Letter: Troops no answer

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The Independent Culture

Troops no answer

Sir: In 1939 my regiment was engaged on peacekeeping duties in Palestine under the League of Nations mandate. On the very first day a bomb was thrown at them. The next day the regiment suffered its first casualty. Palestine was in a state of civil war between Arabs and Jews.

From 1940 to 1945 the regiment was engaged in North Africa, Italy, Normandy and Holland but in 1946 they returned to peacekeeping duties in Palestine. Once again they were attacked by terrorists on both sides, including the Stern Gang.

In 1948 the Labour government had had enough and British troops were withdrawn from Palestine. There is still no peace there and the thousands of Palestinian refugees are still refugees.

Since 1968 my old regiment has carried out several peacekeeping tours in Northern Ireland, and suffered casualties. All military and political opinion came to the conclusion that the IRA could not be defeated by armed force. Negotiation was, and is, the only option. And the IRA still has its arms and explosives.

Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia. To expect the Serbs to give up Kosovo is like expecting the IRA to give up Ireland or the Jews to give up Jerusalem. Kosovo is ideal guerrilla country. It would make south Armagh look like a picnic.

Even if a peacekeeping force enters Serbian territory that will only be the beginning not the end. Negotiation is the only option.


London SE21