Free Life 30, May 1999, Editorial: Happy Anniversary, Mr Blair! by Sean Gabb

From Free Life, Issue 30, May 1999
ISSN: 0260 5112

Editorial: Happy Anniversary, Mr Blair!
by Sean Gabb

We have now had a Labour Government for two years.  It was my intention to celebrate this lamentable fact by dwelling on Mr Blair’s domestic record.  This is a catalogue of constitutional vandalism and petty tyranny.  There is, however, the burning and unavoidable scandal of our involvement in the Serbian War.

Mr Blair has committed us to attacking a country with which we have no quarrel.  The Serbs have not raised a finger against this country.  They have not attacked or threatened any of our allies.  They have not offered aid to any of our likely enemies.  We are at war because of acts allegedly committed by the Serbian Government on Serbian territory against Serbian civilians.  We have no clear aims in this war, and the few aims hinted at are beyond all reasonable achievement.

Still worse, the war is being fought by methods increasingly vile and barbarous.  We were told at the beginning that the mere threat of action would frighten Mr Milosevic into complying with NATO wishes.  When this proved untrue, we were told that a few cruise missiles would bring him to order.  After this, it was to be the destruction of obvious military targets in and around Kossovo.  As I write, the bombing offensive has become a campaign of indiscriminate terror.

We have bombed a convoy of the Kossovar refugees who are the excuse for the war, and a bus loaded with civilians, and a crowded railway train.  We have bombed a television station, killing journalists and makeup girls, because it was presenting the war from the Serbian point of view and refusing to carry six hours every day of NATO propaganda.  We have bombed factories and railway stations and bridges that are part of the military economy only in the sense that infant schools might be training grounds for future soldiers.  We have bombed historic town centres and irreplaceable works of art.  We have bombed the house of Mr Milosevic in some failed attempt at political assassination.  We have bombed Bulgaria by mistake and Montenegro.  Most recently, we have bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three diplomats and injuring dozens of others.

Of course, when I say “we”, I do not mean exclusively the British Government.  Around 90 per cent of the high explosive raining down on the Balkans is American.  But the next largest amount is British.  And loudest by far in favour of this war has been the British Government.  During the past six weeks, we have been treated to the shocking spectacle of New Labour jingoism.  The Government front bench is crowded with notorious pacifists from the 1970s and 80s.  Many of them belonged to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  They denounced the Cold War and the Falklands War.  They protested against the siting of American forces in this country.  They showed an unrelenting hatred of the armament makers.  In their “ethical” foreign policy, I did expect endlessly stupid moralising – and a little hypocrisy, as the bribes began to have effect.  But I never expected this.  I never thought they would drag the country into an aggressive war.  Nor did I ever think the Ministers would justify every atrocity with such gloating bad faith.

“Every target hit is a legitimate one”, comes the lying propaganda out of London:  “The real blame for every one of the dozen of so Serbs killed every day lies with Slobodan Milosevic for his refusal to do our bidding”.  I used to believe that people like Clare Short and Robin Cook were stupid, but I never thought them capable of reckless evil.  Put reversed balaclavas on their heads, and give them an Ulster accent, and they would be indistinguishable in their justifications of terror from the IRA murderers they are now releasing onto the streets.

Perhaps one reason for their demented warmongering is that they have seen the bills.  When it started, the British part of the war was costing an affordable £4 million a day.  Within a month, the daily cost had risen to £35 million.  It may now be costing £50 million a day.  Even without rising further, that is £1.5 billion a month, or over £18 billion a year.  How are they to keep that up without wrecking their financial policies?  They dare not pull out of the war.  Unlike the French and Germans, they are among its main projectors and must stand or fall by its outcome.  And so, like some unlucky gambler, they are staking all their remaining credit on one last spin of the roulette wheel.  They are crying up a ground offensive, and in the meantime are helping do to Serbia what Lord Harris did to Hamburg and Dresden.

It will not succeed.  Whatever the immediate outcome of the Serbian War, the future reputation of the Blair Government has already been determined.  And that reputation is as the darkest mud.  Let Mr Blair take what pleasure he can in the glow of today’s opinion polls and the flattery of today’s newspaper articles.  He will die reviled for his crimes, and his children will seek refuge in their mother’s name.

Happy Anniversary, Mr Blair!

Sean Gabb

© 1999 – 2017, seangabb.

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