Letter: Northern Ireland: the solution may lie in vibrant politics with a small 'p'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Conor Cruise O'Brien has consistently struck a jarring note in his Independent columns with what I can only describe as his anti-German views ('Next door to Nietzsche's children', 2 July) and his insistence that western Europe should allow the strong to prevail over the weak in Bosnia ('There will be no Nuremberg here', 26 February).

The public ventilation of such attitudes by someone once proud to be regarded as a pillar of liberalism contributes, in no small way, to the erosion of tolerance in Europe and to the creation of a cynical atmosphere in which states can get away with actions that beforehand public opinion would never have allowed.

Abandoning the mostly blameless citizens of Northern Ireland to an undeserved fate at the hands of paramilitaries is something the British government might be contemplating - so Dr O'Brien tells us (9 July).

He opposes it, so do I. But he should be aware that the chauvinist and isolationist views he has promoted in this brave new Europe of ours shaped by the Bosnian disaster, bring a step nearer the vision that so appals him.

Yours faithfully,


Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford


10 July