Conflict in the Balkans: Alan Clark’s View


Alan Clark is a right-wing Conservative MP and a former Defence Minister. We produce his view on the war in Yugoslavia for two reasons: (1) it exposes the hypocritical assertions of Clinton and Blair as to the justness of this war, and (2) it objectively gives a powerful support to the anti-war movement and at the same time puts to shame the Labour back-benchers, especially its so-called left-wing and their supporters in Trotskyite and revisionist circles. [Editor – Lalkar]

Sunday, March 28, 1999

The assertion that human rights within the boundaries of a sovereign nationare best defended by a sustained bombardment of its own civilian populationis, to put it most kindly, Orwellian. The notion that because a war is ‘just’ (by the aggressor’s definition) it can be prosecuted immediately, and without deference to international opinion is highly dangerous. It is to prevent exactly this that the UN’s Security Council mechanism came into being. Nato was conceived as a defensive alliance, its terms of engagement narrowly drawn; not as a ‘policeman’ surrogate for the UN; never as an apparatus for intervention in a civil war.

What amazes me about the Yugoslav crisis is the credulity of the Left, and of progressive thinkers, who seem to get a vicarious thrill from seeing B52s taking off from Fairford.

I address them: How have you swallowed whole the CIA-funded propaganda that demonises the Serbs? Are you not familiar with the duplicity and intimidation of United States foreign policy? That Ambassador Walker, in charge of monitoring forces in Bosnia, was financing the Contras? Have you no recall of that ‘Free World’ crap that embraced Battista, Noriega, Syngman Rhee, Bao Dai, Lee Van Thieu and Sukarno?

If you read Michael Rose’s Despatch you will see that the Bosnians mortared their own bread queue for a horror shot. If you talked to British soldiers you would learn that the KLA are gangsters indistinguishable (my analogy) from any warlord in Mogadishu.

In Yugoslavia there is a civil war. British soldiers are not mercenaries for one side or another where there is no threat to our citizens. The safest rule in such circumstances is, stick to humanitarian aid. What do you imagine so far is the cost? How much aid might this have funded?

The existing pitch of hypocrisy has certainly not been lessened by an embarrassing performance from the Prime Minister, who told us that the Kosovars were ‘our fellow human beings’. A curiously trite aphorism; unless by contrasting them with those of a different religions – the untermensch Serbs – it was intended to exculpate those who are (claim Nato press officers) dumping 400 Cruise warheads on Serbia every night.

Predictably Blair, after obliquely claiming credit for stopping a World War ‘which once started in Sarajevo’, repeated the line that ‘the conflict would not stop at Kosovo’.

There is no evidence whatever that the ‘conflict’ would spread outside the boundaries of Yugoslavia where, despite Western meddling, it has been confined for the last five years. To assert otherwise is no more than frightening your audience with a prediction you know to be improbable so as to claim credit for preventing it. Yet two more serious objections remain.

This is a US-driven operation and the US never intervenes objectively. It may be that the pressures of domestic politics oblige the President, as a distraction, to order the obliteration of a pharmaceutical plant in theSudan. Or it may be that considerations of oil brokerage, the ‘Seven Sisters’ and projected pipeline routes, prevent attention being paid to, or even mention made, of the genocidal Turkish campaign against the PPK. … There are risks as well as humiliations in Britain doing always what the US instructs. The second objection rests on the possibility, not to be lightly excluded, that Serbian resistance will hold.

All too easy, I fear, to predict the following: first, an escalation of aerial bombardment. The breadth and scope of the target area will be extended to include ‘government buildings’ in Belgrade. Next, variations on the ordnance deployed. Napalm will be used (only in an ‘operational’ context, of course) and, as spring foliage starts to give cover in the mountain defiles, Agent Orange will play its part (‘to save lives’). It will then be put about by tame commentators, docile back-benchers, and CIA remittance-men that some kind of intervention ‘on the ground’ is, first inevitable, then desirable. At once Russian volunteers, and the latest Red Army equipment will arrive. The US President, in difficulties with Congress, will have to revert to the clichés of the Cold War.

What is for sure is that the abstract concept of human rights will have faded a very long way out of sight.