Letters: War crimes

Karadzic will face tribunal, but what of the other leaders?

Share
Related Topics

The media circus over the capture of Radovan Karadzic has little to do with any notion of "justice" for his victims. Rather it is a continuation of the simplistic myth, peddled by Western leaders and the media through the Nineties, that the disintegration of Yugoslavia was the result of ancient ethnic hatreds and that the Serbs were the chief aggressors in the break-up.

The portrayal of the Balkan tragedy in terms of "goodies" and "baddies" disguised the West's own role in the break-up of Yugoslavia and made Western military intervention there much easier to sell to the people of Europe and America. It also made Western relations with the newly created republics of the region in the post-war period a lot more simple.

The disintegration of Yugoslavia was bloody and all sections of Yugoslavia's multi-ethnic population suffered pogroms and ethnic cleansing but, while the "international community" hunted for Serb war criminals, it supported the likes of Croatia's notorious President, Franjo Tudjman. He had the blood of 20,000 Croatian Serbs on his hands and had overseen the ethnic cleansing of 275,000 Croatian Serbs in the Krajina, but he was not troubled by the prospect of a tribunal in The Hague. Karadzic's arrest also provides an excellent opportunity for those who supported the West's war on Serbia, and who continue to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to rehabilitate the discredited doctrine of "humanitarian intervention".

Karadzic will probably be brought before a tribunal in The Hague to answer for the deaths of the 12,000 in Sarajevo and the 7,500 Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica. But the idea of bringing George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, or Tony Blair before a UN tribunal to answer for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis or, for turning Afghanistan into an abattoir, is absurd.

Sasha Simic

London N16

Pitfalls of Labour's workfare scheme

As a university lecturer in social policy for 25 years, I studied workfare schemes in several countries (letters, 24 July). I spent a year in the USA as a visiting professor and the schemes there seem to be the main influence on Labour's Green Paper.

The overwhelming conclusion of the studies are, yes, the numbers on benefit were brought down but the major effect was to shift people in poverty on benefit into being in poverty in work. For single mothers, there was also a deterioration in their quality of life because they often had to get up at 5am to drag their children to day-care, drag themselves to work in low-paid jobs then back to pick up their children.

This scheme could not be launched at a worse time, when we are about to enter the deepest recession since 1929. Unemployment is going to rise sharply, so where are all these jobs coming from, or are the unemployed to be forced into menial tasks wearing yellow jackets like criminals doing community service?

There are alternative strategies. In Denmark, you get 80 per cent of your previous income on social security, you have universal and affordable childcare, excellent vocational education and free higher education with full grants.

The result is low levels of unemployment and high wages with a minimum wage of £10 an hour and only 2 per cent of children in poverty compared to 25 per cent in Scotland. It is funded by progressive taxation, including 67 per cent on the rich.

Hugh Kerr

Edinburgh

CABx threatened by new centres

Carolyn Regan's letter (17 July) attempting to justify integrated commissioning of community legal advice centres is disingenuous. Access to legal aid has already been severely restricted. Those who do not qualify for legal aid cannot be dealt with in the proposed centres and will have to be referred elsewhere. Far from enhancing access to advice, the impact of the proposed changes will be to reduce the help available to most of those who use Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx).

The joint contract will destabilise the already fragile funding base of many CABx. It will adversely affect the voluntary help at the heart of local CABx and will be very much more costly to run. The knock-on effect for local communities will be even more costly when people unable to access help are thrown back on statutory welfare services already under severe pressure.

It would be a tragedy if, in pursuit of administrative tidiness, we were to lose the unique non-stigmatising service CABx have offered for more than 65 years.

Terry Bamford

London W2

Flaw in the speed camera argument

Mr Bridgstock claims that speed cameras are based on a flawed concept (letters, 21 July), but his argument is based on the logical flaw that, because a rule does not have the desired outcome in every case, it is not worth having the rule. But, apart from that, he ignores a reason for speed limits in built-up areas: noise.

Even if it were safe to drive through the village where I live at more than 50mph (which it manifestly is not), I should still want the speed limit enforced, because a car travelling at 56mph makes 10 times as much noise as a car travelling at 31 mph. The only effective way of achieving this is average-speed cameras, as used in Nottinghamshire. These also avoid the problem of sudden braking at single cameras.

David Bell

Ware, Hertfordshire

Schools may be cause of crime

The increase in violent crime among the young may be at least partly related to the Government's schools policy. Most of the perpetrators of knife attacks appear to have significant special educational needs which have not been detected, or addressed, by their schools.

Having worked in the system for 30 years, I have repeatedly seen headteachers siphon money from the neediest children to increase provision for the "below average" students, where an improvement in grades can do wonders for the school's league-table position. The weakest children are often sidelined, follow an unsuitable curriculum and are given poorly qualified assistants instead of specialist teachers.

They end up leaving school with no skills, no ambition and a history of disruption, truancy and exclusion. If you want to get tough with the causes of crime, start right here.

Arnie Donoff

London N11

Tax young drinkers into the pubs

There seem to be fundamental misunderstandings in the government's attitude to drinking (Extra, 24 July). Brown sticks 5p on a pint of beer. That's a captive market: people in the pub for a quiet pint or two will grumble, and still pay.

But a three-litre bottle of chemical cider with an ABV of 7.5 still costs £2.99, about the same price as a pint of beer at about 3.8 ABV. So your price/alcohol ratio is about 10.5 to 1.

The bloke who has a couple of pints usually goes home afterwards; youngsters start with booze from an off-licence, partly because booze is a lot cheaper than it is in clubs and bars, so clubs and bars offer a cheap-drink happy hour.

Why not tax off-sales heavily to drive the price up, thus forcing youngsters into the more controlled environment of the pub, and enforce the law barring alcohol to people who appear drunk? If you add the responsibility of making sure that youngsters drink more sensibly to the publican's burden, we might see the end of alcopop races and drinking games.

Bob Sunman

Cardiff

'Lost' centuries of the arts

Obviously, as ex-director of the Poetry Society, Christina Patterson has a more than passing interest in any discussion of contemporary poetry, and I much enjoyed her football analogy when talking about Joanna Lumley's "attack" on it as either obscure or self-indulgent (23 July).

Liz Cowley, author of the book to which Ms Lumley wrote the contentious introduction, is quoted as saying in agreement, "With rare exceptions, I stopped enjoying poetry written any time after the 18th century". Would either or both of them have no music after Mozart? No plays after Sheridan? No painting after Gainsborough? Probably not.

Gill Learner

Reading, Berkshire

Palestinians have their rights, too

In Lior Ben-Dor's haste to rebut the idea that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is apart-heid [letters, 22 July], he conveniently forgets to mention another important piece of historical context and background: Palestinians also have a historical and legitimate connection to the land currently dominated by Israel's vastly superior military and economic power.

The embassy letter is a classic piece of diplomatic dissembling which ignores the grievances that drive the problem he deplores. How many Palestinians have been killed, wounded or displaced in the process of establishing and securing the State of Israel? He does not tell us.

The ideological roots of the segregation being practised by Israel may be different to those which led to apartheid in South Africa, but their effect is the same, which is why Donald Macintyre described it as "like" apartheid. He was quite correct to do so.

Simon Prentis

London NW3

Lior Ben-dor may well be upset by Donald Macintyre's comparison of apartheid conditions in occupied Palestine and South Africa (letters, 22 July], but then the truth is often painful to face.

I have recently twice visited the West Bank and have seen many of the conditions so graphically described, the endless petty restrictions, the daily humiliations, the 607 roadblocks, the racist planning and housing policies. Little of this has anything to do with the "security measures" that Ben-Dor claims are a necessary response to constant threats.

Most are simply spiteful actions intended to make life difficult for the Palestinians and to demonstrate Israeli power. Here, there are indeed parallels with the behaviour of the South African apartheid regime.

Mike Gwilliam

Norton-on-Derwent, North Yorkshire

I had to write in about Alex Hogg's assertion that Israel's Arab citizens are confined to 8 per cent of the surface area because the other 92 peer cent is reserved by a veil of corporate ownership for Jews only (letters, 23 July).

The fact is that Arabs, who form about 20 per cent of Israel's population are confined to about 3 per cent of the surface area because about 5 per cent of the land is uninhabitable, especially as Arabs tend not to get the grants to "make the desert green again".

Yes, Arabs can apply to Israel's Supreme Court if they want to live on otherwise Arabrein land. But imagine the outcry if the only way British Jews were allowed to live in London was if they applied to the courts while the racially or ethno-religiously acceptable simply had to meet the rent or purchase price?

Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

Briefly...

It's still bigotry

Adrian West objects to Lillian Ladele being labelled "homophobic", because her homophobia is based on "sincerely held" religious beliefs (letters, 22 July). It is precisely this privilege of religious belief that is problematic. Beliefs are usually "sincerely held" whether they are religious or not, and bigotry should be no more respectable when it is motivated by religious rather than secular beliefs.

Peter McKenna

Liverpool

Prison is no answer

It is ironic that the taxpayer will have a bill for the incarceration of the Darwins (reports, 24 July) which will be at least as great as their ill-gotten gains. Realistically, this wretched couple present no threat to society and yet our judiciary consider that prison is the appropriate place for them rather than, for example, a hefty community service order. And we wonder why our prisons are overcrowded. It is a shame that Johann Hari (Comment, 24 July) was not sitting in judgement on them. His sentencing would have been far better thought out.

David Bracey

Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire

Wrong spot

I enjoyed Jonathan Gibbs' "All the World's a Crime Scene" (22 July) and was pleased to see that Scandinavian writers made the cut. But he got one location wrong: Kerstin Ekman is one of Sweden's leading writers, and not only in the crime genre, so it is a shame to see her placed on your map somewhere in the middle of northern Finland. Her gripping novel Blackwater is set in Sweden, closer to the Norwegian border.

Sarah Death

Meopham, Kent

When Balls was told

In the Ed Balls interview ("SATs? It's gas prices that could wreck Brown's autumn, warns his great ally", 23 July), he claims that the first he and his department heard of the ETS SATs marking fiasco was at the beginning of July. Markers and supervisors were banging their collective heads against walls in May, and made certain the powers-that-be knew about their frustrations. I should know, my mother was a marker and, among the people she wrote to about the chaos before the end of May, was the Rt Hon Ed Balls MP.

Jon Ericsson

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Walk on the mild side

Julie Ives (letters, 21 July) raises fears that the authorities would stop our bus passes if they knew of all the over-age sex that went on. It could be no bad thing. It would cut down the activities of the over-active, ageing lotharios if they had to walk to their assignations.

Madge Alston

Ipswich

Periodic slackness

Martin Mottram (letters, 22 July) has indicated his displeasure at some of your columnists' minimal use of punctuation, but you bring in another issue with the use of a US English term "Period" in the headline. Please desist. Full stop.

Richard Sewell

Lichfield, Staffordshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines