Who sacked Straw? continued…
The row over whether the American government had the British foreign secretary sacked is back in the news. What reignited the debate was an article in The Spectator by Irwin Stelzer that reported that the “Bush team worried about the problems a British foreign minister faced when he depended for office on an electorate with ...
The row over whether the American government had the British foreign secretary sacked is back in the news. What reignited the debate was an article in The Spectator by Irwin Stelzer that reported that the "Bush team worried about the problems a British foreign minister faced when he depended for office on an electorate with a heavy Muslim component — something Secretary of State Rice noticed on her visit to Jack Straw's constituency. Straw is now custodian at the House of Commons."
Yesterday, Jack Straw’s former press spokesman took to the pages of the Guardian to discuss this claim. The article is worth reading for one of the most unintentionally hilarious statements I’ve seen in a while, “I’ve never quite understood the neoconservative worldview, except that its evidential base is their own prejudice”. But what’s really interesting about it is that while accepting the general premise, he argues that Condi would never have stuck the knife into her travel partner.
She knew all about [Blackburn’s Muslim population] in advance. I organised that visit, and did two joint planning exercises in Blackburn with her team, who showed her my notes on what to expect. They agreed that she would visit a mosque and wear a headscarf. The idea that she simply happened upon Blackburn’s Muslim population is cretinous.
I can’t speak for Rice, but my impression is that she relished the prospect of seeing what it is was like for the British foreign secretary to represent thousands of Muslims. She seemed to me open, interested and large-minded in a way the fruitcake cheerleaders of neoconservatism couldn’t imagine.”
Now, what’s fascinating about this is how even those who can’t stand American foreign policy and are driven to irrationality by the mere mention of the word neo-con can still love Condi. It is one of her prime political qualities that whatever role she has—and Rice is now undoubtedly the most powerful member of Bush’s foreign policy team—she maintains a medieval monarch’s ability to avoid blame. The article also demonstrates a certain blindness to what the secretary of state saw on the visit. It is true that she did know about Blackburn’s Muslim popluation beforehand and was planning to visit a mosque. But what the author chooses not to mention is that this visit was cancelled because Rice’s safety could not be guaranteed. That might just have changed her perception of the issue.
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