Letter: Threat to Nato

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Last week's agreement between the Prime Minister and President Chirac to form a rapid reaction force ready to move into action in an emergency is more of a French initiative than a British one. It also kicked America in the teeth for its reluctant intervention in the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. Despite Nato's preparedness in the defence of Europe and its unequivocal commitment to it, America prevaricated and the Europeans were in disarray during the Balkan crises.

The Anglo-French defence entente will clearly affect Nato in the long run. Such an alliance between the UK and France, especially when the latter has been the most lukewarm member of Nato, will harm the treaty.

France has resented American domination in the European security matters in the post-war years. France and UK have not been reliable partners in defence and foreign policy before and after the Second World War. The UK has been an active member of Nato and a staunch ally of the US. France sees no long-term American role in Europe. This Anglo-French venture in European defence is bound to raise suspicion in President Clinton's mind, however much he may offer apparent support.

The plan will also undermine the UN's peace-keeping role. Who will authorise the use of the intervention force, and what legitimacy will it have? The leading European countries may consider an intervention in a conflict is necessary; such moves may not necessarily have UN support.

Dr F H CHOWDHURY

Hickling, Nottinghamshire

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