It's exactly ten years ago this month since the sad death of the great anti-war journalist and writer Auberon Waugh, an 'Old Right' hero of the 'Old Left'.
Here's my tribute to Waugh from the anti-war (but not anti-Waugh) magazine The American Conservative.
Thank you for your letter. Would it give you comfort if I suggest you call yourself the Official Auberon Waugh Appreciation Society rather than the Unofficial Auberon Waugh Appreciation Society? I know of no rivals.
Of course I am trying to get Blair indicted for war crimes. It will take a bit of time and I fear I have rather squabbled with the Crown Prosecution Service over the years, but we must always hope for the best.
Auberon Waugh, Combe Florey, Somerset.
A copy of the fax that my friend Stuart Carr and I received from the late Auberon Waugh on June 6, 1999 is among my most treasured possessions. As two antiwar paleo-leftists living in Budapest, we had been appalled at Britain’s leading role in the bombing of neighboring Yugoslavia. Reading the British papers at that time was depressing—they were full of NATO propaganda about alleged Serbian atrocities; how Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav President, was the new Hitler; and why the war on one of Europe’s most Anglophile nations was such a good thing. But one voice stood out against the legion of bloodthirsty laptop bombadiers. It belonged not to a leftist but to a man described as the most reactionary conservative of his age.
Auberon Waugh hated war. He loathed the pomposity of Western politicians who thought they had a divine right to go around the world intervening in the affairs of sovereign states. Lots of people are calling for the arrest of Tony Blair for war crimes in 2010, but very few were doing so in 1999, when Waugh was. “The charge against Tony Blair is not so much that he took a very stupid decision … or even that his high moral pose may have been a front for ordinary self-importance and power mania,” Waugh wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “The reason that he must be arrested and brought to trial for war crimes is that we cannot allow this sort of thing to happen again. We cannot accept that the U.S., supported by any group of countries, may bomb any nation whose domestic policies it finds objectionable. Such a system would only work if the President of the United States were God, which he obviously isn’t and never has been.”
Sadly, Waugh did not succeed in his attempt to have the “twerpish” Blair arrested. Just 18 months after he penned his article, Bron was dead at the age of 61. No one else took up the task of trying to hold Blair to account, with the result that four years later the British Prime Minister did it all again—as Waugh had predicted—this time in Iraq, with even more bloody consequences than in Yugoslavia.
You can read the whole of the article here.