Letter: Pinter strikes back

Harold Pinter
Monday 10 May 1999 23:02

Sir: Timothy Garton-Ash (Comment, 6 May) is quite right to criticise my reference to Serbian "standard counter-insurgency" in the TV programme Counterblast. It is indeed a bland use of language. The reason I did not specify the Serbian atrocities which lay behind the term was because this is done every day of the week by others on television and in the press. But nothing I said in the programme could suggest that I condone these atrocities. Hardly. The point of the programme was to argue that dropping monstrously powerful bombs can only engender further atrocities and is in itself a crime.

Garton-Ash ignores one of the most important elements in Counterblast, which was our focus on the bombing of the Belgrade TV station. The Geneva Convention states: "Civilians shall not be the object of an attack unless they take a direct part in hostilities." The killings of civilians at the TV station and elsewhere are acts of murder. Or would Garton-Ash argue that they are humanitarian acts of murder?

As for his view that I believe America possesses "hypocritical, militaristic and imperialistic policies", and that Britain is "in poodle-like support of them", I couldn't have put it better myself.


London W8

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