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"An `ethical foreign policy' is an oxymoron," Judith Holmes insists, "and should be used as an example of the term in Chambers Dictionary." Her argument is that the basic aim of a foreign policy is to extract the maximum benefit for one's own country, which is unethical. Geoffrey Langley tells us that "Metternich, whilst dancing at the Congress of Vienna, observed that a shopsoiled ethical foreign policy is like a bent travel insurance policy, both being useless if you are marooned in Florida, Sierra Leone or Jakarta with a trapped trigger finger".

The question posed, however, was what to do with a slightly soiled ethical foreign policy. Mike Gifford recommends letting market forces take over, when "it will be snapped up by an ethics girl from Basildon". If we want to take it seriously, however, he recommends using the Venus de Milo as its symbol "as she obviously has an arms embargo".

John and Renee Dolan suggest that ethical foreign policies should be written down and then used to paper the Lord Chancellor's residence. Alternatively, tightly rolled up, they could be sold as weapons to oppressed minorities.

Susan Tomes has three suggestions to improve the ethical content of foreign policy: "Instead of supplying arms to Sierra Leone, we could supply legs to landmine victims; instead of spending time on selfish pursuits such as colonic irrigation, our diplomats could arrange to irrigate the colonies; and instead of a Foreign Office, we could have a Foreign Onice, with the slogan: `Onisty is the best policy'."

Fiona and John Earle say that in their dictionary "ethical" comes between "ether" (which is derived from a Greek word meaning "lit up") and "ethmoid" (a bone in the nose whose name comes from the Greek for "full of holes"). They conclude: "If you judge ethical by the company it keeps and it is shop-soiled, then you are talking about a pretty tatty policy." They recommend using it to make cook-in oil.

Stephen Kirin sees Ethical Foreign Policy Fudge as an entry in a new cook book, "Cooking with Cook". Dan Lewis thinks all the fuss was due to a misprint. "The Foreign Office is far too fond of continuity suddenly to agree to an ethical foreign policy. What was announced was an ethnical foreign policy - splendidly vague and confusing."

Nicholas E Gough, as so many of us do at times such as these, quotes Henry Kissinger: "No foreign policy, no matter how ingenious, has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of the few and carried out in the heart of none."

Sian Cole spells out her own completely ethical foreign policy, applying the same generous and open moral standards to all men regardless of nationality.

Kay Newman says: "The ethical foreign policy always was an endangered species. Should one be found alive, its habitat would have to be declared a world heritage site, and it would need a round-the-clock armed guard to protect it from avid monetarists keen to sell it for personal gain."

Bruce Birchall has a different idea of what to do if you find an EFP: "Jump up and down, beat your chest, and declare loudly: `I'm the king of the moral high ground and you're the dirty rascal,' and increase your feelgood factor no end." His more impractical recommendation is: "Find ethical civil servants to implement it." He has also written a football chant to sell an EFP to the masses: "Here we go, here we go, here we go; there we don't, there we don't, there we don't."

Chambers Dictionary prizes to: Susan Tomes, John and Renee Dolan and Bruce Birchall.

Next week, we'll be discussing what to do with a Panama hat, a tin of sardines and a packet of Polos. Meanwhile, continuing this week's theme, we're looking for ethical things to do with landmines. Ideas will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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