Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, August 08, 2005

Robin Cook

Most politicians are granted rose-tinted prose and verbose accolades upon their passing, and many of these are undeserved. For some, however, these cliched eulogies are a disserving antecedent to a true obituary of praise and endearment. One such recently passed politician was Robin Cook, the former UK foreign secretary, who will be remembered as one of the most integrous of world politicians.

Cook's principled stand over the Iraq war, his emphasis on humanitarian intervention, his efforts in the creation of the international criminal court and his successful fight to ban the British use of anti-personnel mines will provide the basis for his empathetic and principled legacy. He was also an incredibly eloquent speaker, as his speech upon leaving Parliament in protest against the Iraq war is testament to:

"This is the first time for 20 years that I have addressed the House from the back benches. I must confess that I had forgotten how much better the view is from here . . . The longer that I have served in this place, the greater the respect I have for the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people.

"On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain . . . from the start of the present crisis, I have insisted, as Leader of the House, on the right of this place to vote on whether Britain should go to war . . . I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the Government."

Rest in Peace.