But the failure to achieve a second, explicit, U.N. resolution was a political problem, not a legal obstacle. Few of the anti-war movement care to recall that the Kosovan War was, if anything, predicated upon a flimsier legal case than the Iraqi intervention. ~Alex Massie
One of the reasons why I keep revisiting the illegality and immorality of the intervention in Kosovo long after most people have forgotten about it is precisely because so many opponents of the Iraq war don’t want to acknowledge that Kosovo was every bit as unjustifiable and wrong as Iraq was. By endorsing the war in Kosovo even now, as Obama did again in Oslo, many opponents of the Iraq war have opened themselves up to the attack that Iraq hawks were using from the beginning. If someone pointed out that invading Iraq would violate international law and not have U.N. sanction, the hawks would throw the precedent of Kosovo in his face. Unless he was a principled progressive or antiwar conservative, the opponent of the invasion was always at a loss to respond. If invading Iraq was based on phony or exaggerated intelligence about WMDs, Kosovo was based on lies about preventing genocide and protecting human rights. Unless you are among the fairly small percentage that opposed both, the odds are that you are outraged over invading Iraq in inverse proportion to how outraged you were over bombing Serbia.
Inexplicably, Kosovo is remembered across much of the spectrum, especially the center-left, as a great success, despite having been disastrous for the very people it was supposed to help and despite being based on lies every bit as blatant and outrageous as the invasion of Iraq. As it hapened, Blair was Prime Minister during Britain’s participation in both wars of aggression. As far back as 1999, he has been the chief proponent of liberal interventionism aimed at subverting the normal protections of international law afforded to sovereign states, and he continues to be an outspoken advocate for killing foreigners for their own benefit. What is disheartening about all this is not just that Blair will never be held to account for his responsibility for the war in Iraq, but that he has never had to answer for or defend his decision to support an unprovoked, unnecessary war of aggression against Serbia.
Even though the air war led to the expulsions of Albanians from Kosovo it was meant to prevent, and even though the “negotiations” at Rambouillet involved delivering an intolerable ultimatum designed to start a war, this criminal operation continues to enjoy support or indifference from most Westerners. There were no allied casualties, and the war was brief, so there was little time for the publics in NATO nations to grow weary and disgusted with their criminal leaders. The war was over relatively quickly, so the media lost interest in the false atrocity stories that the Clinton administration used in its war propaganda, and the previous decade of constant anti-Serb coverage made the public receptive to whatever lies the administration wanted to tell.
What I can say about Blair is that he has been quite consistent. State sovereignty and international did not matter to him in 1999, and they didn’t matter to him later in 2002-03. Given his remarks at the Chilcot inquiry about Iran, I am quite sure that he would have no difficulty supporting and even joining in an illegal attack on Iran were he still a minister in the British government. This makes him one of the most unabashed, unapologetic advocates of aggressive war alive today, and I’m not sure that this requires much courage when there have been and continue to be absolutely no consequences, legal or otherwise, for his actions.