2 MAY 1987, Page 5


THE decision of the United States Justice Department to bar Dr Kurt Waldheim from visiting the United States must give rise to serious misgivings among those who believe in American justice. For the second time in a month, the United States administration has juggled the rules of natural justice. First the Estonian Linnas was handed over to the Soviet Union to be tried by a system of justice never recog- nised by the West. And now Dr Waldheim, disagreeable and evasive though he is, has been condenined in absentia and barred from visiting the United States. Dr Wald- heim was not invited to defend himself nor was the prima facie evidence against him considered worthy of publication. Rather, in the unfortunate words of the World Jewish Congress, he has been told that he is 'not fit to breathe the same air as Americans'. It is hard to avoid the view that the United States Justice Department has been acting in the interests of a powerful Jewish lobby. Until it publishes its evidence this is the most likely inter- pretation to be placed on its decision by those in Austria, and far from hastening Dr Waldheim's disappearance, it can only rally those who like to believe Dr Wal- 'dheim is the victim of that age-old Austrian fantasy 'the world Jewish conspiracy". By simply not extending an invitation it might have been possible to mobilise elements in Austria which are in touch with reality to persuade the President to retire. By mak- ing him a martyr, the issue of his inability to meet the moral criteria normally re- quired of a Western European leader is submerged.