Tuesday :: Apr 27, 2004

British Diplomats Berate Blair and Condemn Bush's Mistakes


by Mary

It seems strange that today while the US troops use heavy armaments to smash neighborhoods in Fallujah and encroach into Najaf to swipe at Sadr, the futility and insanity of the US "war on terrorism" actions are clearly articulated in the letter sent to Blair by 52 former British diplomats. As many other sensible and wise people have concluded before, the Bush administration policies are wrong and they are creating a terribly bad situation for the world.

Quote from the letter: We share your view that the British government has an interest in working as closely as possible with the United States on both these related issues, and in exerting real influence as a loyal ally. We believe that the need for such influence is now a matter of the highest urgency. If that is unacceptable or unwelcome there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure.

Remember, Britain invaded and occupied Iraq for a number of years early in the 20th century. They also thought their overwhelming technological advantage would keep the Iraqis in line and they used their advanced weapons (bomber planes) to terrorize the Iraqis, all to no avail. Their historians remember why Iraq was not going to be such a cakewalk and they also understand it could get worse; much, much worse. And it did, until they got out.

Juan Cole posts the whole letter which I reproduce here.

Protest Letter of 52 British Former Diplomats to Blair on Iraq Policy
byline Juan Cole

The letter is worth reading in full, and probably it is also worth googling the signatories. It is extraordinary how terrified these experienced diplomats are, and amazing that these men who spent a lifetime practicing discretion would now speak out. I understand that the British special envoy in Iraq, Jeremy Greenstock himself, agreed with the substance but declined to sign because he was too close to the action. This letter is canary in the mine material, and should alarm everyone concerned with the situation in Iraq. They clearly are afraid that the 7500 British troops and administrators in Iraq are in severe danger from Bush/Blair policies, and that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's policy of "negotiation by murder" has the potential to set the whole region aflame, just as, in some ways, it already has Fallujah.

Dear Prime Minister,

We the undersigned former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials, including some who have long experience of the Middle East and others whose experience is elsewhere, have watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close co-operation with the United States. Following the press conference in Washington at which you and President Bush restated these policies, we feel the time has come to make our anxieties public, in the hope that they will be addressed in Parliament and will lead to a fundamental reassessment.

The decision by the USA, the EU, Russia and the UN to launch a "Road Map" for the settlement of the Israel/Palestine conflict raised hopes that the major powers would at last make a determined and collective effort to resolve a problem which, more than any other, has for decades poisoned relations between the West and the Islamic and Arab worlds. The legal and political principles on which such a settlement would be based were well established; President Clinton had grappled with the problem during his Presidency; the ingredients needed for a settlement were well understood; and informal agreements on several of them had already been achieved. But the hopes were ill-founded. Nothing effective has been done either to move the negotiations forward or to curb the violence. Britain and the other sponsors of the Road Map merely waited on American leadership, but waited in vain.

Worse was to come. After all those wasted months, the international community has now been confronted with the announcement by Ariel Sharon and President Bush of new policies which are one-sided and illegal and which will cost yet more Israeli and Palestinian blood. Our dismay at this backward step is heightened by the fact that you yourself seem to have endorsed it, abandoning the principles which for nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land and which have been the basis for such successes as those efforts have produced.

This abandonment of principle comes at a time when rightly or wrongly we are portrayed throughout the Arab and Muslim world as partners in an illegal and brutal occupation in Iraq.

The conduct of the war in Iraq has made it clear that there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement. All those with experience of the area predicted that the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition forces would meet serious and stubborn resistance, as has proved to be the case. To describe the resistance as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful. Policy must take account of the nature and history of Iraq, the most complex country in the region. However much Iraqis may yearn for a democratic society, the belief that one could now be created by the Coalition is naive. This is the view of virtually all independent specialists on the region, both in Britain and in America. We are glad to note that you and the President have welcomed the proposals outlined by Lakhdar Brahimi. We must be ready to provide what support he requests, and to give authority to the United Nations to work with the Iraqis themselves, including those who are now actively resisting the occupation, to clear up the mess.

The military actions of the Coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theatre itself, not by criteria remote from them. It is not good enough to say that the use of force is a matter for local commanders. Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Falluja, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition. The Iraqis killed by coalition forces probably total between ten and fifteen thousand (it is a disgrace that the Coalition forces themselves appear to have no estimate), and the number killed in the last month in Falluja alone is apparently several hundred including many civilian men, women and children. Phrases such as "We mourn each loss of life. We salute them, and their families for their bravery and their sacrifice", apparently referring only to those who have died on the Coalition side, are not well judged to moderate the passions these killings arouse.

We share your view that the British government has an interest in working as closely as possible with the United States on both these related issues, and in exerting real influence as a loyal ally. We believe that the need for such influence is now a matter of the highest urgency. If that is unacceptable or unwelcome there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure.

Yours faithfully,

Brian Barder
Paul Bergne
John Birch
David Blatherwick
Graham Boyce
Julian Bullard
Juliet Campbell
Bryan Cartledge
Terence Clark
David Colvin
Francis Cornish
James Craig
Brian Crowe
Basil Eastwood
Stephen Egerton
Dick Fyjis-Walker
William Fullerton
Marrack Goulding
John Graham
Andrew Green
Vic Henderson
Peter Hinchcliffe
Brian Hitch
Archie Lamb
David Logan
Christopher Long
Ivor Lucas
Ian McCluney
Maureen MacGlashan
Philip McLean
Christopher MacRae
Oliver Miles
Martin Morland
Keith Morris
Richard Muir
Alan Munro
Stephen Nash
Robin 0'Neill
Andrew Palmer
Bill Quantrill
David Ratford
Tom Richardson
Andrew Stuart
David Tatham
Crispin Tickell
Derek Tonkin
Charles Treadwell
Hugh Tunnell
Jeremy Varcoe
Hooky Walker
Michael Weir
Alan White

Mary :: 10:15 PM :: Comments (1) :: Digg It!