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Robin Cook questions Iraq threat

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posted on Mar, 18 2003 @ 03:20 PM
Here are exerpts from Robin Cook's resignation speech in the house of Commons.
The full text's available here :

I applaud the heroic efforts that the prime minister has made in trying to secure a second resolution.
But the very intensity of those attempts underlines how important it was to succeed.
Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.

France has been at the receiving end of bucket loads of commentary in recent days.

It is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany wants more time for inspections; Russia wants more time for inspections; indeed, at no time have we signed up even the minimum necessary to carry a second resolution.

We delude ourselves if we think that the degree of international hostility is all the result of President Chirac.

The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner - not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.

To end up in such diplomatic weakness is a serious reverse.

Only a year ago, we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I would ever have imagined possible.

History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.
Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.

Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate.

Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.
The legal basis for our action in Kosovo was the need to respond to an urgent and compelling humanitarian crisis.

Our difficulty in getting support this time is that neither the international community nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq.

The threshold for war should always be high.

None of us can predict the death toll of civilians from the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq, but the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at least in the thousands.

Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days.

We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat.

Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.

It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories.

Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?

Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam's ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?

Israeli breaches

Only a couple of weeks ago, Hans Blix told the Security Council that the key remaining disarmament tasks could be completed within months.

I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted.

Yet it is more than 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.

I welcome the strong personal commitment that the prime minister has given to middle east peace, but Britain's positive role in the middle east does not redress the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest.

Nor is our credibility helped by the appearance that our partners in Washington are less interested in disarmament than they are in regime change in Iraq.

That explains why any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction but with consternation: it reduces the case for war.

Presidential differences

What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.

On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain.

They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own.

Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies.

posted on Mar, 21 2003 @ 02:33 AM
I'm a brit, and 90% of the time I'm proud of it. Not proud to have been born on any particular peice of earth, nor proud of the country's political heratage (let's not forget that we can lie, cheat and murder with the best of them). I'm especialy not-bloody-proud that the House of Lords is filled with hereditary peers, that the monarchy continues to nibble away at the tax payer's purse or that we haven't won the world cup in my lifetime, and probably never will.
What I am proud of, most of the time, is the level headedness of the average brit' on the street. We're to the point, say-what-we-bloody-well-like and can generaly be relied upon to get a job done if it needs doing.

However. There is one aspect of the British people of which I am truly ashamed, and that is our absolute inability to elect as prime minister anyone who is actualy capable of running the country in acordance with the way people think it should be run.

Cook's gesture was very touching in a this-is-so-fake-i-might-just-puke-blood kind of a way. Let's face it, Blair's out at the next election, no two ways about it and damn right too. He's flown completely in the face of public opinion, and put us out of grace with every non-trigger-happy nation in the UN. He's left us looking no better than the Americans (the powers that be, not the citizens who live under them). We're now seen as savages, where as once we were seen as the saviours of Europe, and (at least, most recently) we have Mr Blair and the man holding his leash to blame.
Cooks resignation was rather dramaticaly timed and entirely theatrical in all respects. Designed to get attention from the press and from the public. He's taken very clever advantage of a very messy situation, and I wouldn't be atall suprised if he winds up as PM in the foreseable future. I'm afraid, once i factor in this information, that i have trouble beleiving his motives are pure. The man called his wife from the airport to tell her he was leaving her. You think he'd gave a damn about looking into a camera and telling a bare-faced lie? In short, he's just as crooked as any politician anywhere on this Earth. Probably no better than Tony, who's certainly no better than Maggie ever was.

[Edited on 21-3-2003 by Rex_Monday]

posted on Mar, 21 2003 @ 05:36 PM
It's by no means certain Tony Blair will be out at the next election. The only way the electorate can vote him out is if he loses his seat. Given the amount of Labour MP's who voted against him- more than half his backbenchers- and the disarray opposition parties are in, Labour will probably gain a third term. Blair's position depends on his his own party's MPs.
Should Blair face a leadership challenge, his strongest opponent would be Gordon Brown, who has done a decent job as Chancellor and, crucially, not pissed anyone off majorly.
I remember hearing that before Tony Blair's election, he agreed with Gordon Brown that he would resign the position in favour of Brown during his second term in return for Brown's unwavering support. If he does intend this, it would explain a lot, including his casual destruction of the public's trust in him.
Robin Cook? He has public support and backbench support. I have no doubt he'll hold on to his seat. To gain the Premiership after pissing off a lot of the party's leaders? Tricky. Not impossible, but tricky. And I think he wouldn't have gambled his position as Leader of the House on such a slim chance.

Oh, and the monarchy makes England an absolute fortune in tourism, as well as providing a focus for national identity that is separate from politics. Imagine if the hero-worship a lot of people focus on the Queen was focused on the PM? It'd be like... well, America and their President. (note: I'm applying this to the Queen. Not Prince Charles, as he is a muppet.)

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