Constitutional Matters

Alex Salmond MP

Throughout its life online the Baronage magazine has consistently insisted that whatever the merits for and against independence for Scotland, Salmond is unfit to be the nation's leader.

This has been demonstrated never better than in his television broadcast of 29th March, during which he described NATO's action against President Milosevic as "unpardonable folly" in pursuit of "misguided policy" and described NATO's attacks as comparable with the raids by Germany's Luftwaffe on Clydeside.

If Salmond had considered the Kosovo situation seriously, instead of attempting to exploit it for domestic political advantage, he would have taken advice on the personal character of Milosevic. He would then have learned that the persecutor of the Kosova people was a socialist who, as Salmond himself, had learned to use nationalism to further his personal political and economic aims. He would have learned also that Milosevic was the product of a system that had produced national leaders who were wholly impervious to the pain of their people, who believed military strength to be the ultimate arbiter of power, and who could, in search of glory, send hundreds of thousands to gruesome death.

He would have learned that Milosevic's actions could be predicted by anyone who had studied, as has Milosevic, the writings of the ancient Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu.

Then he would have understood that Milosevic expected to win his confrontation with the Western powers, and with NATO, their warfighting organisation, because he understood their weaknesses and understood the relevance of his own strengths.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sun Tzu III, 18

The speed at which the clearances began, immediately following the withdrawal of the observers, and exploiting NATO's reluctance to begin bombing ("going the extra mile for peace" as it was explained), showed that Milosevic had planned every detail carefully.

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sun Tzu I, 26

So much was clear when Salmond spoke. It was clear also that Milosevic, bred as a communist, schooled in Marxist-Leninism as well as Sun Tzu, viewed war unemotionally as a tool of policy, and recognised that while it would be critical for the survival of Yugoslavia and would accordingly unify the country, bringing to the battle every national resource, it would not be so for the enemy, NATO, which would find discordant opinion among its ranks and would be half-hearted in its approach.

And thus Salmond, if he had thought for just a little while before he spoke, understanding Milosevic's confidence, could have called on Scotland to offer full support for the Government's action and could have demanded of NATO's member countries that there would be no half-measures.

Airpower, he might have said (if he had stopped to think), is to be used not in penny-packets (as NATO began its campaign), but in accordance with the tried and proven principles of war. This means that it should exploit SURPRISE, SHOCK, MOMENTUM, MASS, CONCENTRATION and SATURATION. If it is to be used strategically, he might have said, it should target the critical national systems (electrical power, oil refineries and fuel storage, computerisation, command and control facilities), not empty barrack blocks and dummy tanks and guns. And it should never be subject to a long and slow escalation that innoculates the enemy against the surprise, shock, momentum, mass, concentration and saturation that wins wars ~ for that is a sure recipe for a long war, a long war that NATO does not want, a long war in which the refugees' hardships will cause many deaths.

And, if he had stopped to think, Salmond might have concluded that the worst way to fight this war would be to use airpower without the accompanying threat of overwhelming ground forces ready to be unleashed without warning, and he could have attacked the Government (if he had wished) for its lunatic insistence on promising, in blatant opposition to all the principles of war, that ground forces would not he used (thus giving Milosevic an immensely valuable operational freedom to deploy as he wished, plus the strategic confidence that against such political immaturity he could not fail to win his objectives).

All this Salmond might have thought. But Salmond does not think. He babbles.

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