Monday, August 08, 2005

robin cook the warmonger

He has been called 'one of the most principled... politicians of our time'.

Give this a few seconds thought and you realise the benchmark's not that high, rather like being the tallest dwarf. Still, there's been a deluge of this stuff saying how noble he was, resigning because of the Iraq war because he was such a man of integrity who could never sanction war without good reason.

In their 1997 election manifesto, Labour promised 'an ethical dimension' to their foreign policy.

After Labour won power and Cook became Foreign Secretary, he made a statement saying that there would be a ban on the sale of arms or other equipment 'which has obvious application for internal repression, in cases where the recipient country has a significant continuing record of such repression'.

Indonesia's occupation of East Timor involved, proportionally speaking, the largest act of genoocide in history. Over 200,000 people, a third of the population, were killed.

A British Aerospace factory in Lancashire had been making Hawk jets for Indonesia, sold as 'training' aircraft readily converted to frontline attack planes. Cook knew the ruse, and indeed in 1994 told the House of Commons 'Hawk aircraft have been observed on bombing runs in East Timor in most years since 1984'.

In January 1996 peace activists broke into the British Aerospace factory and smashed up a Hawk destined for Indonesia. They then called security and were arrested.

Their defence in court was that they were preventing a greater crime; the crimes against international law being perpetrated by the Indonesian military in East Timor with those Hawk jets. They were acquitted; the court accepted that Hawks were indeed being used as frontline weapons in the mass killing of an illegal occupation, in breach of UN, EU and British laws and regulations.

One of the first deeds of Cook's tenure in the Foreign Office was to allow 16 Hawk jets to Indonesia.

Whilst the export licenses were granted by the Major government, and Cook said through his junior minister Derek Fatchett there was no power to revoke the licenses, the government's own annual report on arms sales clearly acknowledged that they did indeed have the power. They just chose not to use it.

In the first two years of the Blair government, over 50 export licenses were granted to sell arms to Indonesia, many of which will have been for use in the genocide in East Timor. 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. This compares with just one being trained under the previous Major administration.

This was assitance to a brutal war that Cook knew all about, was in a position to stop assisting, had promised to do so, and yet chose instead to continue and escalate.

Even after he lost such power when Blair demoted him in 2001, he didn't feel any stirrings of conscience.

He resigned after disagreeing with the second vote to go to war with Iraq; but in the first one a month earlier he voted against a resolution saying 'the case for military action against Iraq as yet unproven'.

To see which of the votes was the incongruous one for Robin, consider that he was the man who'd presided over four years of the enforcement of sanctions against Iraq. Those sanctions denied essential medicines and were directly responsible for killing far more people - and predominantly the sick, the very young and very old - than the war.

The resignation vote came from a man whose career was on the slide, who'd just seen his last attempt at a grand project (reform of the House of Lords) get binned and so had little to lose. It was anomalous in the career of a man who, like any other major politician, talked peace and justice in opposition but was bent over for the Big Business warmongers once in power.

Once again, I warn you to beware of this sort of revisionist sycophantic shite when Thatcher goes. And once again, thank fuck for Harry Hutton.


Anonymous said...
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Jim Bliss said...

"... the greatest human of his generation."