Letter: Clinton's war game

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Though inevitable tragedy almost certainly lies ahead for the people of Iraq, this latest crisis appears to have all the thought, sctructure and logic of the input of the proverbial headless chicken.

There is the Armed Forces Minister, John Reid, on HMS Edinburgh, playing war games in the Channel reported as saying "There's something romantic about this; better then working on the Child Support Agency" (report, 29 January). "Romantic", Mr Reid? This is preparation for killing people.

The Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon says an option is to bomb stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, which, if they exist, will release the most deadly toxins known, throughout the Middle East.

The response to the expelling of a maximum of 41 weapons inspectors is out of all proportion. There are still approximately 400 weapons personnel in Iraq, and it is business as usual.

On the face of it this would appear a reckless, feckless and unnecessary exercise which will do nothing for the standing of Britain and the United States in the Middle East and flies in the face of the majority vote of the UN Security Council.

In 1739 Britain declared war on Spain, a war Walpole had sought to avoid, tipped in the balance by the severing of the ear of the Master of the merchant ship Rebecca. "The War of Jenkins' Ear" resulted, also merged with American interests and lasted for 11 years. It is to be hoped that history, in spite of the spin put on it, will not record this latest crisis as "The War of Clinton's Member". If it does, we will be debased throughout time.

FELICITY ARBUTHNOT

London E9

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