Letter: Just and unjust war

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The common factor in Russia's bombing of Chechnya and Nato's bombing of Serbia is the dropping of bombs. The differentiating factor is the moral one. If Mark Steele ("Spot the difference between Yeltsin and Milosevic", 23 November) really can't see the difference between an armed campaign designed to impose oppression and an armed campaign to free from oppression then I'm sorry for him.

He is being disingenuous in claiming to think there's some moral ambiguity in bombing Slobo but not thumping Yeltsin. In deciding whether war may justly be waged, considerations such as chance of success and disastrous outcomes have to be weighed. Because the potential for worldwide catastrophe meant that a just war could not be waged against China over Tibet or against the USSR in Cold War days does not at all mean that a just war may be not waged against other opponents.

The war against Serbia was just and had a just outcome (though of course at dreadful cost). As for the "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs from Kosovo (and where on earth did Steel get this bizarre figure of only 200 remaining Serbs?), I would imagine that the reaction of anyone not a professional bleeding-heart is that a population that gladly acquiesced in the oppression its neighbours jolly well asked for it.

MALCOLM JACKSON

London SE22

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