Salmond: Stop `misguided' air strikes

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The Independent Online
ALEX SALMOND, the Scottish National Party leader, prompted government outrage at Westminster yesterday when he became the first British party leader to attack the legality of the bombings and compared them to the London Blitz.

The controversy erupted over Mr Salmond's televised broadcast on the Nato air strikes in which he called on the West to abandon the "misguided" policy. The broadcast, which was screened in Scotland last night, caused the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to claim that the SNP leader would be "the toast of Belgrade".

"Few people are in any doubt that President Milosevic bears the prime responsibility for the human tragedy in the Balkans," Mr Salmond said. "However, if we are to sanction intervention in Serbia then the policy must be capable of achieving two things. It must be capable of weakening Milosevic, and helping Kosovo." Mr Salmond said a bombing campaign would achieve neither and could make both worse.

"In virtually every country which has been blitzed this century, the reaction has been to steel the resolve of the civilian population," he said. "This is what happened in London in the Second World War. It is also what happened in Clydebank."

However, Mr Cook said Mr Salmond had shown himself "simply unfit to lead". "To compare the effect of the Allied action over Serbia to the blitz of London and Clydebank by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War will be deeply offensive not only to service personnel and their families but also to millions of British citizens," he said. "He fails to see the clear distinction between the resolve of a democracy defending itself against dictatorship and a dictatorship engaged in ethnic cleansing."