Issue 232 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published July/August 1999 Copyright © Socialist Review
As the war in the Balkans drew to an official close, a number of journalists and New Labour MPs leapt up to proclaim that the anti-war movement had been proved wrong, and that the 'appeasers' should apologise.
Leaving aside the tedious and petty name calling for the moment, I have to say that whether or not the might of Nato imposed a military defeat on the crumbling edifice of the former Yugoslavia was never the issue for the anti-war movement. We were more concerned that the stated aims of the war seemed to have little relation to the way the war was conducted, or indeed ended.I spoke on a number of anti-war platforms, forums, debates and teach-ins where, strangely, pro-war speakers had an amazing knack of not turning up. With a few exceptions they were hiding behind editorial desks or in the shadowy corners of the House of Commons. So confident were they of their moral crusade that they didn't deign to speak to the rooms full of students, workers and ordinary people who came to try and make sense of the war. So noble was their cause that they decided to treat anyone who didn't immediately spot this nobility with the contempt of their absence.
One and a half cheers, then, for those who did turn up. Yet again and again they could not answer--any more than the absentees could in their editorial columns or their parliamentary speeches--a series of key questions. So let me ask them again in the hope that somebody out there who believes this was a just war reads them and provides the answers.
When any of you answer these questions in a way that begins to make any sense whatsoever, then maybe we 'peaceniks' and appeasers, will take some notice and treat you with some respect, but in the meantime we shall treat you and your insults with the contempt you and they deserve.
More than that we will remember. We will remember all the 'socialists' and 'lefties' who helped sell this war, who joined in the nasty little crusade against the war's opponents, all those who forgot all they ever knew and became toy soldiers from the safety of their lounges.
We will certainly remember a New Labour government that in two years was involved in more military carnage than the Tories were in the previous 18. We will remember how money was saved on disability payments at home while money was spent creating disability abroad. We will certainly remember Blair, Clinton's Poodweiler, yapping for more death, greater carnage, further bloodshed, and calling it 'the moral high ground'.
We will remember most of all because, as a result of your escapade, we live today in a world considerably more unstable and barbaric than it was yesterday.