Robin Cook is dead

by Chris Bertram on August 6, 2005

Robin Cook, former Labour Foreign Secretary and prominent critic of the Blair government over Iraq, “has died suddenly at the age of 59”: . His “resignation speech”: over the war will be remembered for a very long time. From that speech delivered on the eve of war:

bq. For four years as Foreign Secretary I was partly responsible for the western strategy of containment. Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam’s medium and long-range missiles programmes. Iraq’s military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf war. 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.



Anthony 08.06.05 at 2:14 pm

A sad day.

This quote from his 1997 speech is worth remembering:

Security, prosperity and quality of life are all clear national interests. Britain also has a national interest in the promotion of our values and confidence in our identity. That is why the fourth goal of our foreign policy is to secure the respect of other nations for Britain’s contribution to keeping the peace of the world and promoting democracy around the world. The Labour Government does not accept that political values can be left behind when we check in our passports to travel on diplomatic business. Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves.


Matt McGrattan 08.06.05 at 2:33 pm

This is a sad day. Cook displayed great integrity by saying that he would resign his government position of the war went ahead and then calmly and with great eloquence carrying through his intentions when it did go ahead.


Kevin Donoghue 08.06.05 at 3:35 pm

During the Cuban missile crisis JFK remarked that very few people have the courage to be sensible. Along with Hans Blix, Robin Cook was the best of the few in 2003.


Max 08.06.05 at 7:17 pm

A good exit from Parliament. A bit of a wobble over the sale of Hawk fighter jets to Indonesia but he finally came good. Sad to see him go.


Randy Paul 08.06.05 at 9:49 pm


Not to mention his, Straw’s and Blair’s caving on sending Pinochet back to Chile, but his principled stand on Iraq helped redeem him in my eyes.


nick 08.07.05 at 12:09 am

His voice will be missed.

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