Did I Say That?

Four years after the national socialists and fascists and chauvinistic Serbian irredentist nationalists unleashed by Slobodan Milosevic on the FYR had been delivered a long overdue bloody nose by the NATO-led Operation Deliberate Force, the Chetniks sought to go huzzar again against Kosovar Albanians and others.

Given that the UN-led missions to Bosnia had resulted in the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Bosniak civilians in the name of peace (including reports of civilians attempting to flee across Sarajevo airport runway initially having spot-lights turned on them so to avoid charges of partiality, and being promptly shot by snipers), there was a feeling in NATO and associated governments that harsh language would not help the Kosovars.  Thus, Operation Allied Force was started, and Slobby Dan driven back… and then handed over by an exhausted Serbian nation.

We never will know what precisely was planned for Kosova, but given that the final loss of UN-control over Bosnia came when thousands of men and boys were executed in open-air killing fields outside Srebrenica, caution was err’d on and the outcome proved welcome.

Except, that not all British politicians thought so.  Then merely the leader of a minor Westminster group, and without the responsibilities of national political leadership, Alex Salmond declared Operation Allied Force to be “an action of dubious legality and above all of unpardonable folly”.

Two years on, when he had been shown to have been unduly pessimistic, in a rare moment of contrition, Salmond admitted he had been wrong to use those precise words.  Yet, he remained convinced that non-military means should have been sought.  Whether or not he had been asleep during the 1990s as genocide appeared in Europe for the first time in 50 years whilst British and French diplomats as well as debatably-named anti-war polemicists covered themselves in glory during their unfinest hour, or he did not consider the Bosniaks to have been fully paid-up members of nation states – unlike those jolly good chaps, the Serbs, who wore uniforms and threw spiffing parties – I do not know.

I do not care.  He subscribed to the national myth of the time that the Serbs were an embattled people, who always had thrown-out invaders, from 1389 to the Nazi invasion; as opposed to those rallying cries having been called by a ethnic patchwork from across the region.  A man who is currently constructing a national myth of a homogenous mass known as “Scotland” being historically oppressed by a poorly-defined homogenous mass known as the “English” went doe-eyed in the face of Serbian fascists (so, not entirely tongue ‘n cheek, I wonder what his views are on Radovan Karadic’s attempts at Denial).

Scroll on nine years, and we see the SNP-list MSP for Scotland South, Aileen Campbell tabling a parliamentary motion to congratulate Kosova on achieving formal independence.  I have no knowledge of Campbell’s past views on Kosova (she would have been only 19), but doubt that Salmond would now citing it as an example of a small independent nation for Scotland to emulate.

Others in Holyrood thought similar, and suggested that Salmond’s tendency to reflexively oppose a foreign policy position based on its support by the British Government points to his unsuitability for senior political position.  Typically, the response was one of passive aggression and difficulty in appreciating why Salmond should face negative comeback for his actions and words.



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