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Robin Cook’s Crystal Ball

“You’d have been hard pushed to find anyone who didn’t think he (Saddam) had WMD.” – Tony Blair at the Chilcot enquiry.

The following passage is from Robin Cook’s resignation speech on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Inexplicably the speech contains a paragraph expressing support for Blair. One can only assume that some extreme misguided personal loyalty to his colleagues on the Labour benches elicited such a eulogy. Taking the rest of the speech into consideration it is difficult to see how Cook could have had anything other than contempt for Blair.

“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?”

Another prominent person in the know also rubbished claims that Iraq had WMD. Doctor David Kelly was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a wood days after being questioned by a parliamentary committee about what he had said during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan.

The Hutton Inquiry into the events surrounding Dr Kelly’s death, ruled that he had committed suicide and hadn’t in fact said some of the things attributed to him in the Gilligan interview. Into the bargain, Hutton ordered that the details on the post mortem of Doctor Kelly be kept secret for seventy years. This prompted the Independent newspaper to publish its famous “whitewash” front page.

Robin Cook also died suddenly in a remote location and you’ll find plenty in the rather more conspiratorial corners of the internet to say that he was murdered by MI6.

I don’t know about that.

I do know one thing, Cook was right in almost every respect in his resignation speech, except in his misguided compliments to Blair.

Blair was probably the most mendacious scheming bastard of a Prime Minister in my lifetime.

And yes, she’s included in the calculation.


War Criminals – It’s Official

During evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the war against Saddam, it emerged that Foreign Office lawyers were “unanimous” in their view that going to war without a United Nations mandate would be a “crime of aggression” likely to damage Britain’s standing in the world.

Sir Michael Wood, chief legal adviser at the Foreign Office, painted a vivid picture of how his team repeatedly intervened privately to correct ministers who were stating that a fresh UN resolution was not legally necessary, but their advice was ignored.

A secret letter was dramatically declassified midway through the hearings showed that Jack Straw, the then-foreign secretary, told his chief legal adviser that he was being “dogmatic” by warning that war would be illegal.

In what was described as a highly unusual move, Mr Straw wrote to Sir Michael, a renowned expert in international law, boasting that while home secretary he had ignored official legal advice “time and time again”.

The inquiry also heard that Lord Goldsmith, the then-Attorney General, changed his mind over the space of a week about the legality of the war after being ordered during a meeting chaired by Tony Blair to “reflect further”.

The process was described at the hearing by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Sir Michael’s deputy, who resigned over the war, as “lamentable”,

It emerged that Lord Goldsmith was told to provide a “yes or no” answer on the eve of the Iraq invasion, before finally giving the view that war without a UN mandate would be legal after obtaining a written undertaking from Mr Blair that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with weapons inspectors.

So, bearing in mind that this is official confirmation that the former Prime Minister of the UK and his cabinet at first ignored the legal advice of all its top advisers and then leant heavily on one of them to change his mind, what do you think will happen?