So now the late Robin Cook has an inscription carved on his gravestone
"I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war."
Apart from the false claim of it - declaration of war still remains the royal prerogative of the Prime Minister regardless of whether on one occasion a prime minister , safe in the knowledge that he could secure a majority , debates the issue in Parliament , it seems that Robin Cook has had himself raised to the heavenly heights of a saintdom.
But he did support war , although just not the Blair-Bush 2003 Iraq War - and that simply puts him on the same level of saintliness as another well known anti-Iraq war politician - Vladimir Putin , the Chechens Slaughterer .
"He was at heart very much a pacifist and also a champion of the underdog and the vulnerable," Mr Cook's first wife said
"Robin Cook was a terrible loss because he was the one cabinet minister who showed any signs of a principled opposition to war and had the courage of his convictions..." said Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition
Just how much truth is there to such glowing praise ?
Cook became Tony Blair's first Foreign Minister and proceeded to grandly announce that :-
" Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension ... The Labour Government will put human rights at the heart of our foreign policy..."
Well , we have a Foreign Ministry under Cook which was aware of illegal arms trading to Sierra Leon and the use of a mercenary company , contrary to a UN Arms Embargo . Not a very good start .
Then we have the Indonesia and East Timor debacle . Using lawyers loop-holes , Cook authorised the continuing export of Hawk fighter aircraft to Indonesia , fully aware that Indonesia had used them to attack the East Timorese . In the first two years of the Blair government, over 50 export licenses were granted to sell arms to Indonesia , In the same period over a million pounds of British taxpayers' money was spent training dozens of Indonesian military officers at a base near Hull.
Champion for the under-dogs , indeed !!
Then comes the Kosovo War , another war that possessed no UN legitimacy whatsoever , that Robin Cook stood 100% behind , suggesting it to be a "humanitarian" war .
Far from averting a mass humanitarian crisis, it is clear that the NATO attack created the major escalation of killings and expulsions. The flood of refugees from Kosovo began immediately after NATO launched its attack. War could have been averted
" negotiations [ Rambouillet Talks] have led to a consensus on substantial autonomy for Kosovo, including on mechanisms for free and fair elections to democratic institutions, for the governance of Kosovo, for the protection of human rights and the rights of members of national communities; and for the establishment of a fair judicial system." [Feb 1999]
However , the Albanian, American and British delegation then signed what became known as the Rambouillet Accords . The Accords called for NATO administration of Kosovo as an autonomous province within Yugoslavia; a force of 30,000 NATO troops to maintain order in Kosovo; an unhindered right of passage for NATO troops on Yugoslav territory, including Kosovo; and immunity for NATO and its agents to Yugoslav law. The American and British delegations knew that the new version that amounted to a NATO occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia would never be accepted by the Serbs .
Civilian targets in Serbia were deliberately targeted by UK/US bomber aircraft as Cook knew only too well and which he turned a very convenient blind eye to , like any real politik politician would .
Now to the Iraq war , the war that Cook receive so many plaundits for being opposed to .
This was , of course , the Foreign Minister who was in full support of the sanctions system that led to the death of an estimated half a million children . HALF A MILLION DEAD CHILDREN .
Nor shall we forget Cooks contribution to the withdrawal of the UN inspectors , ( yes , the withdrawal , not kicked out by Hussein ) when the UK/US launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998 . The operation included more than 600 sorties, including 300 night strike sorties, flown by more than 300 combat and support aircraft. Aircraft employed 600 pieces of air-dropped ordnance, 90 air-launched cruise missiles, and 325 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles .
“… we took that action precisely because there was no co-operation with UN weapons inspectors at that time” - Robin Cook
That was a lie . UNSCOM inspectors had visited some 300 sites in the month prior to Desert Fox, at only 5 of which was there any problem about access, and at none of which was access refused. IAEA inspectors had no trouble at all.
But many will forgive all those previous transgressions because of that principled stand against the 2003 Iraq war .
How many remember him marching or speaking on the anti-war protests - no-one - he avoided directly associatng with the anti-war movement .
In March he resigned and voted against the government over the war . Yet the previous month he voted FOR the government . He could not bring himself to support an anti-war amendment . And then previously in November 2002 he declined to go along with other Labour rebels and vote in favour of a Lib Dem motion against an Iraq war without further UN authorisation .
Robin Cook - pacifist , humanitarian , principled - Don't make me larf , i think not .
Further reading :-
The Dark Heart of Robin Cook's " Ethical" Foreign Policy
Robin Cook - Man of Integrity ?