Issue 232 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published July/August 1999 Copyright Socialist Review

Stack on the back

Any answers?

'When you look at the bloody mess and the huge instability it has created in the region, do you really think your war was worth it?'

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.

  • How did bombing the hell out of Kosovo and causing the exodus of a million people help the Kosovan Albanians?
  • How will destroying the economic infrastructure help those who return?
  • How can the use of depleted uranium and the like liberate anybody?
  • How did the continual killing of Serb civilians in Belgrade and elsewhere help the cause of liberation?
  • Why was a war waged ostensibly against Slobodan Milosevic when all his opponents acknowledged it made opposition to him almost impossible?
  • At what point did Nato become a humanitarian body interested in peace, justice and human rights?
  • At what point did the US, prosecutor of the Vietnam War and backer, donor and co-conspirator of every tinpot South and Central American Milosevic, become the champion of the oppressed?
  • At what point did Wesley Clark, propagandist of the Vietnam War and apologist for the My Lai massacre, become someone we should trust?
  • Why, if ethnic cleansing was the main reason for this war, is Israel--which is the major postwar ethnic cleanser--still the recipient of more US aid than any other country?
  • How, if Nato was truly on a moral mission, could it possibly involve Turkey, a far greater ethnic cleanser and slaughterer of its Kurdish population then anything seen in the former Yugoslavia?
  • How is it that a human tragedy in Montserrat can be greeted with sneers about golden elephants, or the victims of a human tragedy in Ethiopia are left to rely on Bob Geldof, but as soon as the human tragedy is seen to require military involvement government purses become bottomless?
  • Why, if Rambouillet was really a 'settlement negotiation', did it make impossible demands such as the right of Nato to complete access to all of Yugoslavia, and extraordinary conditions about the economic running of Kosovo as a free market economy?
  • Why, if the exclusion of the Russians and the above conditions were worth killing over, were they dropped from the final agreement?
  • Why, if the war was for the Kosovan Albanians, were all demands about national independence also dropped?
  • How do you think a number of former Soviet republics deciding to return to a nuclear option as a result of the bombing make the world a more peaceful and harmonious place?
  • When you look at the bloody mess that now exists and the huge instability it has created in the region, do you really think your war was worth it? If so, please explain it to the rest of us.

    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.
    Pat Stack


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