Letter: Timor warning

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Surely, given the noble, humanitarian credentials of our courageous leaders, Clinton and Blair, we can expect swift, decisive action over Timor.

Can we expect direct intervention? No. Not unless the Indonesian government requests such assistance. Yet it is the Indonesian army that is directly responsible for the atrocities and it is the army that is effectively the government in Indonesia. And the West seriously expects the Indonesians to ask for help? Further, East Timor cannot be deemed to fall within the jurisdiction of Indonesia, given that Indonesia's annexation of East Timor has never been accepted by the world community.

Well, perhaps the West will at least impose economic and military sanctions? These should prove particularly effective, given Indonesia's dependence on foreign aid. But the answer is no again - the British appear to have already ruled that out.

Unlike the Serbs, the Indonesians are favoured clients. Western companies have made, and continue to make, millions from lucrative arms sales and training contracts. Indeed, Indonesian representatives are due shortly to attend an arms sale in the UK, which our ethical Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, seems unwilling to cancel.

So much for the West's noble humanitarian values.


London SW15