22 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 36

Sheepish Sir Max

From Herb Greer

Sir: Max Hastings (Britain is furious with America', 8 November) cites some curious sources for his gloom about the Americans in Iraq. Newsweek has always belonged to the 'liberal' (i.e., left-of-centre Democrat, therefore anti-Bush) wing of American commentary; its gleeful report about the supposed 'mess' in Iraq is, like all its comment on Republican policy, politically parti-pris. The same can be said for the superannuated Arthur Schlesinger.

Hastings uses a warped quotation from Rumsfeld wrenched out of context to project a meaning that it did not carry. The intelligence community is not 'baffled' about how it 'was made to appear so wrong' about WMDs. The fact that Saddam successfully used bluff and disinformation on this subject has been out in the open for weeks.

As Mark Steyn pointed out in the Daily Telegraph, the British, while bleating about the Americans, have actually reduced troop numbers in the face of 'resistance'. And yet, using vague references about opinion in Iraq, Hastings adds to the bleating and baa-ing by complaining about the Americans having too few troops there. The British, supposedly so much more sophisticated, clever, sensitive and skilful in winning hearts and minds, have taken casualties in Basra, where another attack was followed by the bomb in Nasiriya. So much for the British 'anticipating every misfortune' Out there.

Pace Hastings, the name of the game in Iraq (fortunately) is not to satisfy the British. Nor do fake quotes about everything being tickety-boo in 'five minutes' stimulate much confidence in anything else Hastings has to say.

It is on a level with the BBC's egregious Orla Guerin, who has reported 'huge' (sic) losses among the Americans, and described the low double-figure casualties of the Nasiriya atrocity as 'heavy'.

The schadenfreudish British secondguessing, plus BBC lies fobbed off as reportage, like so much other supercilious British comment on Iraq, especially on the Americans, is, as the French might say, gar-BAZH.

Herb Greer

Salisbury, Wiltshire

From Sir Alistair Home Sir: I wonder if any reader so misguided as to see an utterly revolting film called In the Cut, as I mistakenly did last week, might have thought of Max Hastings's sobering piece on the 'quagmire' America is making in the Middle East; or indeed of Roger Scruton's remarks about the 'astonishing demoralisation . . . of British society' ('The beastly British', 15 November). Because that was really what it was all about.

I can't quite recall on what mistaken advice I went to see it (it has not been reviewed by Mark Steyn). It wasn't the 'sizzling', as advertised, or the sheer dehumanising violence and brutality, or the impoverishment of the language, which would make any army barrack-room sound like Lady Windermere, but the total, joyless debasement of woman.

We walked out. But the good news is that the theatre was less than a quarter full.

One might wonder how In the Cut ever got past the supposedly vigilant British film censor, or for what reason — apart from profit — Hollywood could have made it. My objection to it is not just Tunbridge Wells pomposity but — to return to Max Hastings — what a boon it would be to al-Qa'eda if such a film were ever shown to a Muslim audience. They would find in it every possible confirmation of American decadence, every possible reason for contempt and hatred as preached by the mullahs.

When will Hollywood stop shooting America in the foot?

Alistair Home

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire