Friday, March 22, 2013

The Last Straw:
Britain’s Former Foreign Secretary Regrets One War, Tries to Avoid Another

Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn and former British Foreign Secretary, 2001-2006

Nearly a decade ago, on April 2, 2003, British parliamentarian Jack Straw was steadfast in his support for the recent invasion of Iraq. “Saddam's removal is necessary to eradicate the threat from his weapons of mass destruction,” insisted Straw, who was then serving as Tony Blair’s Foreign Secretary.

Years later, in testimony before the UK’s Iraq Inquiry, Straw regretted his critical involvement in the decision to go to war. Saying he acted "on the basis of the best evidence available at the time,” Straw spoke of the “profoundly difficult moral and political dilemma" he had been faced with, especially considering his belief that the official U.S. policy of regime change in Iraq to be "improper and unlawful."

The overhyped threat of Saddam’s weapons capabilities - pushed by British intelligence in September 2002 - was, in Straw’s estimation, “an error that has haunted us ever since.”

Such errors, if the recently renewed threats of war emanating from both Washington and Tel Aviv are to be believed, are currently being repeated. This time, however, Jack Straw isn't taking the bait.

In an oped published late last month in The Daily Telegraph, Straw outlined the importance of continued negotiation and diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program and the absurdity of threatening military action.

In clear prose that would never make it into most mainstream American publications, Straw noted the often-ignored history of Western colonial and imperial actions against Iran and clearly laid out Iran’s own position. He explains:
What Iran seeks is twofold. First, it wants its “full rights” under the NPT for civil nuclear power. It can fairly point out that three nuclear weapons states – Israel, India and Pakistan – have always refused to join the NPT, while North Korea, now boasting about its atomic capability, withdrew from the Treaty in 2003. Second, it seeks an end to its international isolation and a recognition (especially by the US) of its regional status.
Straw added, “Normalisation of relations with Iran is also an important prize for the international community,” as Iran could help stabilize regional conflicts from Syria to Afghanistan. He also urged the immediate “reopening of the embassies in Tehran and London” and rightly derided Netanyahu a “belligerent cheerleader for the war party against Iran.”

While expressing his belief that the leadership in Tehran may want the “intellectual capacity for a nuclear weapons system, but will stop short of making that system a reality,” Straw still pointed out that, even if he was wrong, “a nuclear-armed Iran would certainly not be worth a war.”

To be fair, Straw has long opposed military action against Iran. In 2006, he dismissed reports of a potential U.S. nuclear strike on Iran as “completely nuts,” and said that there was “no smoking gun” to justify any attack on Iran despite the allegations about its nuclear program.

“We can’t be certain about Iran’s intentions and that is therefore not a basis for which anybody would gain authority to go to military action,” he told the BBC.

Six years later, Straw maintains this position. “War is not an option,” he concludes.

Let’s hope that - this time around - he’s right.


Originally posted at Muftah.


1 comment:

Abe Bird said...

Let America or Israel first attack the Iranian nuke sites and only later see if was the good choice. As you know, not only Israel pushes the US to attack Iranian's nuke but the Sunni Arab state as well.