Letter: Nato on trial

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Nato on trial

Sir: Anne McElvoy (Comment, 12 May) seeks to clear the Prime Minister of blame for the lapses of judgement which have dogged the Nato campaign in Kosovo.

Mr Blair may have shifted his stance on ground intervention rather more nimbly than other Nato leaders, but this should not obscure the fact that he got it all wrong in the first place. He, no less than President Clinton, bought into the idea that an air assault would produce rapid results. He, too, was quick to tell the world that a ground intervention was neither a necessary nor a realistic option for Nato.

A negotiation, particularly with a psychotic bully, requires the ruthless skills of the poker player. It is all about what the other party believes you might do, not about what you actually intend to do. Ernest Bevin, in his dealings with Molotov and Stalin after the Second World War, displayed these qualities in abundance.

Clearly, Fettes, Oxford and the Bar have not equipped Mr Blair to follow that example. Giving up the only real ace in our hand (the threat of ground- based interven-tion) from day one, was a monumental error.

We should not let politicians and commentators who have only recently woken up to these truths reinvent history .


London W4