Clare Short's Message for Dick Cheney
When it came to expressing her opinions as a member of Tony Blair's cabinet, Clare Short was never a shrinking violet. If she rubbed people the wrong way - and she did often - that was their problem. The woman was going to speak her mind, regardless. The same goes for her frank testimony before a British inquiry into the chronology of events leading to the 2003 Iraq war. (The TimesOnline live blogged the event here.)
(AP Photo )
Short, who was the U.K.'s International Development Secretary before resigning a couple of months after the March 2003 invasion, essentially accused former U.K. leader Tony Blair of lying and of having misled his cabinet. Asked why she didn't leave the government earlier, Short pointed a finger at Blair, saying she had been "conned" into believing that the United Nations would play a bigger role in the post-war construction of Iraq.
"You don't want to disbelieve your prime minister in the run-up to war and you want to believe the leader of your party," she said. You want to be loyal."
A few of Short's other bons mots:
"There was no evidence of any kind of an escalation of threats."
"We could have gone more slowly and carefully and not have had a totally destabilized and angry Iraq."
"The American people were misled to suggest that al-Qaeda had links to Saddam Hussein."
"Everybody knows that is untrue - that (Saddam) had absolutely no links, no sympathy, al-Qaeda were nowhere near Iraq until after the invasion and the disorder that came from that."
"Britain needs to think about this, the special relationship. What do we mean by it."
"We have made Iraq more dangerous as well as causing enormous suffering and diminishing our reputation."
Cooked evidence, shaded declarations by the political elite, poorly thought-out post-invasion plans - where have we heard all that before? Not that Short's testimony likely will have any impact on this side of the Atlantic. With her testimony, Short has only opened herself up to attacks from rightwing supporters of the war in this country, who still find ways to rationalize the invasion. I wonder, though, how many of them will weigh her statements without passion or prejudice before firing off their blunderbusses?
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