Elsie Tu

Foreign intervention can help save lives

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2001, 12:00am

Elsie Tu is wrong when she writes, 'Whatever happens within any country is for the people of that country to deal with themselves, without foreign interference' ('China's past an internal matter', South China Morning Post, August 27).

This is, of course, the line peddled by those seeking to defend the indefensible - for example, Tiananmen Square, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. These are innocent-sounding euphemisms used to cover up the suffering, starvation and death inflicted on millions of Chinese as a direct result of their own government's actions.

Translated from the Little Red Book of Gobbledygook (Asian Values section), it apparently means 'mind your own business'.

Mrs Tu castigates the US for its failure to bring Japanese war criminals to justice. It is true, Japan was to some extent 'let off the hook' at the end of World War II, its leaders largely going unpunished for the dreadful acts they ordered to be committed against their neighbours and the Western allies - unlike the postwar Nuremberg trials of leading Nazis.

To the question whether the US would have 'tolerated' foreign interference in its Civil War - in fact, it had no choice. The 19th-century colonial powers mainly helped the Confederacy - but, thankfully, were unsuccessful.

Today's territorial disputes (Ireland, Palestine, Tibet) are grey areas of conflict where foreign powers, and the United Nations are unwilling or unable to intercede. Against that, foreign intervention in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia might have prevented many more killings.

But what about the recent human tragedies of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chechnya, East Timor, Myanmar and Rwanda? Would Mrs Tu simply shut her eyes to the mass murders that have occurred when the so-called civilised nations sit back and do nothing?


Wan Chai