Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Robin Cook

Robin Cook said the Iraq war was against British interests.

On the same page as the obit below of Ibrahim Ferrer.

Who was right? Blair, or Cook? Too soon to tell.

Robin Cook, a former British foreign secretary who quit the government to protest the invasion of Iraq, died on Saturday after collapsing in the Scottish Highlands on a mountain called Ben Stack, the police said, without explaining the cause of death. He was 59.

Mr. Cook was close to tears in March 2003 when, as leader of the House of Commons, he rose on the very eve of battle to tell legislators that he did not believe an Iraq campaign had either international or domestic support and therefore, "with a heavy heart," he was quitting the government.

In a letter to Mr. Blair at the time he said: "In principle, I believe it is wrong to embark on military action without broad international support. In practice, I believe it is against Britain's interest to create a precedent for unilateral military action."

By resigning, Mr. Cook brought himself into line with a broad swath of the British population that was opposed to a war without a United Nations mandate and in alliance with a disliked American administration.

But he also set himself against Mr. Blair at one of the most critical moments of the prime minister's career. In British politics, Mr. Cook's action - defying his party at a time of national crisis - was seen as a rare display of principle at personal and political cost.

Robin Finlayson Cook was born near Glasgow and studied English at Edinburgh University. He had planned further studies in divinity but suffered doubts about his religious belief. He was known thereafter for twin passions - politics and horse racing. He wrote newspaper columns on both.

Quite a change in direction.

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