Your analysis of the US tragedy was wholly devoid of human kindness

So the Americans had it coming to them because, as you declare in your editorial, "American values too easily come over as shallow and hypocritical".

And what values are those, exactly? A plural society? Respect for the individual? Freedom of expression? Freedom of religion? Equal opportunity? The rule of law? If these concepts have "signally failed to inspire the Third World young", why are these very people, as you also point out, flocking to live in the west? Might it be because only in societies that foster such values do they have any chance of improving themselves?

And even on so terrible an occasion, you cannot resist the regulation cheap dig at Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, suggesting that they and others in America's "small band of disciples" are the only people truly inspired by the US. To them, you might add nearly everyone who has ever visited the country and seen a truly free - if obviously flawed - society in action, as well as the millions who have been expressing their sympathy so genuinely all over the world.

Michael Leapman
London SW8

Had I wished, last week, to buy the Palestine Liberation Organisation fanzine - you know, the one with guest editor David Spart and printed in a cave outside Kabul - then I would have done so. As it was, I was forced, much against my will, to spend far too long in contemplation both of your shame and your lack of it.

Carol Sarler
London N4

I hardly think of myself as a "USA right or wrong" sort of person. And I have long admired the New Statesman for its independence of opinion. But the tone of your latest issue made me sick and ashamed. Not all values are relative. Not all means to ends can be condoned as "understandable".

Professor Catherine Jones Finer
University of Birmingham and St Antony's College, Oxford

Your leader has managed to cross the borderline from merely nauseating to genuinely obscene. The clear implication is that it is entirely justifiable for 5,000 people to be murdered just because there is a Republican in the White House. Most people in New York would not have voted for him anyway - but hey, they still deserved it. How apt that you should end with a drivelling quotation from Bertolt Brecht, Stalinist toady and apologist for mass murderers.

Michael Schachter
London NW6

In the midst of a grim and disturbing week, the NS rose to the occasion. The good sense and vision in your leader and John Lloyd's article were exactly right. The attacks on the innocent in Washington and New York have made the priority of an unremitting global commitment to social, economic and political justice and to effective humanitarianism more essential than ever.

The tragedy at the end of the 20th century was that we were too easily settling for managing what we could materially have, rather than struggling for what we could be. Intellectualism, decency, compassion, reason, service and selflessness were increasingly out of fashion. Quantity had eclipsed quality. Greed, short-termism and soundbites had prevailed.

Those responsible for more than 5,000 terrifying and agonising deaths should be brought to justice. But that has to be done in the context of a transparent and powerful determination on our part to do everything possible to protect the innocent and to root out the injustice and suffering that provide the breeding grounds for extremists and fanatics.

Lord Judd
House of Lords, London SW1

The origins of contemporary world terrorist activities do not lie in the Middle East conflict, nor even in oil power, but in the fact that we now inhabit a world "in which there is only one superpower", as you emphasise.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and communism as a world ideology has left a huge ideological (and even a spiritual) vacuum in global affairs. In the absence of an ideological alternative to market capitalism, now being pushed to its global limits, the impoverished, the deprived and the powerless have been moving increasingly towards a tribal terrorism whose objective is the blind destruction of capitalism.

There is now no superpower able to offer an ideological rationale to this protest. A Gorbachev-era Soviet Union might well have been capable of this; but that is history. China is not yet in that slot. But Europe could be if there was any coherence to the real option: democratic socialism. It is absolutely vital - indeed, even in the interests of the United States - that there be a bipolar ideological choice, so that generations, especially the young, do not continue to cry out in despair and even resort to terrorism.

Geoffrey Goodman
London NW7

As one who deeply loves the best of things that come from America, not least its people, I write in congratulation of the brilliant and courageous perspective you gave to the tragic events in the US on 11 September. Where others blurted words of belligerent inappropriateness in the face of this devastation, you showed an extraordinary determination to set out its causes and a plurality of viewpoints. You signpost an urgent and civilised way forward to ensure that such barbarous acts, on all sides, motivated by hatred and incomprehension, may not happen again. In this, you show yourselves to be the best kind of friend to the American people and to democracy.

Ian Flintoff
London SW6

What a comfort to read your edition "In the name of God". Thank you for such enlightened articles casting a more sane light on events than hitherto. If you can in any way guide events to stop a hysterical response by the US military, I would be glad.

Helene R Perrin-Summers
Nailsworth, Gloucestershire

This article first appeared in the 24 September 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The war that Bush cannot win