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From the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday, April 24, 1999:

COMMENTARY: Colin Chinery. Looks back on the last Seven Days

[Lead story - the Denver Massacre]

New Deal from Tony and Bill

If political impetuosity and miscalculation have brought Nato troops to the point where they await their Balkan battle orders, the vanity of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton raises a yet more disturbing scenario.

It is now clear that both are moving towards the imperialism of a New World Order, run and largely bank-rolled by the President with the PM trotting at heel.

Mr Blair has already hailed the present folly as the first "progressive war" and now Chicago has set out five "tests" which must be passed before interference in a nation's affairs could be considered "acceptable".

The last of these is "do we have national interests involved?" Since any conflict must have at least two participating national interests, Blair can be assured of collecting a pass on Point Five.

But the real question for us is whether there is a British interest. In the Balkans there plainly is not. Indeed since over-stretched British forces could be pegged down in Kosovo for years, with all this entails in lives, costs and the tying-up of manpower, to say nothing of the implications of the refugee issue, British interests lie in a negotiated settlement.

But Blair's charter for meddling is at least one question short, and it is this. "Does the nation in whose sovereign affairs we propose to interfere have a nuclear capacity, the capacity to strike back at British cities?"

If the answer is yes, then be assured that Bomber Blair will quickly lose his taste for moralising armed interventionism.

And it was surely characteristic of Blair that he should be speaking in Chicago and not the House of Commons, the Parliament of the nation he has committed to war, and whose scrutiny he routinely avoids.

President Clinton meanwhile is assuming something of the arrogance and naiveté which characterised Woodrow Wilson's advance from domestic politics to the world stage. It was Wilson, of course, who said America must make the world "safe for democracy".

Unfortunately this was in the same year as the Russian Revolution, five years before Mussolini's March on Rome, 16 years short of Hitler's coming to power and 22 before the start of another world war.

Wilson also said America was the only idealistic nation in the world. And as if in furtherance of this, Clinton is urging not only the removal of "Europe's worst demagogue", but that Europe's ethnic problems must be resolved by "greater integration".

Leaving aside Mr Blair's desire for an independent, ethnic Kosovo, it might be though that the reordering of another nation's affairs by an outsider, not least the president of a nation that has difficulty integrating its own peoples, is rich in presumptuousness.



Clinton's hypocrisy after massacre

Unthank road, Norwich.

In the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, President Clinton is quoted as saying we should "show our children the power of our own example how to resolve conflicts peacefully".

Am I the only person to reel at the hypocrisy of this? The news coverage of the school massacre is followed directly by reports relishing the latest destruction in Kosovo caused by Nato air strikes.

There can be no easy solution to the problem of ethnic cleansing but fighting violence with violence has never ultimately achieved anything. We all know deep down, in spite of Jamie Shea's man-of-the-people PR, that innocent people will inevitably be killed. The death toll at the school stands at 15. I wonder how many people have been killed accidentally by Nato?

Leaving aside the issue of the "Monopoly money" that is being spent on this war, how many people in the British Isles - on moral and humanitarian grounds - endorse what Nato is doing? And if this is democracy, why do we have no voice to stop it?

The sympathy of every parent will go out to the families of those children in Columbine High School. But President Clinton can add "hypocrite" to his already long list of unattractive character traits

As for us, sending the odd lorry-load of blankets and re-housing a few refugees will not buy me an easy conscience.


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