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WE USED to be visited by an amiable fellow called George. "Here I am in the Inner Sanctorium!" he would proclaim malapropistically on entering our flat. Later, in the course of a political diatribe, he would thump the table and intone: "I stand by what I say, right or wrong!" Being a problem-solver and logical thinker, I would fall about laughing at this self-contradiction and his inability to see how ludicrous it was.

But the same sort of self-contradictory illogic lies at the heart of Nato's Kosovan cock-up. Its repeated and avowed aim has been to protect the Albanian Kosovars by reducing Milosevic's ability to pursue ethnic cleansing. But bombing, as predicted, has produced the opposite. Support for Milosevic has soared among moderate Serbs. Ethnic cleansing has accelerated, atrocities worsened and the huge efflux of refugees risks destabilising the region. Nato, like a GP with no idea what is wrong with the patient, prescribes more of the same medicine.

It is, of course, un-PC to say this. Alex Salmond was savaged by Clare Short for saying what all people of sense spotted from the outset. He must be the toast of Belgrade, sniped Robin Cook. No, Robin. If there's a toast of Belgrade, it is Nato's naivety.

Nato Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark himself asserts that you can't stop paramilitary operations from the air. So how does this square with protecting the Albanian Kosovars? Illogical Captain, I mean General. Dottier still is the polarised rhetoric. You are for us or against us. Not so. Can't I be for you but against your policy? Bombing is the only alternative to doing nothing, says Blair. That's only because Clinton rules out ground troops in a just cause, presumably thanks to all those bad American experiences of intervention in unjust causes. Blame Milosevic, not Nato, says the Government. As if Milosevic being the root of this evil frees Nato from the responsibility of choosing a rational policy.

The upshot of all this binary illogic, this "black or white" thinking, this either/orishness is a humanitarian disaster. Baroness Warnock remarked that no civilised government could have foreseen the scale of the refugee crisis. Short on plans, short on imagination.

Even dottier is Short on why preparation for the refugees lagged so far behind preparations for bombing. To prepare in advance, she explained, would have been complicity. As a logical thinker, you could fall about laughing at the ludicrousness of all this self-contradiction if its consequences weren't so tragic.

Oh, and Happy Easter.

Answer to last week's puzzle

Colour the cubelets alternately black and white as shown. There are 14 black and 13 white. So you must start and end at a corner or face centre.


1.A fly alights at one corner of a sugar cube measuring 1cm X 1cm X 1cm and proceeds to walk, confining herself to the edges. How far can she walk without retracing any segment of her path? Prove it!

2. A couple have four children. If boys and girls are equally probable, are there more likely to be three girls and a boy, or two girls and two boys?

3. Rearrange the letters of TYPE A PHRASE to make an apposite message.

Comments to: indy@puzzlemaster.co.uk