Letter: Diplomacy and Iraq

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Whatever pretensions to diplomacy and sense European maturity offers, it was America that resolved the awesome mess in 1918; Britain and America who rescued Europe from a maniacal Hitler; and it is the English- speaking community once more showing the resolute appreciation of the weakness of diplomatic nicety in dealing with a ruthless dictator ("US and Britain insist on force against Iraq", 7 February).

The astonishing self-interest and biased, unreasoning diplomacy of the pro-Romanian French at Versailles and Trianon set up the Second World War and produced the fractious nation states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia that failed the test of time and ethnic sense. The Americans walked out of those negotiations in disgust. Would that they had stayed.

Giscard d'Estaing and Charles de Gaulle thought the French could go it alone in foreign and defence policy. Now they suppose, again patently for self-interest, that they can bring Saddam Hussein to sweet reason and compliance just by words. And after seventy years of monolithic, Stalinist, self- interested diplomacy, Russia professes international mediation prowess, but places naive faith in another brutal despot's benevolence towards mankind.

History teaches there is no answer to such people short of superior, collective strength. Dictators do not understand reason, and diplomacy is nothing, if reason be not a tool.