Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Robin Cook's legacy

Following the death of Robin Cook many anti-war groups are 'mourning his death' according to the BBC. One ‘Stop the Coalition Campaigner’ said he would be “sorely missed”. Robin Cook had been a an inspiration to the anti-war movement and a thorn in the side to the Blair government. His question over the policy over Iraq eventually led to his resignation, as Foreign Secretary, on the eve of war. In his departing speech he said, “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? 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.” His concern was also the loss of life that would result. “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.” Various independent ‘think-tanks’ have reported the death toll as high as 100,000, though conservative figures place it between 23,000 and 26,000. [complete speech] And the death toll on all sides continues to rise. More than 2000 coalition personnel have died since hostilities. Thirty six US troops have been killed in the last week alone, over half that lost in July. As well as those killed, there is an ever increasing rise in injured servicemen. Nearly 14,000 US personnel have been wounded since the conflict began in March 2003, just over 7000 of which have returned to duty. Ninety three British troops have so far been killed in the same period, wounded figures are not available. Recent events have been little reported on most news outlets, though CBS often has a nightly round-up, if somewhat brief. The London terror attacks have instead dominated the news with little or no mention of the two attacks on US troops in Haditha, north west Iraq, last week. Nineteen troops from a Reserve Unit in Ohio, were killed in an insurgent ambush [Mon 1st July] as well as roadside bomb attack [Wed 3rd July]. The huge bomb had been placed under the road, detonating as a US armoured vehicle cross over. Fourteen were killed. USA Today has reported the Regimental Combat Team 2 has made “repeated requests” for additional troops only to have them refused. Attacks on Iraqi police and army units, as well as civilians, by insurgents and suicide bombers, has continued relentlessly. On Monday alone there have been several attacks throughout the country. In Samawa, in the south, insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at police in a second day of unrest. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters demanded the governor's resignation and better services. Police shot and killed one protester and wounded 40. The bodies of five policemen, shot dead and thrown in a river, were found in the northern town of Samarra. They were on their way home for vacation when they were killed. A translator working at Baghdad's Doura power station was shot dead, a source at Yarmouk hospital told Reuters. In Fallujah, a suicide bomber attacked a U.S. patrol, west of Baghdad, Iraqi police sources said. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the U.S. military and no word on casualties. And two employees of the Iraqi state-owned North Oil Company were shot dead by gunmen in Fatha, 75 km southwest of Kirkuk. In reaction the US has launched another in a serious of anti-insurgent operations. Operation Quick Strike was launched Wednesday, backed with fighter jets, near the city of Haqliniyah in western Iraq. Robin Cook would certainly not have taken pleasure in being right over his predictions on Iraq, but his legacy will live on. In the sense that he was one of the strongest voices against the war in Iraq, there will no doubt be a sigh of relief in certain quarters of government. One would hardly believe he had any enemies, what with the many politicians suddenly singing his praise in the hours following his death. Tony Blair said, following the announcement of his death, "Robin was an outstanding, extraordinary talent - brilliant, incisive in debate, of incredible skill and persuasive power." Evidently not persuasive enough.
[01:36 GMT 09/08/2005]

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