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The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that matter, perhaps he cares to recall with regard to the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina that there

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was no great sentimental uproar in Britain, Germany or Europe stating that this had to stop. It all happened in silence. People looked the other way.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, I agree. That is an important point about not having politics absolutely dominated by the camera. The camera cannot be ignored. The cameras were not there showing what happened, but they were there in Kosovo, and we reacted because we are basically decent human beings. Our whole instinct is to try to help our oppressed fellow men and women.

The truth of the matter is that it is a tragedy. The tragedy is that we tried to stop it, could not stop it and this great dispersal has taken place. Frankly, bringing people back under armed guard to a province from which they were expelled, in which their villages were burned and their community structure destroyed is not the same thing as preventing them from being expelled in the first place. That is what gives me doubt and worry about how long the whole thing can be maintained by us in the interests of the Kosovars.

What does that lead me to? It is not enough simply to say that it is a tragedy. We have to prevail. NATO must not be put in a position where its credibility and authority are undermined, because it will have great purposes in the future to perform, greater frankly than we have had in Kosovo. I am sure of that. It is the great instrument that the world has for enforcing peace against aggression. Do not let us destroy it if we can possibly avoid it. I am sure that NATO should insist on and will get the larger part of the five conditions, but do not let us be over-rigid about the negotiation.

We must bring in the Russians. That is essential not only in this regard but for the whole peace of Europe, looking much further ahead than Kosovo. It is absolutely right to bring in the Russians. We must renew the Partnership for Peace. There cannot be peace in Europe without the Russians. There must be a democratic Russia or one that does not feel humiliated and destroyed.

I hope very much that we are able to do that. We need to negotiate with the Russians and show a certain flexibility. Clearly, the people must go back to their homes and they must do that with the protection of an international force.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Is he aware that there was a G8 agreement in Bonn today which involved the Russians?

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, there is so much going on and we have not really had time to deal with it in this debate. That meeting of G8 is extremely important. I should love to hear later from the Front Bench about the appearance in Rome of the gentleman who is a moderate among the Kosovar leaders and any other information which up-dates the situation.

We must think very hard indeed about a future in which we have started to say that we shall not tolerate unacceptable internal repression inside the different states. The noble Earl reminded us of a long list of

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villains in the world today. We cannot interfere and deal with them all. There must be strict criteria and we must think very hard indeed before we use anywhere the military weapon.

The Prime Minister--and I recommend this to the whole House--delivered a quite remarkable speech in Chicago on 22nd April in which he tried to spell out what, in a new world setting, is required. He listed various criteria which should limit action and should lead to only the most selective occasions on which we should intervene.

However, I add two points to that. First, if we are to have a world in which we intervene more in internal affairs than we did before, in spite of what the charter said, we must have it very clear in our minds who is to give authority for those interventions. It cannot just be NATO. It must be the United Nations, and if we must reform the United Nations in one way or another, then we must do that. That is from where the authority must originate.

Secondly, we must look carefully at the criteria, including to what extent internal repression has been triggered by the kind of IRA activity of the KLA and other bodies. We cannot ignore that and it must be in our minds.

Thirdly, we must look carefully at all other sanctions--diplomatic, economic, oil and so on--before we think about military action.

Fourthly, in thinking about military action, we must take account of the forces available to this country. We are putting an incredibly disproportionate military capacity of our country into a tiny area. I am in favour of doing what we can to help, but, good God, there will be other events. As our learned military friends told us, we shall have to be there for decades in order to keep the peace. That is no good. That will deny us the freedom of action and movement to deal with other crises in different parts of the world.

We must have more members in our Armed Forces. I take that for granted. We shall have to have a review of the defence review, which will not cause great unhappiness to some of my noble friends on the Front Bench.

That is all I want to say. I do not advocate in any way that we should shrug our shoulders about intolerable behaviour within the frontiers of sovereign states. But unless we are to be faced with the charge that, in the words of Tacitus,

    "They make a desert and they call it peace", we must think carefully about the relationship of means to ends, and we must above all encourage the spread of democracy as the greatest defence against tyranny that mankind knows.

9.49 p.m.

The Earl of Dartmouth: My Lords, I normally listen to the noble Lord, Lord Shore, who speaks with clarity and precision on the subject of the European Union. I am delighted that we have had a full demonstration that his knowledge and clarity of thought are not restricted to that important subject.

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First, I want to thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, for moving the Motion. As I have said in the House before, I have the honour to be standing on behalf of my party for the European Parliament for my home region of Yorkshire. In the first part of what I have to say I shall be fully reflecting the views of my party and my noble friends, but subsequently I shall be speaking only for myself.

As a party, we unreservedly support the brave men and women in our superb Armed Forces. Further, we strongly question the erosion of the Territorial Army, which, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said earlier from his unique perspective, is our only reserve. The erosion of the Territorial Army is taking place at the same time as the Government are imposing ever more obligations on the Armed Forces. When the Armed Forces go into action they are entitled to expect that the Government will have defined and attainable war aims, attainable by clear and consistent objectives. So long as that applies, so long are the Government entitled to expect the Opposition's unconditional support.

I should like to permit myself some personal but relevant observations, one of which echoes the noble Lord, Lord Shore. First, it is very hard to sustain the proposition that the bombing has done much to help the Kosovo Albanians in their plight, which was, and is, its primary purpose.

Secondly, NATO was, as I understand it, formed originally as a defensive alliance, and it is highly questionable that NATO is a suitable instrument to prosecute a moral foreign policy defined by Britain and the United States outside the borders of NATO. Indeed, it is rather likely that this war will result in possibly lethal stresses and strains on the NATO alliance. Already one NATO member, Greece, has made it very clear that it will not provide any facilities for NATO ground troops to go into Serbia.

Thirdly, if we are indeed engaged on a moral foreign policy, by definition that moral foreign policy cannot and should not stop at the borders of the European land mass. Many noble Lords, like me, feel strongly about Kashmir, an area where, unlike Kosovo, Britain has historic links and, deriving therefrom, a historic responsibility. By comparison with Kosovo, the Government seem to be showing very little interest in Kashmir and in other problems in other parts of the world.

Fourthly, the Government have many times made clear to this House their contempt for history. But those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. The problems of Kosovo and elsewhere in the region are not solely the product of Milosevic or anyone else; but, more especially, are the product of 1,000 years of Balkan history. Such problems are unlikely to be resolved rapidly by the simplistic solution of bombing.

Fifthly, the Government are rightly impressed by science, but they should therefore remember the scientific axiom that for every action there is an equal and opposition reaction. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, in a typically eloquent and statesmanlike speech, the Government do not seem to have considered fully the collateral effects of the

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damage done by the bombing of Serbia on the fragile economies and even more fragile newly democratic and partly pro-Western governments elsewhere in the region--for example, Bulgaria and Montenegro, although there was a brief mention of Montenegro in the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert.

Sixthly, as others have said, the Government seem to have made a classic error in ruling out the use of ground troops from the outset. I know that this Government are suffused with a strong Christian ethos, but, on the face of it, it is rather surprising that nobody appears to understand that you should not show your hand to your opponent before you begin.

Seventhly, another lesson of history is that bombing hardly ever works in terms of removing an established regime. It did not work during the Blitz in London and Coventry; it did not work in Germany; and more recently it did not work in North Vietnam with the constant bombing of Hanoi. Widespread bombing seems to have the opposite effect. It unites the civilian populace behind the existing military and political leadership.

Perhaps I may permit myself a party point. I find it utterly bizarre that the same people who favoured one-sided disarmament for this country in the Cold War, in 1999 are almost completely in favour of bombing defenceless TV stations in the Balkans. That is a bizarre irony which has not been properly addressed.

I hope that the Government have fully considered the effect of the bombing of Serbia on the struggling and fragile pro-Western and democratic forces in Russia. Pan-Slavism is a movement with deep historic roots and it is hard to envisage NATO's attacks on Serbia doing anything other than playing into the hands of the revanchist and former communist forces in Russia. The possible effect on Russia of the bombing in Serbia is more than worrying. We may yet be living dangerously all over again.

I want to raise a point that, I fear, will make me rather unpopular in the Chamber, if that is possible. It is a point of great concern to the electors of Yorkshire and will be of concern to all electors in this country. Originally, we were told that there would be an absolute ceiling of 3,000 refugees admitted to Britain from Kosovo. Now we are told that we should expect 1,000 refugees a week. Can the Minister tell the House whether there is to be a new ceiling for refugees from Kosovo and, if so, what that ceiling is? If there is to be no ceiling, can we be told?

I also want to draw the Minister's attention to an article in today's edition of The Times. In quoting the article, I want to make it absolutely clear that in no way do I endorse it. The article written by John Laughland is headed as follows:

    "In spontaneously opening our hearts to these Kosovan refugees, we are opening our country to organised criminality". On the face of it, that statement seems totally libellous, but such assertions need to be thoroughly investigated. I ask the Minister for some assurances on that point.

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Finally, for the Government to maintain the national support that they now enjoy, and which they need to achieve their desirable and laudable objectives, they must demonstrate an absolute clarity in their aims and their thinking, and, I dare to suggest, a greater degree of clarity than has been exhibited thus far.

10 p.m.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I am glad that on 25th March I dissociated myself from the military action--the bombing--against Kosovo. Indeed, I said then that it was a deadly venture from which there was no quick exit. In fact, so it has proved.

I want to make it clear that I take this position not because I am a pacifist or a peacemaker; indeed, I supported the retaking of the Falkland Islands, though I was in complete disagreement with my local Labour Party. As a result I faced de-selection, though in the event I was not de-selected. I was supportive of that campaign to retrieve British sovereign territory and to rescue British citizens from the vicious Argentine dictator, General Galtieri. I felt that we had a duty to do that because British sovereign territory was at stake. I am not sure that the present Prime Minister was as supportive of the action as I was at the time.

I want to say also that I supported the Gulf War. I felt we had a duty to prevent a dictator taking over somebody else's country and to protect Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, some of the present Cabinet did not support the Gulf War. I hope therefore that I shall not be accused of being an appeaser, especially by the Secretary of State for International Development, who demands free speech--very free speech--for herself but apparently not for others who might disagree with her.

The fact is that what many feared would happen in Kosovo has happened; it has been a disaster. The campaign which was expected to last seven days is now in its seventh week. Until the beginning of this debate we did not seem to be making any progress. I hope that since then, and throughout the day, some progress is being made. I fervently hope that it will result in the end of the hostilities and indeed the return of the refugees to their homes, though I doubt that that will happen.

A humanitarian tragedy has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of NATO intervention. Let us make no mistake about that. And anybody reading the debate on 25th March will realise that there was no mention in that debate of any mass exodus. So the mass exodus has taken place since 23rd March when the bombing commenced and we should keep that in our minds.

There was also a failure properly to negotiate with Mr. Milosevic. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, criticised Milosevic as being some sort of Hitler figure. I do not believe that that is so. We have extremely short memories. Noble Lords may remember that Mr. Holbrooke said that Mr. Milosevic was a man with whom we could deal. Indeed, he dealt with Milosevic, and without dealing with him he would not have got the Dayton Agreement. We must therefore refresh our memories before we start demonising the Serbs and Mr. Milosevic. We dealt with him and shall have to deal with him again over the negotiating table.

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In the Rambouillet agreements we presented Mr. Milosevic with an ultimatum and timescale which he could not possibly accept.

At the same time we encouraged the KLA to believe that NATO was on its side, and if its representatives would only sign up to the agreement, then things would go well for them and they would eventually get the independence that they wanted. This has brought about untold misery for the Kosovars, death and destruction to Serbia and the destabilisation of the region, especially in Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, which have had to absorb the refugee out-flow.

As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, pointed out, we said to Milosevic: "Unless you give us the whole run of our military machine throughout Yugoslavia, we will start bombing you". No leader of any country could accept such a demand and ultimatum. It was that failure to negotiate on a proper footing and on reasonable conditions that has brought about this tragedy. I hope we will learn a lesson from that.

It has also undermined the authority of the United Nations. There has been some loss of NATO's credibility and it has exposed some of its weaknesses. President Clinton today has said that the main war aim is to return Kosovar refugees to their land and their homes. However, but for the impatience of NATO and its leaders and their underestimation of the staying power of Milosevic and the Serb people, it is unlikely that the refugee flood of 680,000 people would have occurred in the first place.

NATO leaders also made the mistake of ignoring Russia's pleas for a peaceful settlement and offers of diplomatic assistance, in the belief that a few days of high-level bombing would force compliance with their demands in a short space of time. Now, they are having to turn to Russia as the last hope of achieving a peaceful settlement and avoiding further escalation of military action, including low-level terror bombing.

All this shows that the policy of ultimatum and belligerence has failed, as it always does, and that the likely outcome is very much worse than could have been obtained by realistic and patient negotiation.

We are now told by the World Bank and others that we shall have to pay billions of pounds, perhaps hundreds of billions of pounds, to re-build the property and infrastructure after the damage that the bombers have wreaked in Kosovo and Serbia and to re-build their shattered economies and those of the countries adjacent to Yugoslavia whose economies have also been shattered as a result of the war.

Can the Minister give a realistic estimate of these costs? I have heard estimates as high as a £1,000 billion. The Government must have made some estimate, so perhaps the Minister can let me have that this evening. Can she say what are the costs to British taxpayers of re-building the region and stationing British troops, perhaps for as long as 10 or 20 years, in Kosovo?

We should remember that troops sent in to police Bosnia were intended to be withdrawn after one year. Three-and-a-half years later they are still there and

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likely to be there for many, many years to come, and there are still 1,200,000 refugees who have not yet returned to their homes. That is the scale of the problem.

We are entitled to ask whether the Armed Forces can cope with these tasks, with their numbers reduced--shamefully reduced, in my view--and their resources cut to the bone.

What is to happen to the 50,000 Kosovars who may come to Britain? Will they be allowed to re-settle here permanently if they so wish, or are they to be forcibly repatriated when their year's stay is up? I think we need an answer to that question.

Finally, I ask the Minister whether we can expect further actions of this sort by NATO concerning the internal affairs of other sovereign states--actions which, incidentally, would be against the UN Charter. If so, how will we determine which countries they are to be? After all, Turkey ethnically cleansed 1,200,000 Kurds. Is it a target for NATO intervention? It has not been up until now, but is that the sort of thing that we have in mind? I believe that the British people and the world need an answer to that question. What about the United Nations, which has been ignored and sidelined? Has it any future at all, or is the new world order about which we hear so much to be determined not by the comity of nations but by NATO on the basis that might is right?

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I believe that this venture has wreaked all sorts of harm from which we will suffer for a very long time. I urge the Government, and all NATO countries, to seek peace as soon as they possibly can. Indeed, to do so, they must be prepared to soften the demands that they made at Rambouillet, which were unreasonable and could not be met by the Serb leader. In fact, had he met them, he would probably not now be in power. Therefore, I urge the Government to do things properly this time and try to get a peaceful settlement and one which proves to be long term in the Balkans.

10.10 p.m.

The Earl of Drogheda: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, for initiating this debate. The noble Lord treated us to some fine warlike oratory. However, I find the implicit appeal to withhold criticism of the Government out of respect for our troops an invidious one for two reasons. First, our troops are highly efficient and professional soldiers and will perform their duty, even if its demands are distasteful to them. Secondly, we were not given an opportunity to express our opinions before this wild adventure was embarked upon and it is quite right that we should be allowed to do so now, and to do so without reservations.

I have great sympathy for the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean. She has the unenviable task of justifying the Government's actions when she replies to the debate. She will doubtless tell us what the legal basis for our intervention in the former Yugoslavia was. Our security was not threatened; Serbia had not attacked the United Kingdom, or any other country; the United Nations had not sanctioned the attack; and NATO had not even been "invited" to intervene by an opposition group within the former Yugoslavia. We are

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behaving as policeman and law in one--an attitude that violates one of the fundamental principles on which a free and democratic society is based. Our justification seems to rest solely on a sense of moral outrage compounded by frustration. That is not a sound basis on which to start a war.

Moreover, the place NATO chose to start this war could hardly have been less well chosen. Kosovo holds a particular place in the Serb consciousness. It was there, in 1389, that the Ottomans defeated the Serbs in a battle that resulted in 500 years of Ottoman domination. It has immense religious and cultural significance and the idea of its loss or secession is inconceivable to the vast majority of Serbs. It would have been hard to have found a worse starting place for NATO's bombing offensive. With complete disregard for history in choosing Kosovo as the starting point for the war--the "conflict", as the Americans euphemistically insist on calling the dropping of tens of thousands of bombs on a country that cannot retaliate in kind--NATO achieved precisely the opposite of what it had intended; the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was accelerated dramatically and horrifically; hundreds of thousands of refugees poured out of Kosovo into Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, and Milosevic, who had had his problems in holding onto power, was able to "giddy busy minds with foreign quarrels" and boost his own reputation within the country.

Until the Rambouillet meeting, a substantial contingent of United Nations observers was stationed in Kosovo. After Rambouillet, provoked by Milosevic's refusal to accept what was an unacceptable ultimatum--as the noble Lords, Lord Stoddart and Lord Jenkins of Putney, have pointed out--those observers were withdrawn and the bombing commenced, supposedly to compel the Serbs to respect the Albanian population of Kosovo and to withdraw their troops. However, as might and should have been anticipated, that precipitated a massacre and resulted in the desperate exodus that took place; an exodus which should have been foreseen and for which no contingency plans were made.

Add to this the accidental but predictable bombing of innocent civilians, both Albanian refugee and Serb, and the irreparable damage to the country's physical heritage and modern infrastructure, and one has some idea of the appalling and catastrophic tragedy that has been created.

It is as if television and newspaper images of refugees and victims of Serb forces have conspired to give us a sense of moral superiority vis-a-vis the Serbs. Let us not forget that we are responsible for the accidental bombing of a civilian bus, the accidental bombing of a column of refugees that NATO was supposedly there to protect, and the deliberate bombing of the Belgrade television station which caused the death of innocent civilians. That is to name just some of the disastrous incidents that have occurred.

Moreover, originally the Government quite clearly expected the bombing to be over in a few days. They, and the Americans even more, seemed to view the action as some kind of video game--with this difference: that although there was no danger of casualties on our side, the enemy were flesh and blood

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and might be blown to smithereens. Surely that is an obscene idea. On the other hand, if, as we were assured at Question Time last week, the Government always knew that this would be a long haul, why was Parliament not consulted before we were led into this quagmire?

One thing is absolutely certain: this war cannot be won by either side. In the end, the only beneficiaries will have been the arms manufacturers. In addition to the billions of pounds that will have to be spent on the rebuilding of the former Yugoslavia and the resettling of hundreds of thousands of refugees, if peace is concluded on terms that are totally unacceptable to the Serbs, the deep resentment that will result will ensure that the instability that has plagued the region for centuries will continue.

10.18 p.m.

Lord Vivian: My Lords, I rise to speak drawing on some 37 years of military experience and a sense of outrage at this horrifying matter of ethnic cleansing and mass murder of the Kosovar people. I never thought that such a holocaust would take place in a civilised Europe. Such appalling atrocities, brutal killings, rape, pillage, the destruction of villages and forcing people to flee from their own homes, towns and villages to other countries have created conditions of a world disaster. NATO should carefully scrutinise its procedures to ensure that a similar situation can never occur again, but the immense difficulties of obtaining unanimous agreement among 19 different countries, with 19 different heads of state, 19 different foreign secretaries and 19 different chiefs of staff should not be underestimated, as many of your Lordships have said already.

Since the ethnic cleansing started just over a year ago, it has been estimated that some 1,200,000 Kosovars have become homeless and are now displaced people as a result of the most cruel savagery and barbaric acts. I am under no misapprehension whatever that this unacceptable brutality has to be stopped in a civilised Europe. If the tool to achieve this is NATO, so be it. I believe that intervention by NATO is justified, not only on humanitarian grounds but because a destabilised part of Europe, albeit outside the NATO area, is a threat to the stability of NATO itself.

It was quite clear that diplomacy failed at Rambouillet and that Milosevic had been given every chance to accept a proposed solution to this terrible situation in Kosovo. If NATO was to retain its credibility, it was necessary to take military action in order to attempt to prevent Milosevic's killer squads, the paramilitaries and the army from committing any more atrocities in Kosovo.

There is no doubt in my mind that a state of total war exists with Kosovo and Serbia and, from my studies of war some many years ago, there are two types of war. Limited war is similar to the Falklands, with limited aims and the avoidance of civilian casualties as far as possible. Total war is akin to the Second World War; the objective is to overthrow the enemy with no holds barred. It is to weaken his resolve and diminish the morale of the civilian population; to destroy his

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economy and wealth by the destruction of his industrial power; to deny his communication and to prevent propaganda to the people by the destruction of his radio and television stations; and to weaken and degrade his military capability by the destruction of his infrastructure and logistical systems. When this has been achieved--and not before--the enemy may then have been so weakened that the conditions should have been created to start an offensive with an intervention by ground troops. For NATO to win this conflict, a total war strategy has had to be adopted, but it should be understood that total war takes time to work. People must not be impatient but become resigned to that fact.

There are many examples of people saying that the political aims of this war are not clear. I have found them quite clear--and I agree with them. They are that there should be an immediate and total cease-fire--that is very clear; that Milosevic's killer squads, paramilitaries and army should completely withdraw, under verification, from Kosovo into Serbia; that conditions should be created for the return of the Kosovar refugees to their homes and villages in Kosovo; and that an international peace enforcement force, led and commanded by NATO, should be based in Kosovo to guarantee the safety of the Kosovars. I believe that Kosovo should become a United Nations protectorate with full independence.

As diplomacy has failed, military force has had to be used in an attempt to force Milosevic to accept NATO's terms. I fully support the action being taken. This action will lead to the severe degradation of Milosevic's military forces and should provide an opening for ground forces to intervene at a time of NATO's choice. At this juncture, Milosevic should come to terms with the situation.

Any open criticism is helpful to the enemy and most unhelpful to our own servicemen and servicewomen whose loyalty and courage should be praised whenever possible. Some editors of newspapers and television and radio stations have been of little assistance to our Armed Forces in this dangerous and difficult operation. I am surprised at the whingeing and whining attitude expressed by many people. Who are these commentators who have never smelt a sniff of gunpowder nor fired a shot with an automatic rifle in danger? Do they consider themselves to be more proficient and knowledgeable than the Chiefs of Staff? Do they know how to pilot an aircraft on a strike mission? Do they know how to manoeuvre tanks and to fire tank guns? Do they know how to command ships and submarines? It is high time that we heard no more from these commentators who have had no proper military experience or training.

I am sure that your Lordships would not want me to comment, criticise or speculate on our military strategy and tactics, as to do so would be assisting the enemy. Furthermore, to let the enemy know when we are going to start bombing and that their television stations are going to be a target on a particular night is nothing short of treason. Surprise is a very important principle of war.

However, there is one matter that I should like to address, and that is to inform your Lordships that I believe that the allied bombing campaign has been

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highly successful. Out of 15,000 missions, some 5,000 have been air strikes, of which 500 have been by the Royal Air Force. NATO has lost a total of only five aircraft in the whole theatre, with three pilots being recovered. Half the Serb fighter planes have been destroyed; elements of their air defences are no longer effective; a number of their SAM3 and SAM6 sites have been destroyed; oil; power; infrastructure; logistical installations; communication centres; and radio and television stations have all been targeted successfully. Military barracks and equipment, airfields, and even Milosevic's party headquarters have been successfully hit.

Some people have expressed their doubts as to whether this appalling slaughter on the part of Milosevic would have taken place if the air strikes had not been authorised. To those, I would say that the systematic and careful way those actions have been executed indicate that they were planned well before any NATO action and were not a panic reaction to the air strikes. There is no doubt that Milosevic was massing his tanks and troops around Kosovo before and during the Rambouillet talks. In fact, I believe it was the Germans who obtained what is now called the "Horse Shoe Operation", which in my opinion shows that this was no new plan, but something that had been carefully worked out before the first killings in February last year. However, it is probably true to say that Milosevic realised that he would have time to complete his ethnic cleansing programme as he knew that it would take some time for NATO to intervene with ground troops.

Perhaps I may now bring your Lordships' attention to future events. The first most important and critical factor is that NATO must win. NATO will win, but it will have to involve an intervention by ground troops after Milosevic has been softened up sufficiently. The Serb soldier is not 10 feet tall, and by Western standards is very poorly equipped with out-of-date equipment and not a good record of standing and fighting. He gave in quickly in Bosnia some recent years ago, and it was the Croats, not the Serbs, who harried and held up the Germans so well during the last war. It is essential that we accept only unconditional surrender from Milosevic and ensure that we achieve all our political aims, which include a fully independent Kosovo and not a partitioned state.

Even after Kosovo is declared a UN protectorate and Milosevic has withdrawn all his troops, there is likely to be a protracted terrorist and guerrilla campaign against the UN, which will be denied by Milosevic and with which the United Nations, with the help of the KLA, will have to deal. In these circumstances it may be worth considering the construction of an "iron curtain", similar to that which existed between East and West Germany, to surround Kosovo. That would extend for a distance of only some 350 miles. After the situation in Kosovo has settled down, with the terrorists in captivity, the patrolling of the iron curtain and the policing of the protectorate may be undertaken by other NATO and UN members, not the United States and the United Kingdom which can be released from that task to recover, reform and retrain; UNFICYP (United Nations Force in Cyprus) is a very good example of that.

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In conclusion, I emphasise that only a few years ago the West prevented the attempted ethnic cleansing of Bosnia by Milosevic and now it sees a repeat performance of butchery in Kosovo. Is it possible that NATO can forget the lessons learnt in Bosnia so quickly? Any force other than a NATO one may well be doomed to failure, as was the UN force deployed in Bosnia in the first instance. At the introduction of properly equipped NATO ground troops Milosevic promptly gave in. That is what he is likely to do if we intervene with a properly balanced force with sufficient troops to achieve our objectives at the time of our choosing. There must be no negotiation over any form of partitioned state: Kosovo must be fully independent.

Finally, I place on record noble Lords' immense gratitude to our brave and courageous servicemen and women, some of whom face death daily and yet are quite prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for their country to ensure that their own countrymen can live in peace. It is to these very special people that I give all my support and sincere gratitude. I wish them good fortune and pray for their eventual safe return to this country.

10.32 p.m.

Lord Desai: My Lords, first, I join the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, in the sentiments expressed towards the end of his speech. I, too, honour and salute the brave men and women of our Armed Forces. As I am the 36th speaker there is very little new to say. However, I begin by recalling that in 1931 Mahatma Gandhi visited London and during a round table conference he was asked what he thought of European civilisation. His response was that it would be a good idea. At the end of a century in which we have witnessed the most amazing violations of human rights and appalling genocide in Europe it really is time to say that these kinds of things should not happen.

All our consciences, including mine, are troubled by this, but I have no hesitation in supporting the Government and the alliance in what they seek to do. I shall try briefly to explain why. I am not a soldier and have never fought. I have never even been conscripted. Therefore, I have no expertise in military matters. However, we often speak of globalisation. It is now accepted that in economic terms we are becoming very interdependent. In economic terms countries accept that their sovereignty is seriously compromised by, if not the market, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and so on. But we are still reluctant to accept that doctrine in political and international matters.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, in a very remarkable speech that reflected the sense of today's debate, said that we could not accept the UN Charter as it is today because it places too much importance on national sovereignty and not enough importance on human rights. If we believe that human rights are universal, we should be able to enforce them.

Until recently we took for granted that the best protector of a people's interests is the state in which they live. I think that we can no longer continue to

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believe that. We have seen far too many examples of states violating the rights of their own citizens. When that happens we have to decide whether or not to intervene. I agree that there is no consistency in our position. We have not intervened every time we have seen violation of human rights. We let the genocide in Rwanda go without intervention. Pol Pot killed one seventh of his population and was still recognised by NATO and allies for a seat in the UN. Consistency is not the problem in this instance.

Within the borders of Europe there is a violation of human rights. It is not recent. It has been going on in Yugoslavia for the past nine years. We missed earlier chances. We were too late to intervene in Bosnia. We have intervened earlier this time.

I am clear that this is the new order, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said. No order is easy to establish. Establishing order is a violent act. In order to establish order, you go through the violence because you hope that at the end you will establish peace and order. In order to establish a framework of law and order, and the protection of human rights, you may have to bomb. When one bombs, mistakes are made. No perfect war has yet been designed.

There are no saints on either side. The human rights of these people had been violated before NATO started bombing. Mass graves were discovered in Kosovo before bombing started. The human rights of those people had been grossly violated. Therefore, it was right to intervene.

I am also somewhat pessimistic. I think that it will take a long time even to gain cessation of military hostilities, let alone peace. I know of no dispute, for example, in which the UN has intervened where the problem has yet been solved. I refer to Kashmir, Cyprus and Palestine--I could go on. We should not think that if the UN had been asked to intervene we should have had a swifter settlement of the dispute. But the UN is a flawed organisation, as the right reverend Prelate said. It gives too much power to the five Permanent Members of the Security Council. It creates a community of unequal nation states. Until we create a community of equal nation states with some kind of majority voting for some of these actions, we shall not have a framework of global governance. We have to work towards that framework because we cannot continue to behave as though we are a community of sovereign states. That model was broken long ago. Therefore we have to re-think these matters.

I am surprised at the unpreparedness of NATO. I thought that when there was no war military planners sat round with scenarios and simulations. Someone should have foreseen the perhaps small probability that if bombing began a mass exodus would commence. It is not the first time it has occurred; it has happened before. Someone should have worked out that bombing may not yield immediate returns and that we may have to be there for a long time. Someone should have worked out not one but many exit strategies and then chosen one. I am somewhat surprised that there has been such a lack of forward planning, but, as I said, I am not a soldier.

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Finally, I turn to reconstruction and development in what we should call south-eastern Europe and not the Balkans. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in that respect. Reconstruction will be required in the medium and short terms. After that, development expenditure will be required. While we do not have to do that yet, we should have larger scale planning than was discussed by the World Bank a week ago. Pitifully little preparation is taking place. If we can find 54 billion dollars for bank mislending in Korea--just because a bank misbehaved we had to stump up 54 billion dollars--we can think more ambitiously. The money can be raised not by taxpayers but perhaps on the markets. We ought to think comprehensively for the entire region of south-eastern Europe. Paradoxically, the World Bank was first set up primarily for the reconstruction and development of south-eastern Europe.

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