Dear Mr Putin

As I am a citizen of a Western democracy I can express the opinion that you are right and our Prime Minister is wrong as regards Syria, without risking any official retribution.

Our politicians seem reluctant to face the obvious fact that if there ever was any real difference between the original ’rebels’ against Assad and the zealots of ISIS, they have certainly become mixed up together in the resultant chaos. It is no longer really possible to distinguish the one from the other, or to avoid killing both if either is to be overcome.

Personally, I never subscribed to the apparent conviction of some of our politicians – William Hague for example – who seemed convinced for reasons never quite explained that the ‘rebels’ were good and Assad very bad. A similar naivete characterized their plans in Iraq. Western politicians thought Saddam Hussein very bad, and they were right. But they were not right to assume that removing him would be to give place to anything better. It did not. What followed has been worse. Also. he was only one man; he could only kill and torture a limited number at a time, whereas the UK alone killed more than 10,000 civilians during their ‘rescue’ missions under Blair and Bush.

Like Saddam Hussein, Assad ruled by fear. With the example of Iraq in the recent past, how canwestern politicians base their actions on the assumption thatidentical qualities of brutality and cruelty would not emerge among Assad’s ‘victims’ (and rebels)once they had the opportunity? So far Assad’s removal has only cleared the pitch for men just as bad, or worse.

Take the example of your own country. The population which supported the unrestrained tyranny of the Tzars subsequently supported the tyranny of Stalin with just as much enthusiasm. We are told that Stalin’s harshness toward the subject people of Communist Russia was even worse than that of any Tsar.

To return to Syria – the unspeakable rivalries of Al Qaeda, ISIS and secular Muslims and their ruthless predations on the non-combatants of their own fellow countrymen offer no hope of peace. But Assad may be capable of restoring law and order. He did it before. Perhaps with help and advice he may do it again, but with a measure of moderation. You yourself are surely an example of this.