Sunday, September 05, 2010

Tony Blair, Emotion & Politics

Charles Crawford, who was our ambassador in Sarajevo in the 1990s has written an absolutely fascinating account of a visit by Tony Blair to the Balkans in 1998. He catalogues how his spinmeisters took control of the visit and how Blair himself was curiously detached from the whole thing. He also reveals that Robin Cook had scuppered Blairs plans to make Michael Portillo the High Representative in Bosnia after the departure of Carl Bildt. As I say, fascinating stuff.

Read the blogpost HERE.


tapestry said...

The Blogpost incorrectly says Blair started at Oxford in 1975. He graduated in 1976 at age 23, and so, contrary to the assumptions made, could have coincided with Anji Hunter being at A level college while he was there.

Man in the Street said...

The longer you and your ilk give this warmonger the oxygen of publicity the better he feels.

All publicity is good publicity is his 'mantra'. His wife is as bad. If she can't get money out of it she'll, sure as hell will never freeze over, represent someone who can.

Are you going to Waterstones Piccadilly on Wednesday to protest against his abysmal foreign policy or just sniping from the sidelines?

If you are, I will see you there.

Anonymous said...

Narrow escape for Portillo.

Another reason why Cook was sacked from the FO.

Thorpe said...

I recall Charles Crawford's first visit as the newly appointed Ambassador to Bosnia Herzegovina to the British Headquarters in Banja Luka, perhaps a year before the events he relates here. Clearly a man of great intellect, but equally unable, and unwilling to communicate with senior military officers there. He was briefed extensively on military operations, the force posture and some of the local politics, but had no questions or, it seemed obvious, interest. A final 2 hour session of talks was planned one on one with the General, but he chose to leave early to return to Sarajevo.

All in all, we thought he was a w*nker, typical of the FCO.

kasou said...

Seems Labour are still at it, f**k the country lets play dirty and dirty the sandbox.

Jeez when will they ever stop acting like Nazis, and start to help make the UK a decent country again.

Time for the Torys to start digging dirt and publishing some horror stories, now with the kiss and tell memoirs it should easy.

kasou said...

So 2 Jags, 'I hate Royalty and anything to do with Nobs' LORD PRESCOTT, is jumping on the 'hacking' bandwagon...shame he didnt insist when his cronies were in power, then he might have got a Parliamentary Enquiry...but wait they had one didnt they ??

Jimmy said...

I'm sure the Defence Secretary in office as the UK sat on its hands during the massacres would have been a huge hit out there. Was Rifkind not available?

Thorpe said...

In reply to Jimmy.

Michael Portillo took over as Defence Secretary in July 1995, about a week before the Srebrenica massacre. Hardly enough time to influence British state policy.

The UK did not sit on its hands during the Srebrenica crisis and massacre. I worked in the UNPF HQ in Zagreb at the time - I was one of few UK officers there, and well wired into the UK Embassy in Zagreb.

The reality is that the Serbs were "lucky" in that they made decisive, and quick moves during a period of 30 hours of paralysis in the UN/NATO double key arrangement for NATO airstrikes in response to UN requests. Causes of that temporary - and ill-timed - paralysis were a personal spat between General Bernard Janvier, the UN Commander, and Yakushi Akashi, the UNSG, with both seeking approval for controversial positions. Upwards of 7,000 Bosnians died as a result.

As far as Britain is concerned, we had some military observers calling in Serb advances through the crucial period. In military terms, their advances were noted and reported upon. The Dutch had a Battalion in close proximity to Srebrenica and Potocari, and some observers who took over as the Serbs closed in. There was a constant NATO air presence above the Serbs, ready to drop bombs as soon as orders were given.

The orders were not given because there was a pissing contest going on between Janvier and Akashi, Paris and the UN HQ in New York, and ultimately between France and the UN.

When the orders were given, NATO had a pair of Dutch F16s on CAP. They were not equipped with laser guided bombs. The bombs they dropped fell about 200 metres from the targets - a pair of Serbian tanks. The Serbs seemed to take the near miss as a "warning shot" and surged forward to complete the encirclement of the Bosnians around the Dutch camp in Potocari. After that, history is well informed.

The UK did not sit on its hands.

Jimmy said...

Thanks for that perspective, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the sort of reponse meted out over Kosovo might have been more usefully employed earlier.