Letter: After Saddam

Sir: George Robertson, the Secretary of State for Defence, speaking about the arrival in the Gulf next month of the aircraft-carrier HMS Invincible said: "It is a big signal: we are not going away." You report that the "floating fortress" can mount air and land attacks, and carries up to 24 aircraft and a crew of 1,200 ("Blair sends carrier to the Gulf", 21 December).

And George Orwell said, in 1984: "In a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea-lanes.

"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials, which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population."

Could Mr Blair have been warning us about Mr Blair?

WILLIAM F LONG

Loughton, Essex

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