It is worth for a moment contrasting the level of vitriol directed at Mr Blair with the general indifference shown towards former Conservative Prime Minister John Major. Mr Major was the leader of the Conservative Government at the time of the infamous Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s worst war crime since 1945. During the Bosnian war, 8,000 Bosnian Muslims from the town of Srebrenica were rounded up and killed by the Bosnian Serb army under the command of Ratko Mladic. In classifying the massacre as an act of genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia described the events as follows:
“They [members of the Bosnian Serb army] stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity.”
Nato did eventually intervene in Bosnia, but not until a good deal of blood had already been spilled. Robert Hunter, the US ambassador to Nato from 1993 to 1998, believes the government of John Major was partly to blame for the massacre for obstructing intervention by the UN or Nato. “The failure of Nato to reach agreement on serious military action,” Mr Hunter says, “can be attributed to the efforts of one allied nation: Great Britain.”
“Britain,” he adds, “has a huge burden of responsibility for what happened at Srebrenica.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Defence Secretary under the Major government until July 1995 and thereafter Foreign Secretary, was one of the architects of Britain’s disastrous policy in Bosnia. Responding to a proposal by the US Senator Bob Dole to lift the arms embargo and allow the Bosnian government to defend itself, Mr Rifkind told him that “You Americans don’t know the horrors of war”, not realising Dole had fought in the Second World War and been left permanently disabled.
As far as I am aware, none of the events that Mr Major has attended as a prestigious after-dinner speaker have ever been besieged by placard-waving anti-war protesters. The first question which strikes you then is: is war only bad when the Americans and the British intervene? That certainly appears to be the position of the Stop the War Coalition, who forget a lesson most of us learned in the school playground as children: inaction is often the same as intervention on the side of the aggressor and against the victim. Getting this point across to anyone who considers a bullet from a British or American gun to be the world’s greatest abomination will undoubtedly be like trying to fill with water a bucket that has a hole in it. But then it is quite possible that a concern for human life is not the main motivation for those screeching obscenities at Tony Blair anyway, in which case an argument like this will always be one that is wasted.Previously: An extraordinary claim - the comparative appallingness of the West during the Bosnian crisis; The backlash and where it will take us; The conservatism of the anti-war "radicals"; Conservatism, realism and the anti-war movement; Loveable Tories.