USA World News

Biden and Johnson could learn a lot from JFK and Harold Macmillan about a cross-Atlantic partnership

The probable relationship looks to be in sharp contrast to that established 60 years ago between the last Irish American Catholic president with a Conservative prime minister. John F Kennedy and Harold Macmillan were, like Biden and Johnson, from different generations. But helped by common family links (marriages into the Cavendish aristocracy), JFK’s pre-war education in London, and Macmillan’s shrewd appointment of an old Kennedy friend, David Ormsby-Gore, as Washington ambassador, these links evolved into perhaps the strongest cross-Atlantic partnership seen since the time of Churchill and Roosevelt.

While Kennedy could visit Dublin and London in the summer of 1963 without discomforting either government, could a Biden visit to Dublin, as it celebrates the centenary of the founding of the Irish State next year, be as welcome to a British prime minister still floundering with the consequences of a no-deal, threats over the Good Friday Agreement and another member of the UK’s union wanting to opt out?

Paul Dolan

Unrealistic goals in Armenia 

Yet there was in the history of Armenia a somewhat reasonable stance by the country’s former president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who warned against unrealistic goals, arguing that declaring not a single inch of Karabakh will be given away would have made him the idol of Armenian nationalists, but would also have taken Armenia straight into the abyss.

Neither Azerbaijan, nor Turkey, nor Russia, nor the UN, nor Nato is to be blamed. Rather, the responsibility for the recent war and its consequences lies squarely on the political-military leadership of Armenia. The events of the last days show clearly that this policy of aggression has no future in the modern world.

Tahir Taghizadeh

Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan

School support

In Lincolnshire, 56 maintained schools claimed a total of £233,000 out of a possible £1.5m (around 15 per cent). It leaves the question: what happened to the other £1.2m? And why can’t schools claim it now?

Andy Canadine

Name and address supplied

Muddying the waters

Polluted rivers and lakes have for far too long been allowed to remain a threat to public health.

In addition to proposed eye-watering financial penalties, polluting companies should face government-subsidised class actions on behalf of victims harmed by contamination with toxic waste, and robustly enforced criminal prosecutions for pumping raw sewage into rivers.

Trevor Lyttleton MBE

London NW11 

Rules must apply, even with news of a vaccine

What on earth do they think they are doing? It beggars belief that people who gather in large groups will not be affected by Covid-19 and then infect others. In the absence of any other method of reducing the infection rate, we have to isolate, use face coverings, wash our hands regularly and stay apart. It makes sense not only to safeguard ourselves but our family, friends, etc.

In my view I believe we have found the tunnel. All we need now is the light to be switched on. Science will finally defeat the virus, as polio, smallpox, etc have been, but only if we do our bit, which is to adhere to the rules.

Keith Poole

Basingstoke

Sovereignty in the 21st century

The good news is that Michel Barnier is still in London to leave the door open for our reluctant negotiators to find a deal. The bad news is that David Frost, Michael Gove and the rest are still going on about “respecting UK sovereignty”. What they don’t understand is that sovereignty in the interconnected world of 21st century partnerships is not the same as it was in the 19th century when half the world map was coloured pink.

They may hate the idea of the ECJ, but because of our continuing membership of other organisations, we will have no greater “sovereignty”. The UN, WTO, WHO, Nato and others all require concessions in exchange for the benefits and influence gained from membership, and the EU is the same; we benefited handsomely for 47 years from it. Meanwhile for 70 years, US service personnel have been stationed in the UK subject only to their own laws; I’m sure Harry Dunn’s parents have a view on the integrity of UK sovereignty in this matter.

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It is critical that Johnson finds some way out of this mess. Sovereignty is worth nothing without global credibility, so he must accept the Lords’ verdict (‘Boris Johnson on Brexit collision course with Joe Biden after House of Lords defeat’, 9 November) and abandon his attempt to overrule the withdrawal agreement. That will then allow an agreement on the flow of goods and services between UK and our biggest trading partner without new mountains of red tape and cost for zero added value over imports and exports. It might also head off considerations of longer-term strategic relocations of jobs and skills out of the UK and back into the EU.

For “Global Britain” to have a chance it must have a smooth and efficient trade deal with its biggest trading partner, and it needs it now.

Charles Wood

Birmingham