International speculation on the possibility of
an end to the war between Nato and the Serbs
THE WAR is imperceptibly changing its nature. After six weeks of bombing, the Allies, dismayed by the resolve of their adversary, are thinking less and less about total war. A conquest of Kosovo by Nato troops no longer appears to be the order of the day. Attention is focused on the carousel of diplomats and emissaries from all sides rather than on the bombers. This evolution demonstrates that the negotiated solution, which was put aside in the hope of a Yugoslav capitulation, appears to be possible again. For many Westerners, however, just the idea of negotiating with Milosevic appears politically dangerous. But even if Milosevic claims victory, we must remember that this is Kosovo's war. It began because of Kosovo; it can only end for Kosovo.
THE FLEEING Kosovars tell of villages burned down and farms destroyed. Where, then, are the refugees in camps close to the border supposed to return to once the war ends? There's not only a moral imperative to offer the fleeing Kosovars a generous welcome in Europe but also a social duty to care for the people for whom we are waging war. What happens to the refugees will show how seriously the West believes its ideals.
THE OBJECTIVE of Nato's mission in Yugoslavia was not defined at the beginning but has evolved with the development of events. Up until the Rambouillet talks, the scope of the military deployment was to stop violence in Kosovo. Milosevic was not a target during the first month of the war, as the military pressure was aimed at his surrender, not at destroying his regime. More recently, Nato has been wondering whether it should take a third step, aiming at the fall of Milosevic. Punishing Milosevic is necessary to dissuade others from following the same path of violent nationalism. Only this strictly political point would be a motive. On to that political foundation can be added good economic motives. The future development of the area would be jeopardised if Milosevic were to stay in power after the conflict ends. Fearing fresh instability, investors wouldn't spend money on rebuilding Serbia. But the essential condition for achieving a positive outcome is to remove Milosevic.
WHATEVER THE uneasiness of the American people at the deepening US involvement in a war in which air power has so far failed in its first objective, there is no quick exit for the United States. For one thing, the commitment of its European allies to seeing the war through makes it very difficult now for the Untied States to retreat into isolationism. Whatever the domestic opposition to a prolonged war, President Clinton's administration is right to warn - not only President Milosevic but also the American people - that the war will continue for a long time to come, if necessary.
CONGRESS IS doing its job when it challenges the administration with vigorous debate on the US role in bombing campaigns and sending in ground troops. The messages from Congress are not clear, which makes discussion all the more important. Because of the ambiguous nature of this conflict, convictions are not yet set in stone. In the earliest moments of Nato's response to the bloodshed and ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars, Congress wisely followed Clinton's lead. As prospects loom for a wider conflict involving ground troops, it is just as appropriate for Congress to demand more information and more consultation from the White House.
Reading the Scottish runes
ALEX SALMOND'S leadership will probably survive this result. His party has not achieved breakthrough, it failed to capture key target constituencies such as Glasgow Govan, but it has won votes which backed Labour in 1997 and appears to have performed more creditably than it has because Labour has fallen well short of an overall majority. It is a barely tolerable performance for the nationalists, but still one which Mr Salmond can use to advance his cause. He has the parliamentary skills to exploit a cautious, hesitant start by our new administration. It will be easy to fill any gap left by a paucity of new policy ideas by ratcheting up the campaign for independence.
MR DEWAR should be awarded the credit for shifting public opinion in his own favour. In the end, Labour's rather cautious approach - on constitutional powers and taxation levels - seemed to be shared by the electorate. An evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach appears to have met the national sentiment of the moment. Mr Dewar has, though, obtained votes by exposing the incoherence of SNP promises rather than by promoting positive and distinctive positions for his party. His task now, complicated by the dubious rituals of coalition politics, is to prove that he can be both "New" and "Scottish" Labour in office.
THE SCOTTISH and Welsh elections - Britain's first experiment with proportional representation - proved baffling to many voters. Despite a pounds 2.5m advertising campaign, there was confusion about the additional member system used. Voters north of the border had two ballot papers for the Parliament elections. On one they voted for a candidate and on the other for a party. They also had a third ballot paper for the local elections, which were fought under the old first-past-the-post system. If Mr Blair is to extend PR to local and, eventually, national elections, he must learn some of the lessons from these polls and ensure that the new systems give voters more, not less, power - and that they understand how they work.
DEMOCRACY IS all very well, but many Scots are now turning to the real question about the new Scottish Parliament: is there any money in it? The results of the election came too late for this week's Economist. But regardless of who wins, shopkeepers in Edinburgh are hoping for a post-parliamentary boom. Extensive research in America, Europe and Japan has found that most people do seem to think, to varying degrees, that the Scots are honest and independent-minded. The job now is to persuade people that they are buying these qualities when they purchase Scottish- made goods and services - and to banish unhelpful images such as drunkenness, violence, sectarianism and militancy.
BLAIR HAS presided over a dramatically better result for the union than feared a few months ago. He argued that devolution for Scotland and Wales was essential and, more controversially, that this could deflect rather than accelerate the threat of Scottish independence. It is far too soon to be confident how Scottish politics will evolve with the new Edinburgh Parliament, but the PM has every reason to congratulate himself on the result. It holds out the real hope that devolution could strengthen rather than weaken the union.
DURING THE 300 years since the Act of Union, Englishness and Scottishness have comfortably accommodated a shared "British" identity. The Scottish Parliament which will convene at Holyrood is an expression of limited self-government. The Scottish people will remain with in the union of the UK. They will continue to share with their English neighbours a common defence and foreign policy, a single economic framework and the same monarch. This is devolution, not separation.
DONALD DEWAR can take satisfaction from Labour's performance. He led from the front and clinched Labour support with his successful meet-the- people strategy. He will be strengthened by the fact that the Liberal Democrats have performed more poorly than expected. It will enable him to dictate terms in any power-sharing deal. He will not be too troubled by the fact that he does not have an overall majority and will have to come to an arrangement with the Lib Dems. No matter how bitter the election campaign became, Labour and the Lib Dems were careful not to damage the prospect of a post-election alliance.
THE SCOTTISH ELECTIONS
Comment on the results of the Scottish
parliamentary elections which took place this week
The British press celebrates the life of the actor and boozer
Oliver Reed following his death in Malta
THAT OLIVER Reed died with a glass in his hand, as he no doubt would have wished, should not disguise from us the waste of life and talent that resulted from his drinking. Nor should we pretend that his public conduct was anything other than degrading and vulgar, deserving neither indulgence nor approbation.
OLIVER REED exuded an animal magnetism and a sense of danger rare among British actors; these qualities made him a natural choice when the script required a woman to be either terrorised or seduced. But Reed's screen career often seemed like a mere rehearsal for the more important business of hell-raising in real life. He once summarised his career as "shafting the girlies and downing the sherbie". A prodigious drinker, he spent much of his later life being escorted from various pubs and hotels after initiating what he regarded as "tests of strength".
OLIVER REED was better known as a hell-raiser than an actor. Yet he remained in demand throughout a switchback career in which he starred in more than 50 films. The majority of them were forgettable and were soon forgotten by a man who could never take his talent seriously.
HELL-RAISER Oliver Reed died snoozing off a massive booze-up with his wife and a bunch of British sailors in a pub. If ever the two phrases "It's what he would have wanted" and "What a way to go" spring to mind, it's now. Cheers, Ollie!
WHEN OLIVER Reed was alive, we thought of him as just another drunken old sot. Now he's dead, his image has received the spit-and-polish of the media bar-man and he is presented as an amusing, alternative hero who refused to compromise his outlandish behaviour or cut down on his drinking, and met an end which he would have wanted.
(Moira Martingale )
MOHAMED AL FAYED
Opinion on the rejection of the Harrods
owner's application for British citizenship
ON WEDNESDAY night Prime Minister Tony Blair shook Mr Al Fayed's hand warmly and smiled a greeting. The next morning Mr Blair's government slapped Mr Fayed firmly in the chops. Common sense and justice should triumph over officialdom, and Home Secretary Jack Straw should order an exceptional review of Fayed's case. If the law forbids it, then the law is an ass and should itself be reviewed. Fayed is not about to go away. He lives and works here. He is one of us.
WHETHER OR not Al Fayed was granted citizenship was always going to be a close run thing. Widely despised for his vulgarity and his blatant attempts to buy himself a place in the British Establishment, Mr Al Fayed has few people prepared to speak up for him. Although we believe, on balance, he should have been granted citizenship, Jack Straw was entitled to decide otherwise. And although Mr Al Fayed has every right to appeal, he ought to realise that the longer he drags this through the courts, and the more bitterly he fights it, the less any of us will care about the result.
MR AL Fayed has not, despite his heated protests, chosen to make the crucial Home Office text public. Mr Al Fayed's reluctance to produce Mr Jack Straw's letter inevitably leaves him open to the suspicion of selectivity. His actions do not serve his best interests. He should release this correspondence in full and, having done so, explain why what has been said about him is not true or, if those allegations are accurate, why they do not undercut his claim to be of good character.
The US press considers the aftermath of the twister which swept through Mid-West America
The New York Times
FROM THE Wizard of Oz to this week's tornado,we have perpetuated the myth of a visual coexistence with twisters. But to watch your own tornado is a little like watching your own funeral. The wonder of this storm, given its path, is not that so many died but that so many did not.
THE COMPELLING and moving pictures of ripped-out homes remind us of our connectedness to other residents of other states and of our vulnerability to random acts of nature. Oklahomans and Kansans who were spared the destruction are reacting generously. In this vast sweep of a country, empathy seems to know no boundaries when the need is evident and the cause - nature's strength - so insurmountable.
OKLAHOMANS AND Kansans got a taste of Mother Nature gone berserk when a series of powerful tornadoes swept through that part of the nation. As all of the necessary atmospheric variables fell into place, the funnel clouds formed one after another and rolled across populated areas and flat, open countryside, leaving behind a signature of ruin and carnage.
THE SELECTIVE destruction that results from such a concentrated force is foreign to us. How is it possible for nature to obliterate only one side of a block? What is it like to emerge from the cellar after a storm such as this knowing, when it comes to your home and possessions, it's either all or nothing?
THE VIEWS OF THE WORLD
The Globe and Mail
Stories from around the world
The Times of India
"TO BE an effective secretary", we are told, "you need to develop the kind of lonely self-abnegating, sacrificial instincts usually possessed only by the early saints on their way to martyrdom." Does this also apply to political sanyasins like Ms Uma Bharati? The Union minister of state for sports and youth says "as a rule, sanyasins make good ministers and politicians". However, actor-turned-politician Sunil Dutt, when asked why good people rarely did well in politics, replied, "because they are too good - and sometimes it is bad to be too good - especially in politics". For women, continues Ms Bharati, there are two ways to enter politics - either through sycophancy, or through sheer grit. "As a street-fighter I have risen from the ranks, and find it no problem to handle men."
Press & Journal
ROSS MAXWELL badly cut his hand in a sword-fight scene during a performance of Macbeth. He is convinced he was a victim of the curse said to strike actors who mention the tragedy by name. Actors refer to Macbeth as "the Scottish play" because they believe that those who say its name will bring misfortune to the cast. He said: "I kept mentioning the name accidentally during rehearsals. It's my fault - I was warned."Reuse content