has been quietly rearming.

Her Black Sea fleet alone would dwarf the Royal Navy.

A hugely wealthy European Union of 503 million people should be able to defend itself against a Russia of 192 million people.

It seems that while we have got soft and complacent, Russia has been growing in strength.

Russia would not have dared meddle in Ukraine if Britain, Germany and France had kept their defences up.

We are paying a high price for our self-indulgence over two decades at least.

Robert Stark. Mill Street, Tillicoultry.

Scotland like ancient Rome

Sir, – I watched a very interesting documentary on the television the other night.

The incredible splendour of ancient Rome was totally dependent on the efforts of slave labour.

These unpaid workers were condemned to toil beneath the city, ensuring the wealthy could enjoy the fabulous buildings and hot baths.

It is estimated that around 40% of Rome’s residents were enslaved. What a horrific thought.

Then in The Courier I read that 40% of Dundee’s people are unemployed while we spend millions of pounds on the magnificent waterfront development, a rather unsavoury parallel in my opinion.

It does smack of fiddling while Rome burns.

On a more sombre note, now we have 56 Scottish National party MPs, is it not time to do something about Job Centres which, at a whim, can have families starve or become customers of the ever-growing number of food banks in this country? Can I remind our 56 this is Scotland 2015 not Rome 400 BC.

Bill Duthie. 25 St Fillans Road, Dundee.

Cyclists seek confrontation

Sir, – I share John Phimister’s frustration with modern cyclists (June 4). Some of them seem to want to provoke a confrontation.

They cycle on dual carriageways when cycle paths are available and undertake vehicles at traffic lights.

While this may not be illegal, it is not a wise thing to do, especially in poor light early in the morning.

Then we have the groups of cyclists who ride two or three abreast on country roads. Again, this is not against the law and there may be safety reasons to do so.

But some of these cyclists appear to take a perverse pleasure from hindering traffic.

How often have readers approached a group of cyclists riding single file on a country road, only to see them move to a three-abreast formation as soon as they hear a car engine? Then there are the cyclists who equip their bikes with high-powered headlights.

These dazzle motorists on country roads but cyclists either do not dip or the lamps are designed not to dip.

I cannot understand the arrogance of the Lycra-clad breed of cyclists and I enjoy riding a bike myself.

Richard Fraser. Hospitalfield, Arbroath.

Oxford will be shaken up

Sir, -When I heard that Louise Richardson was to be the next vice-chancellor of Oxford University I stood by the telephone in case the Vatican might call and offer me the papacy.

She recently claimed that Brits are tougher in the face of terror attacks than Americans who “over-reacted” to 9/11, an observation that may make Oxford’s wealthy donors over-react.

Dr Richardson added that education was the best antidote toradicalism as it robs one of “simplification and certitude”, yet ISIS recruits and global warmists are oftengraduates.

Thus Oxford has been given an early warning of her propensity for poking things with a stick, for in St Andrews, she rapidly fell out with alumni, Holyrood and the R & A.

Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

Brave choice for national anthem

Sir, – With reference to correspondence about Flower of Scotland, some may argue it is so far ahead of any other option that it would be certain to be chosen as our official anthem.

It is a fine song but does appear to many as being dreary and anti-English. Surely an anthem should be positive, celebratory and forward thinking and have an uplifting tune.

Supporters of Flower of Scotland should dig out a copy of the first verse and chorus of Scotland the Brave and sing it out loud. It may make them think again.

I Cruickshank. 5 Golf Road, Lundin Links.

Reject Flower of Scotland

Sir, – A national anthem should be stirring, with noble sentiments and a magnificent tune.

Although I have long championed Scots Wha Hae, a tune probably played at Bannockburn but with words by Burns, I now feel the Scottish Government should ask the finest musicians and poets in the country to study the matter carefully then come up with serious proposals.

But to avoid being a laughing stock, Flower of Scotland must be rejected.

David Roche. Hill House, Coupar Angus.

Greens ignore plain facts

Sir, – The Scottish Greens have attacked the Scottish Government over its failure to meet Scotland’s legal obligation on greenhouse gas emissions for the three years 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The 2013 figure, due to be published soon, is widely expected to also fall short of the target.

Alex Salmond, on one of his ego trips, set these targets boasting that: “Scotland has the best CO2 reduction targets in the world”.

Patrick Harvie and the green zealots ignore the facts.

They keep stating “Scotland’s legal obligation” but hide the fact that only Scotland and the UK have legal obligations enshrined in the Climate Change Acts.

No other yes no other country in the world has a legal obligation.

The uncomfortable truth is that Scotland has a paltry 0.15% of greenhouse-gas emissions while the biggest polluter, China, has 23.4% and refuses to cut emissions until after 2030.

Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.

Emma’s courage can help others

Sir, – I warmly congratulate former Grove Academy pupil Emma Lindsay for having the courage to go public and talk about her battle with anorexia (June 4). It is wonderful to hear of someone who has come through this struggle.

The more this pernicious condition can be brought into the open the better, as being able to talk about it helps.

Anorexia is but one manifestation of the pressures that young people are exposed to but is one of the most destructive, as it takes away all semblance of rational thought and logical behaviour and goes against the most fundamental of human instincts, to feed oneself.

Ultimately, most can only recover through their own determination, but those suffering from it are seriously ill and deserve a massive amount of help and support. And too often the impact on the families of these youngsters is ignored or underestimated.

As youngsters hit puberty they become acutely self-conscious about their bodies. That is not new. However, what is relatively new is the increasingly strident obsession with a perfect body, deliberately perpetrated by media and entertainment outlets and this is reflected and amplified exponentially by the pressures of social media, with comments, photographs and trolling a habit among children from an early age.

Starving yourself gives you the illusion of control in a world of conflicting and confusing pressures. Unfortunately, it takes over and the result is complete loss of control.

Anorexia is one of the most dangerous outcomes of this phenomenon. It largely affects girls, but not exclusively.

This dislike, or hatred of self, comes in many forms, such as self-harm, risk-taking behaviour, sexually or otherwise, accessing the darkest sides of the internet, even sometimes the adoption of fake identities online to access or disseminate pornographic or other inappropriate material.

Schools up and down the country are dealing with these issues on a regular basis.

So, well done Emma Lindsay. Your openness and courage have made a contribution to the fight to free our young people from this desperate condition by bringing it out into the open and tackling it head on.

Dr John D Halliday. Rector, High School of Dundee.