23rd May 2012
This post follows on from here – ICC trials. Britain stopped “war crimes” in Balkans & Sierra Leone. Why no press mention of OUR role?
MEANWHILE AT THE HAGUE
The Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial in The Hague 20 years after the start of the conflict. He is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.
Again at The Hague Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has already been found guilty at the Special Court for Sierra Leone of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and conscripting child soldiers. After a trial of several years which started in Sierra Leone and was moved for Taylor’s security reasons to The Hague, judges at the U.N.-backed court said his aid was essential in helping rebels across the border in Sierra Leone continue their bloody rampage during the West African nation’s decade-long civil war, which ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.
That would be this Sierra Leone.
And yet some braincell-challenged
twerps tweeps still see Tony Blair as being just as culpable of chargeable war crimes as Taylor and (the as yet unconvicted) Mladic, the forerunner of this kind of Kosovo ethnic cleansing. After Srebrenica we can’t say we hadn’t been forewarned.
It is true, and some might suggest it is shameful, that John Major’s Conservative government was not moved to intervene as Mladic killed tens of thousands on Europe’s doorstep. Not that John Major was the only European or international leader to ignore Bosnia. They all did. Once in office Tony Blair made it clear he was no John Major. He even persuaded President Bill Clinton how best to deal with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Miloševic and his cronies over Kosovo atrocities.
Clearly my responsibilities and moral rectitude compass is out of kilter with the norm. What we SHOULD be doing is applauding John Major for er… doing nothing.
The excuse by some for seldom if ever praising Blair is that Iraq was the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, perhaps even lies. Therefore it follows, goes this ‘thinking’, that Blair was always wrong and always a liar. Even when he was right and clearly not lying. That utterly wrong-headed excuse has no traction as to whether we should thank Tony Blair for what he and his government did in a European country and in an African country at the turn of the century.
The only things that should embarrass us about our approach to Blair’s foreign policy is our own lack of common sense, our short political memory, our lack of support for oppressed peoples and with regard to Blair himself – our sense of fairness, even courtesy.
LOVED BY THE POLITICIANS (mostly), HATED BY THE BIASED
In fact real practising politicians do not hate Tony Blair as do many so-called columnists and their little commenters at such as the Daily Mail, Guardian and Independent. The Conservatives were more gung-ho for the Iraq invasion than were some in Labour and it was only through their support that he had parliamentary permission to go to war. To the present Tory part of the frontbench he is still “The Master”. The Chancellor, George Osborne is said to enjoy listening to Blair recite his audio version of his memoirs “A Journey”. And we all know where David Cameron gets his hand gestures from.
What of the other half of the coalition? The Liberal Democrats have long been against the Iraq war. That position is the reason I am never likely to vote for them again. But they are not all so lacking in international political nous. Alex Carlile worked under Blair & then Brown from 2005 to 2011 as the independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws. And former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown was recommended by Blair as High Representative for Bosnia & Herzegovina, a position he took up in May 2002. Ashdown had been a long-time advocate of international intervention in that region.
On 14 March 2002 former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown testified as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of Slobodan Miloševic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell at the Hague in March 2006. He had faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s. He’d also faced genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 100,000 people died.
Our media is being deliberately obdurate in its determination to elevate its Blair hatred to impenetrable heights, or rather to depressing depths.
It is already guilty of failing to notice that Tony Blair was right on our Responsibility to Protect as mentioned here.
The apparent side-stepping even deliberate ignoring of actions of which we as Brits should be immensely proud is only the next step on its “Let’s Get the Real Criminal” game.
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