Wednesday, April 28, 2004
All those ex-ambassadors who signed the protest letter to Blair are listed in the version on Juan Cole's site. Most UK papers just list the headline signatories 'and 50 others'. Take a look at the names and trace the careers on Google... these are not bit-part players.
I note that there is a smear campaign going the rounds labelling these ex-diplomats as 'The Camel Corps' or even (shudder) 'Arabists'. Implying that special knowledge of the conditions in this region makes these people unsound and of suspect judgement. Robin Cooke in the Independent (full article barred by 'paid-for status required', to Independent's shame) says:
"Even Roget's Thesaurus would be hard pressed to come up with words that do justice to yesterday's defiance by professional diplomats. Unprecedented would be accurate but does not capture the dramatic character of their mutiny. Remember these are people who've spent their entire careers working under a code of discretion which valued secrecy, viewed publicity with distaste and made understatement a habit. It is eloquent testimony to their frustration with current policy that they felt driven to go public. By the standards of diplomatic communiqués their statement is off the Richter scale."
Cook goes on to say that the famous fifty-plus would never have written this letter if they hadn't been absolutely sure that current serving diplomats were in substantial agreement with the contents. Juan Cole says that in particular the current UK Special Envoy to Iraq is in agreement with the contents...
The letter ends:
"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."