Letter: Time for `ethical cleansing'

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Letter: Time for `ethical cleansing'

THE RESPONSE of correspondents to Bob Marshall-Andrews article ("We polished our weapons while the Albanians died", 20 June) on the Balkan conflict was disturbing. The letter from Nicky Hyman (27 June), in which, from the comfort of a tolerant, free, safe society, he talks about "rogue powers" intervening in the affairs of other countries on "flimsy humanitarian grounds", was particularly distressing. He should perhaps have consulted a few Kosovars before dismissing the destruction of people's homes and the rape and murder of their loved ones.

I am rather proud that at last we have a prime minister prepared to defend the human rights of oppressed peoples irrespective of whether the national interest is involved or the dubious concept of national sovereignty has been ignored.

Since the end of the bombing, no Government minister, least of all the Prime Minister, has indulged in anything resembling triumphalism. There have been no Falklands-style speeches on the steps of No 10.

Sadly, there will always be innocent victims of attempts to rectify human- rights abuses. There are white South Africans marooned in an impoverished limbo by the collapse of apartheid; there are innocent Iraqis suffering through the world's abhorrence of their leader; innocent Israelis would be rendered homeless by any just solution to the Palestinian question. These are the by-products of attempts to reform malevolent systems, just as innocent Serb victims are the by-products of the attempt to thwart the evil perpetrated by the Milosevic regime.

I would like a new term to enter the language of international relations: "ethical cleansing"; and to see the western democracies embarking on a project to rid the world of the governments that serially and brutally abuse human rights. There should be less talk of "rogue powers" interfering in the sovereign states and more of rogue dictators preying upon the weakest of their citizens.


Poulton, Cirencester