Those calling for the bombing of Syria as punishment for the use of chemical weapons in the country seem to think that Western missiles will make the place safer for its millions of civilians. Talk of brief military interventions, before weapons inspectors get a chance to report, sends chilling reminders of how leaders lied and rushed their way to war against Iraq, with catastrophic results that will continue for decades.
International action is indeed called for, but adding more firepower into the chaotic and hate-filled mix is the most counter-productive and foolish type of action that could be inflicted on the people of Syria.
The country needs less violence, not more. It is to be hoped that when Australia assumes presidency of the UN Security Council this weekend, we will uphold the primary purpose of the UN as set out in its charter, ''to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war'', and not hideously twist the role into subservience to the various warmongers who clutter up the council with their own agendas.
Stopping weapons flows to all sides, including the jihadist rebels whom the US is so keen to support, would be a good start.
Sue Wareham, vice-president, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
As former president Jimmy Carter recently stated, ''America has no functioning democracy. It has a police state in which the executive branch has placed itself above all law and the constitution''. This police state is now going to commit yet another Nazi-style war crime of unprovoked aggression on fabricated charges. At Nuremberg the Nazis were sentenced to death for precisely the identical actions being planned by Obama, Cameron, and Hollande and they are relying on might, not right, to keep them out of the international criminal court. Let us trust that Russia can act as a brake.
Rex Williams, Ainslie
For the first time in many years, I have some reason to feel proud of the country of my birth and can look on its flag without seeing a bloody butcher's apron. The narrow vote in the House of Commons to prevent the use of British forces in the planned criminal aggression against Syria on the basis of the usual pack of lies may just possibly have delayed, if not halted the march of folly towards World War III.
Quite a kick in the teeth, I would say, for the likes of Kevin Rudd, Gareth Evans, Tony Blair, Murdoch and the whole gang of R2P liberal imperialists and Zionists. Now, apart from his French poodle, Obama stands alone.
Bernard Davis, O'Connor
No social justice
In many of the recent polls that have asked voters to nominate the issues most important to them, my choice has been conspicuously absent: social justice. The Labor Party has traditionally been identified with social justice issues, and the current Parliament has provided some ground-breaking improvements in education and disability services. Sadly, in the current election campaign Labor has descended into promoting cynical and ''pragmatic'' vote-buying policies instead of emphasising its progressive social achievements of the kind that are never priorities for conservative governments.
For the Coalition parties, the issue of social justice has rarely ever been on the radar; at best their attitude has historically been one of ''we will think about that when the economy is perfect and we can afford it.''
Given that most business interests believe there can never be enough profit and that wages and taxes on business are always too high, the economy can never be healthy enough for conservative politicians to commit to increased spending on sectors that aren't ''productive''.
The only major party that has social justice as a priority is the Greens; their voice needs to be heard in the Senate where unfettered control by either of the two larger parties would not be good for Australia's future.
Steve Ellis, Hackett
Rudd's last hurrah
A few days ago it was a ghost train roaring through the southern highlands, and now it is a ghost fleet setting sail for Brisbane that Kevin Rudd also commands. No doubt he's not finished with blue sky ideas. Be prepared for the Mars mission.
At such announcements, all Rudd's lieutenants seem to stare intently at the back of the PM's neck. What are they thinking? That's probably complicated, and possibly bloodletting might come into it, but one thought of several lieutenants is probably of where they will sit in the pecking order when the last Labor bunker is overrun.
Roy Darling, Florey
Recently a western Sydney constituent sought a guarantee from both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (at the televised debate at Rooty Hill) that pre-election promises be fulfilled. Despite both leaders reassuring that such promises would hold firm, what a shame that this same constituent did not insist that such guarantees be matched by an invitation to the Australian people to vote again should any such promises be broken.
Greg Simmons, Lyons
Has there ever been an election campaign that can best be characterised on both sides as ''We're not as bad as the other lot?''
The contradictions are everywhere. Apparently surpluses aren't in labor's DNA, yet Treasurer Keating delivered a few. Menzies, founder of the Liberal Party, achieved precisely none in a 17-year run. Que?
Labor is not exactly covering itself in glory either. Rudd's tax concessions proposal for the NT!? Well the Nats rolled out a $1 billion pork barrel, the National Stronger Regions Fund (and that is their DNA). At least it benefits all Australian regions. Not just Territorians, whose presence, I would hazard, is no longer needed to fend off threats from the north.
Territorians who should be up and taking advantage of the markets in that region, unsubsidised.
As for leaders, Rudd stated that Abbott didn't have the temperament to be PM, pot and kettle said Pyne. Most Commonwealth public servants would have been rolling in the aisles whichever of the party leaders said it. It is a fact that current tax settings in Australia can only lead to what Mr Micawber would describe as misery.
Until both parties accept that changes will mean losers in the short term for a benefit in the long term, it won't get any better.
But perhaps it is not their fault. Can we learn to forgo instant gratification for long-term gain? Or is the commercial break just too long?
Peter Edsor, Bungendore, NSW
Desmond Manderson (''Stop the boats? Change tack'', Times2, August 27, p4) has the right principles but offers no practical program for Australia. Ross Muir (''Darwin set to come of age as front door to Asia'', Times2, August 26, p5) provides the solution.
To stop the boats (and undermine people smugglers), Australia should arrange with Malaysia and Indonesia to fly all potential asylum seekers direct from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to Darwin. No more drownings at sea.
In Darwin build new suburbs, just like here in Canberra, but without McMansions, for the people on temporary visas while they have their refugee status determined. These people will work in the building, infrastructure and commercial trades, as Muir outlined, and run small businesses to service their communities. They will pay rent for their housing. They will not ''take jobs away from Australians'' but will develop Darwin into the major city that the top end needs.
Of course, Australia will determine, once an asylum seeker has been found to be or not to be a refugee, whether they may be returned, required to go to a third country, or offered permanent residency here.
This arrangement is safe, humane and gives refugees the positive hope they need after escaping from terrible situations in their countries of origin. We get the benefit of investing in the future of Darwin, and in time, of northern Australia as a whole.
This proposition should be attractive to the Greens, Katter, Palmer and both the ALP and the LNP. Not only is it humane, it's far cheaper to fly people here than to have Navy ships try to rescue them as they founder. It's cheaper than building and maintaining detention centres.
It's economically a winner, not a loser in the long term.
Anyway, that's what I think.
Frank McKone, Holt
Gary Humphries' term as a Senator representing the ACT will end on election day. He will have been one of our representatives in the Senate for 12 years - four terms.
As a Canberran who supports the other side of politics, I wish to record my appreciation of the sterling job Gary has done in representing the interests of the residents of the ACT, from whatever side of politics they come. On several occasions Gary has crossed the floor and voted against the Coalition, to support the wishes and views of ACT residents, or of their elected government. Well done Gary.
I only hope that whoever replaces him remembers their wider obligations to the residents of the ACT, as Gary did.
Maurice Sexton, Duffy
Get real, ABC
Has ABC Canberra TV news gone completely bogan? On Thursday night, with Australia only days away from a federal election, the world on the verge of a war in Syria, and events marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King's ''I have a dream'' speech, ABC Canberra news led with not just one, but two stories on naughty boy Raiders players.
What sort of values does the ABC think we have here?
Also, for some time, newsreader Virginia Haussegger has been waxing lyrical about all the above-average temperatures we are experiencing. She seems to think that all these harbingers of climate change are actually desirable. When is Ms Haussegger going to adopt a serious attitude to the most serious issue confronting Australia and the world?
Matthew Higgins, Ainslie
TO THE POINT ...
Greg O'Regan's criticism of the Australian Electoral Commission (''Off-colour'', Letters, August 29) for using green-coloured ballot papers is misplaced. It is not the commission at fault, as the colour of Senate and House of Representative ballot papers is specified in section 209 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Norm Kelly, Hataitai, New Zealand
BUILDING UP ENERGY
Concerned about wind turbines or a solar farm? See the video item from The Colbert Report. Easily found by internet search: Colbert+wind+turbine.
Peter Campbell, Cook
ATM TOO TEMPTING
If clubs were seriously trying to help their problem gamblers, they would remove ATM machines intended to entice ever-hopeful mugs by drawing on their bank accounts. The ATMs are usually in close proximity to poker machines. A bit like having a bottle shop next to a refuge for alcoholics.
Ray Aitchison, Waramanga
I remind the sub-editor who wrote the heading for the editorial (''Our bins runneth over'', Times 2, August 28, p2) that ''runneth'' is a singular verb, and doesn't go with a plural noun such as ''bins''.
Beryl Richards, Curtin
EVERYONE'S A WINNER
What a wonderful story about Peter Rosini and Homeshare (''New world opens for live-in mates'', August 29, p9).
As part of Peter's love of acting, he recently co-starred in the video production of Beautiful, a story of love and acceptance made in Canberra by people with and without disabilities. Available on DVD, the film was made in collaboration with award-winning director Genevieve Clay and is truly an uplifting and heart-warming experience to view.
Paul Jones, Curtin