Letter: Slogans which make no sense

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The Independent Online
"THE PRIME Minister answers those who have criticised his handling of the conflict", your heading promised ("What kind of Europe do we want for our children?", 30 May). He did not even address those criticisms, and although the conflict appears this weekend to be nearing resolution we ought to know how he could approach similar crises. His article, however, was little more than a torrent of emotion and fine-sounding slogans.

Here was an opportunity for him to explain, in reasoned argument, why he had committed us to taking military action without the approval of the United Nations. If he, and his colleagues, believe the UN incapable of dealing with such crises, their manifesto should have proposed a new organisation, and set out its principles. We could then have voted, knowing that New Labour had radical policies on international relations.

He could have explained why he thought a ground force unnecessary, when experience in Ulster showed that it would be indispensable. Ulster and Kosovo might be only loosely comparable, but both have peoples who have nurtured hatred over centuries. He might also have explained the reliance on air-strikes when they have so far proved ineffectual in dislodging the odious Saddam Hussein.

There is an old adage in the law, "hard cases make bad law". No doubt Mr Blair is familiar with it. Kosovo exemplifies the hard case, in that there is extreme suffering, for which there is no agreed remedy under international law. To invoke a new law, the "New World Order" and call in Nato as enforcer, is to ignore the wisdom of that adage. What has resulted is a kind of vigilantism, akin to taking a sledgehammer to the car of a neighbour who batters his wife, while failing to offer her a refuge, and real physical protection.


Malvern, Worcestershire