Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Standards in Middle East

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Standards in Middle East

Article excerpt

THERE IS a good case for the American and British bombing of Iraq.

Those who argue that 10 years of bombing and sanctions should be halted, because this policy has failed to remove Saddam Hussein, ignore the obvious consequence. If military and economic sanctions are lifted, Saddam will be left free to build weapons of mass destruction, for which his appetite is not in doubt. Sanctions and bombing may have failed to produce conclusive results against a uniquely ruthless tyrant, but for the West to acknowledge defeat at his hands would be intolerable. Somehow, pressure on Baghdad must be maintained until the regime agrees to readmit UN weapons inspectors.

Failure to achieve this would be a grave blow for international stability.

The new Bush Administration has given a clear signal on this issue, which should be welcome. There is one serious reservation, however. Iraq is being bombed within days of Israel choosing as her Prime Minister a man whom, in most other societies including Bosnia, would be an indicted war criminal. It is scarcely surprising that so many people in the Middle East contrast the toughness of American policy towards Iraq with Washington's indulgence towards Israel. As long as America continues to indulge Israel's ruthless treatment of the Palestinians, in defiance of UN resolutions, opinion in the Middle East is bound to be outraged by the display of double standards. It is right to maintain pressure upon Iraq, but the policy will seem grotesquely lopsided, as long as Washington tolerates Israel's behaviour on the West Bank.

Baby bond THE news that the Government is considering settling a sum of [pound]1,000 on every new-born infant has a comical aspect, yet it appears to be true. Once politicians contented themselves with kissing babies: now they want to stuff banknotes into their Babygrows.

In addition to smacking of straightforward political bribery, this appears to be the latest wheeze by an administration whose Chancellor, for all his virtues, is incapable of leaving well or near-well alone. New Labour may have abandoned the ambition of controlling the commanding heights of the economy, yet it suffers from an inherited itch to interfere, a compulsion to keep fiddling about with people's lives, in this case literally from birth. …

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