The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Robin Cook: BRING OUR LADS HOME

Mar 30 2003
Let's send Rumsfeld and his hawks to war instead
By Robin Cook

This was meant to be a quick, easy war. Shortly before I resigned a Cabinet
colleague told me not to worry about the political fall-out.

The war would be finished long before polling day for the May local elections.

I just hope those who expected a quick victory are proved right. I have
already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. I want our troops
home and I want them home before more of them are killed.

It is OK for Bush to say the war will go on for as long as it takes. He is
sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David protected by scores of security
men to keep him safe.

It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the poor guys
stuck in a sandstorm peering around for snipers.

This week British forces have shown bravery under attack and determination
in atrocious weather conditions. They are too disciplined to say it, but
they must have asked each other how British forces ended up exposed by the
mistakes of US politicians.

We were told the Iraqi army would be so joyful to be attacked that it would
not fight. A close colleague of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
predicted the march to Baghdad would be "a cakewalk".

We were told Saddam's troops would surrender. A few days before the war
Vice-President Dick Cheney predicted that the Republican Guard would lay
down their weapons.

We were told that the local population would welcome their invaders as
liberators. Paul Wolfowitz, No.2 at the Pentagon, promised that our tanks
would be greeted "with an explosion of joy and relief".

Personally I would like to volunteer Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz to be
"embedded"  alongside the journalists with the forward units.

That would give them a chance to hear what the troops fighting for every
bridge over the Euphrates think about their promises.

The top US General, William Wallace, has let the cat out of the bag. "The
enemy we are fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed".

War is not some kind of harmless arcade game. Nobody should start a war on
the assumption that the enemy's army will co- operate. But that is exactly
what President Bush has done. And now his Marines have reached the
outskirts of Baghdad he does not seem to know what to do next.

It was not meant to be like this. By the time we got to Baghdad Saddam was
supposed to have crumpled. A few days before I resigned I was assured that
Saddam would be overthrown by his associates to save their own skins. But
they would only do it "at five minutes past midnight". It is now long past
that time and Saddam is still there. To compensate yesterday we blew up a
statue of Saddam in Basra. A statue! It is not the statue that terrifies
local people but the man himself and they know Saddam is still in control
of Baghdad.

Having marched us up this cul-de-sac, Donald Rumsfeld has now come up with
a new tactic. Instead of going into Baghdad we should sit down outside it
until Saddam surrenders. There is no more brutal form of warfare than a
siege. People go hungry. The water and power to provide the sinews of a
city snap. Children die.

You can catch a glimpse of what would happen in Baghdad under siege by
looking at Basra. Its residents have endured several days of summer heat
without water.

In desperation they have been drinking water from the river into which the
sewage empties. Those conditions are ripe for cholera.

Last week President Bush promised that "Iraqis will see the great
compassion of the US". They certainly do not see it now. They don't see it
in Baghdad. What they see are women and children killed when missiles fall
on market places. They don't see it in Basra. What they see is the
suffering of their families with no water, precious little food, and no
power to cook. There will be a long-term legacy of hatred for the West if
the Iraqi people continue to suffer from the effects of the war we started.

Washington got it wrong over the ease with which the war could be won.
Washington could be just as wrong about the difficulty of running Iraq when
the fighting stops. Already there are real differences between Britain and
America over how to run post-war Iraq.

The dispute over the management of the port of Umm Qasr is a good example.
British officers sensibly took the view that the best and the most popular
solution would be to find local Iraqis who knew how to do it. Instead the
US have appointed an American company to take over the Iraqi asset. And
guess what? Stevedore Services of America who got the contract have a
chairman known for his donations to the Republican Party.

The argument between Blair and Bush over whether the UN will be in charge
of the reconstruction of Iraq is about more than international legitimacy.
It is about whether the Iraqi people can have confidence that their country
is being run for the benefit of themselves or for the benefit of the US.

Yesterday there was a sad and moving ceremony as the bodies of our brave
soldiers were brought back to Britain.

The Ministry of Defence announced that they were to be buried in Britain
out of consideration for their families. We must do all we can to ease the
grief of those who have lost a husband or a son, cut down in their prime.

Yet I can't help asking myself if there was not a better way to show
consideration for their families.

A better way could have been not to start a war which was never necessary
and is turning out to be badly planned.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]