Dea Sir,
Further to Carole Griffen's letter (Saturday) about the guy “conning” people in the patio area of the airport.
This guy approached me recently on the pretence that his brother was picking him up from Cala Ratjada but hadn't turned up and he needed money for a taxi.

I asked him how he could be so stupid to think that I would imagine he had come all the way from abroad without baggage and enough money to get him to Cala Ratjada ... naturally, he didn't pester me any more but he did manage to extract five euros here, ten euros there from unsuspecting passengers.

After he exited the patio area I followed him and where did he go? Straight to the chemist to purchase a hyperdermic needle...

Name and address supplied

Airport scam 2

Dear Sir,
Re the letter today (9th November).
The man has approached me EVERY time either at the bus station in Palma or at the Airport in the last 2 years or so. On the occasion at the bus station, because I had a 3 hour wait, he approached me 3 times with 3 different excuses. He obviously has no memory for faces. After all, most people are only there for short periods so he doesn't have to. By the time he has got round everyone, the place is full of new ones! This man makes a living out of this, just watch him going from person to person. It must be obvious to officials at both these locations, but presumably they won't do anything about it. They are both technically 'private property' and he could be banned from them.

He never asks for a fortune and everyone I saw being approached appeared to politely say “no”. However, there will always be the innocent, naive, kind hearted one who will say “yes” and maybe a dozen or so of these a day will be enough.

There may be no criminal offence being committed, but he could have his wings clipped. He is obviously giving Majorca a bad name. I once threatened to call the Police but he just smiled and walked off.

Mike Lyons, WILTSHIRE. U.K. By e-mail

Meaning of resolution

The award for the most skewed headline of the year must surely go to one of Murdoch's broadsheets for last Thursday's “Buoyant Bush wins mandate for war”. Did the American people know they were voting to go to war with Iraq? True, the fight against terrorism is much in their minds but many think it is separate from and more important than Iraq. In any case, was there not the unresolved matter of the UN resolution on Iraq to be settled before “Buoyant Bush” could go to war?

That resolution has now been approved unanimously – a considerable achievement for all those concerned – and Saddam Hussein has been put on the spot.
But uncertainty remains about the sequence of events should Iraq refuse to co–operate at all or drags its feet once the Weapons Inspectors begin work. In either the UN Security Council will meet to consider what should be done. President Bush has said that if Iraq's non–compliance is clearly proven, military action under UN auspices should follow without any further resolution. However, the resolution passed on Friday does not say this and several Security Council members made clear when voting that they reserve their positions on follow–up action. Reliable reports from the UN say that the US Ambassador to the UN John D Negroponte “extended a specific assurance to France and other doubting nations that the resolution 'contains no hidden triggers' and no automatic basis for the use of force.” Yet this assurance appears to be at odds with President Bush's (and Blair's) position.

Ray Fleming

NATO begins to change

The doctrine of pre–emptive strikes against a potential enemy, which is at the heart of America's new strategic security thinking, seems likely to be adopted by NATO in the near future. At its annual summit meeting, to be held in Prague later this month, a new counter–terrorist role for the Organisation is likely to be unveiled. Matters have moved on considerably since NATO offered total solidarity and support for the United States in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

That offer was not taken up – much to the chagrin of NATO's top brass – but from subsequent discussions the idea has emerged that NATO should be able to send troops to any country in the world that requires help in destroying terrorist groups operating on its territory. Such a role would clearly go beyond NATO's existing remit but last week Secretary–General Lord Robertson spoke about a new policy that would involve “defending or deterring a terrorist attack and, if required, destroying terrorist groups”. He acknowledged that such “deterrence” could include pre–emptive raids and also said that he saw no difficulty in acting to stop a terrorist attack when there was evidence of an imminent threat.

NATO has been slow to adjust militarily to the changed strategic situation in the world following the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War, although it has been more flexible diplomatically by bringing in new member states from East Europe. Even a decade ago, would it have been conceivable that a NATO summit meeting could be held in Prague?