“Mad” Nick Cohen has a strange Grauniad piece on Tory isolationism, including an excellent anecdote about Scots Tory (remember them?) Malcolm Rifkind during the Yugoslavian comedy of the early 1990s:
Aides to Dole and McCain told him that Rifkind, whose experience of combat was limited to the backstabbing of the Scottish Conservative party, cried: ‘You Americans know nothing about the horrors of war.’ Dole, who had been blown up by a Nazi shell in the Second World War, walked out. McCain, who had been tortured for five years in a communist PoW camp, was so enraged by Rifkind that ‘a member of his staff feared he was about to hit him’.
For one, enraging a loony like McCain is worthwhile in and of itself. For two, as a Brit and a European, Rifkind had the absolute right to make the point he did, just as a well-educated middle class black man has the absolute right to talk about the plight of black people in general.
(for three, Rifkind’s policy was probably the right one. Recent experience suggests that the least-worst approach in a state which has turned into the kind of ethnic poison-fest that Yugoslavia reached after Tito’s death is to let populations segregate from each other as fast as possible, then send in peacekeepers once the dispute is one of territorial skirmishes over borders rather than neighbour-kills-neighbour…)
Update: Rifkind denies this is true – see comments. Pity…