Miliband interview

David Miliband (Inside track, 21 January) sets out what he calls his four "great progressive causes". He talks as though he is running a powerhouse with the ability to change the world. He isn't. These are all causes on which the UK can do little, if anything, alone.

The approach to terrorism won't work, because it relies on heavy-handed, illiberal policies. Nothing will work without a change in US Middle East policy. The United States needs to push, alongside the European Union and the United Nations, for political reform in the region, but it won't - partly because of Israel, and partly because of the interdependence between them and the rulers of Middle Eastern states.

Miliband repeatedly uses the word "trying". International attempts to try to solve the cruelty of Darfur clearly aren't working.

The UK remains a middle-level European country, with no great clout. We could, however, start speaking out, developing what Gordon Brown did ahead of Robert Mugabe's visit to Europe, taking a more even-handed approach to injustice. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has received the Dalai Lama, and also talked to Beijing about human rights. The UK government could restart an ethical foreign policy by boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games unless the Chinese government uses its influence with the Burmese junta.

If there is real will on the part of our government to change things, we could have some effect on world events. But I predict that we will see more of the same.

A Rothschild

London NW3

Here we go again. David Miliband states that the aim of the Iraq war was "to free the Iraqi people from a tyranny". No, it was not. Tony Blair said on many occasions that if Saddam Hussein disarmed, he could stay in power.

D A Rainbird

Wallasey, Cheshire

The aim of the war, as announced by Tony Blair, was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. Is this government now admitting that it lied to us then, or is David Miliband just rewriting history - in the style of Nineteen Eighty-Four?

David Scruby

Shawforth, Lancashire

I have just returned from two months in one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal, where a vicious, 11-year civil war has juddered to an uneasy halt, where women were murdered and violated just as they were as a strategy of war in the Balkans, in East Timor and elsewhere. I therefore read the David Miliband interview with anticipation: new Foreign Secretary, renewed government, new opportunities to enable women to make some sense of this beleaguered world. Did the word "women" appear once in this reflective interview, in which he laid out his wares? It did not.

Tim Symonds

Burwash, East Sussex

If the aim really had been to rid the Iraqi people of a tyrant, would that have been, as Miliband says, "a progressive thing"? It would have been if the UN had authorised it, but not if undertaken by individual countries acting on their own initiative. The UN is a very imperfect institution, but world peace can be achieved only by working through it and building it up. Actions that weaken the UN's authority are not progressive.

Stephen Plowden

London NW1

Miliband claims that "how you reconcile a belief in markets with a belief in social order" is a "crisis of Conservatism". While there is undoubtedly a philosophical conflict between free markets (neoliberalism) and social order and justice, there is no such conflict, as Miliband claims, between markets, per se, and social order. His "progressive" solution to the problem of inequality - "low-carbon, high-growth economic aid and development" - is no such thing.

David Clarke

London N4

"Focus on your own team . . . and let the opposition take care of themselves." David Miliband may support Arsenal, yet this approach reached its apotheosis not under Arsène Wenger, but under Brian Clough. In fact, Wenger helped usher in the Premiership era of the more meticulous, technically minded coach. Clough, for all his brilliance, was made to look hopelessly out of date.

Tom Brooks Pollock

London N4

Just recently Google has brought out with a great deal of alterations and improvements to their prominent search system, including Googles Knowledge Graph Release. Read More...

This article first appeared in the 28 January 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Merchant adventurer