Chris Byrne on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 17:54:21 +0100

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

RHIZOME_RAW: UK: War as electioneering?

Apologies if this is not relevant to the seriousness of the situation in
Kosovo, but I believe it may throw some light on why the UK government is
so keen to take a role in the NATO air raids.

>From The Scotsman, Tuesday 30 March 1999,

               Salmond condemns Kosovo bombing as 'misguided'

                                ROBERT TAIT
 ALEX Salmond last night shattered the all-party consensus over [Image]
 the Balkans by delivering an unequivocal statement of the      Kosovan
 Scottish National Party's opposition to the NATO military      refugees
 action in Kosovo.                                              arriving in
 In a ground-breaking television address to the nation, Mr      at Blace,
 Salmond accused Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and Britain's  where more
 NATO allies of pursuing a "misguided" policy of "dubious       than 2,000
 legality ? and unpardonable folly".                            were
 Mr Salmond's criticism of the Balkans strategy provoked an     yesterday.
 unprecedented assault on him by a string of high-ranking       Reports:
 Government ministers as Labour sought to exploit the Kosovo    World News.
 crisis to its advantage in the run-up to the Scottish election Picture:
 campaign on 6 May.                                             Ian
 Mr Blair led the attack on the SNP last night, asserting that
 the Nationalists' claim that the NATO action was worsening the
 atrocities in Kosovo and strengthening the position of the
 Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, was "shameless".

 In a carefully co-ordinated Labour broadside, Robin Cook, the
 Foreign Secretary, earlier set the tone of the attacks by
 claiming that Mr Salmond's remarks would make him "the toast of
 Belgrade" and that the SNP leader now stood "side by side" with
 Mr Milosevic.

 During his broadcast - which was transmitted by the BBC and ITV
 throughout Scotland after Mr Blair, William Hague and Paddy
 Ashdown had been allowed to address the whole of the UK - Mr
 Salmond said he accepted that Mr Milosevic was chiefly to blame
 for the carnage taking place in the Balkans.

 In a comment which provoked the string of Labour invective, the
 SNP leader said: "The right thing to do is not for politicians
 to pursue a misguided policy and then ask our servicemen to
 implement it."

 Arguing that bombing would neither help the Kosovars nor weaken
 Mr Milosevic, Mr Salmond went on: "In virtually every country
 which has been blitzed this century, the reaction has been to
 steel the resolve of the civilian population.

 "This is what happened in London in the Second World War. It is
 also what happened in Clydebank. Why should we believe that
 there will not be the same reaction in Serbia?"

 Mr Salmond said the bombing had intensified the Serbs' attacks
 against the Kosovars and appeared to accept the NATO allies'
 argument that deploying ground troops would only lead to
 further casualties.

 Instead, he called for an all-out humanitarian aid effort, a
 full-scale economic blockade of the Serbs and an agreement that
 the Rambouillet accord could be policed by United Nations,
 rather than NATO, forces.

 Mr Blair led the Government onslaught as he arrived at
 Hillsborough Castle for talks on the Northern Ireland peace
 process. He said of Mr Salmond's address: "I think it's pretty
 shameless ? What is totally unprincipled is to say you support
 stopping Milosevic, but that it can be done somehow by economic
 sanctions. There is no earthly way that we can stop Milosevic
 through economic sanctions, and if we're not prepared to use
 military action then the alternative is doing absolutely

 " I think the statement of Mr Salmond falls a long way short of
 what we would expect from someone who aspires to government."

 Mr Cook said: "To stand aside from NATO and put himself as the
 only European leader to stand side by side with Milosevic shows
 he is simply unfit to lead. He is isolated in his view and a
 Scotland led by him would be isolated."

 Jim Wallace, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: "Alex
 Salmond is being incredibly naïve if he thinks that Milosevic
 would have given up his barbarous pursuit of the Kosovars
 whilst waiting for sanctions to bite."

 Raymond Robertson, chairman of the Scottish Conservatives,
 said: "Most Scots will find the SNP leader's comments
 insensitive and offensive and a clear warning that he must
 never be allowed to lead Scotland."

 Stung by the response, the Nationalists last night accused the
 Government of stooping to personal abuse.

 Describing Mr Cook's attack as "tawdry and tasteless", the SNP
 constitutional affairs spokesman, George Reid, said: "Robin
 Cook has shown a serious lack of judgment. Such a grave matter
 demands mature political debate, not cheap personal invective."

-> post:
-> questions:
-> answers:
-> unsubscribe:
posts to RHIZOME RAW are subject to the terms
set out in the Subscriber Agreement available online at