The football nearly drove me to tears today.
As a Swindon Town supporter, this isn’t necessarily uncommon. But this emotion came from a completely different source.
As God Save The Queen started playing in the Fadil Vokrri stadium, the local Kosovan fans all held up England flags.
Twenty years ago, Tony Blair was instrumental in preventing unimaginable horrors, forcing the withdrawal of Serbian troops. Today Kosovo is a partially recognised state, taking its first steps as an independent nation. Today there are adults in Kosovo named Tonibler.
It isn’t always easy to feel proud of England on the world stage, but the intervention in 1999 was an unequivocally successful one, which undoubtedly prevented horrendous suffering, and allowed the Kosovans to have a country of their own.
This is a lesson for the left; forever seeing Iraq as being the only reference point for foreign policy. When Jeremy Corbyn says we have not fought a just war since 1945, when Owen Jones says he has opposed every single Western military intervention in his lifetime, we must understand what this means. It means they are completely relaxed about people in faraway countries being crushed by dictators and tyrants, provided that we have nothing to do with it.
To oppose the Kosovan intervention at the time on the grounds that it may have made things worse may have been justifiable. But to continue to maintain your opposition now, given the clear evidence before us, is ideology pushed to the point of madness. And it is to ignore the countless testimonies of those involved.
When I was in Pristina, I listened to a guide in the Kosovo museum talk of how happy her family were when they heard that NATO was to intervene. This regressive left isn’t actually interested in hearing from those actually involved in the situation; this is all grandstanding against the evil west.
This isn’t progressive. It isn’t progressive or internationalist to turn a blind eye to mass suffering and murder if we can help. A Kosovan life is worth just the same as ours; Syrians deserve peace and democracy as much as we do.
It is rare that I turn in to England games and feel pride, but seeing the sea of St George’s crosses held aloft by Kosovans today reminded me that we can be a force for good in the world, that interventions can save lives, and that the left will be hopelessly lost on foreign policy for as long as it allows Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne to speak for it.