At the start of the war in Kosovo, I wrote that British liberals have a fine tradition of opposing unjust wars, on the one condition that the war has already ended.
And here we are. Over the past week, the most bomb-happy liberals have been fidgeting uneasily, as if their collective line is: "So Bill Clinton was lying - well who'd have thought it?" They are like people who, when a neighbour turns out to be a serial killer, say, "We had no idea, they were so polite. Most of the time Nato just kept themselves to themselves. That Jamie Shea even lent me his jump leads."
At the time, daily press conferences demonstrated how the bombs were hitting their targets with "laser precision". Now it is admitted that several missiles landed in Bulgaria. Call me a perfectionist, but should not "laser precision" mean hitting the right country? Would a postman be able to claim "laser precision" if he got most of his letters through the right doors in Willesden, only occasionally overshooting and delivering a parcel to Bulgaria?
There is the bridge that a Nato pilot bombed twice, as a train approached, full of passengers who were subsequently killed. The pilot could not have known the train was there, insisted Nato, and to prove it it showed us film of the train approaching at high speed. But it now admits that the film was shown at double speed. It was a deliberate lie, or maybe Jamie Shea's granddad was operating the remote control and he's never got the hang of such things. Which is also the reason why there is no film of the bombing of the Chinese embassy; Jamie's granddad accidentally wiped it by recording Heartbeat over the top of it.
The embassy, it is now tacitly accepted, was bombed on purpose. Which is more plausible than the original explanation, that Nato had the wrong map. Was the whole operation run by a minicab firm? Perhaps the place that was supposed to be bombed was ringing Nato, asking where its missile was, and Wesley Clark kept saying it would be with them in a few seconds, before finally admitting, "Sorry, guvnor, he's gone to the wrong place. I can get a B52 out your way in 40 minutes."
The war was supposed to create the conditions for a multi-ethnic Kosovo. Now few Serbs, Jews or gypsies dare go near the place. The irony is that the most multi-ethnic city in the Balkans now is Belgrade. The anti-war movement was accused of supporting Milosevic, in response to which we pointed out that the bombing was making him stronger. This week, a typical Radio 4 report from Belgrade began, "Milosevic is more entrenched than ever."
Nato consistently denied using depleted uranium, with its devastating long-term effects, until last week, when Lord Robertson admitted in a letter to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that it was used "throughout Kosovo during approximately 100 missions... 3,000 rounds of DU ammunition was used in Operation Allied Force".
Was Nato lying originally? Or did it just not notice the stuff? Maybe it was like a household of students bunging all the ingredients from their kitchen cupboard into a stew, thinking, "God knows what this is but we might as well sling it in." Then, afterwards, saying, "Blimey, whatever that was, it burns your face off."
And there are the refugees, in whose name the whole thing was fought. But the refugee crisis began on a massive scale only after the bombing had started. The one thing that the refugees do have to be grateful for is that Jack Straw was not Home Secretary in Macedonia. As they queued for food, Straw would have yelled at them to stop begging and thrown them back over the border for being bogus asylum-seekers, shouting "Your turn, Widdecombe: top that."
But there are some who have benefited from the bombing. Mark Laity's reports have got him a job with Nato. Jamie Shea has become a celebrity and must be expecting his own gardening programme. Or maybe we'll see Changing Rooms with Jamie Shea, where you move out for the weekend and, when you return, your house is a heap of rubble. And George Robertson is now Lord Robertson, the head of Nato. He admits to "difficulties" and says there is "more to do".
More to do! You've covered the place in depleted uranium and cluster bombs. You've killed people on bridges, in trains, in marketplaces, in refugee convoys, in television centres and in a Chinese embassy. You've taken what little multi-ethnic community existed and destroyed it. You've strengthened the tyrant you were supposed to oppose. You've made a refugee crisis hundreds of times worse and poured filth on to the same people at home, and now you want to do more.
It is like a builder coming to your house to fix a plug socket, and while there he burns the whole street down. Then he says, "I admit there is more to do."Reuse content