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Extremism: a conversation worth having

Is Stan Labovitch ("Be careful not to 'explain' terrorism", Letters, 7 June) really incapable of distinguishing between attempts to gauge motives for terrorist acts and efforts to condone or justify those acts? This is a fairly elementary distinction and also a critical one, because without some grasp of perpetrators' motives, it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to effectively anticipate, deter or prevent such atrocities.

As for the "leftist anti-Western agenda" he claims to detect in attempts to relate terrorist acts to British and US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems that the UK security services must themselves share such an agenda, since they are on record as making that link. What precisely is an "anti-Western agenda"? Might it mean criticism of governments that have flouted international law in their attacks on sovereign states, or support for the millions of Western citizens who have campaigned against these policies? In fact, as the late US senator Joseph McCarthy understood very well, if acted on, such a fatuous comment would simply outlaw discussion or criticism of the policies of Western governments. And that, of course, is the intention.

Tony Dennis, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

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