Sunday, August 06, 2006

Even more of a Bush bootlicker than Joe Lieberman: Tony Blair.

Dramatic new evidence that Cabinet rebel Jack Straw was sacked as Foreign Secretary as a result of pressure from George W. Bush has been revealed.

Senior sources close to the US Government told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Straw's outspoken opposition to America's policies on the Middle East was discussed by White House aides weeks before his shock dismissal by Tony Blair in May.

... it gives further credence to claims that he was fired because of his refusal to back America's all-out support for Israel....

A US source told The Mail on Sunday: "Mr Straw's views did not find favour in the White House and its concerns were passed on to the British Government."...

Diplomats say the claims about Mr Straw's removal from the Foreign Office have further relevance in the light of reports that the British and American governments knew in advance about Israel's plan to attack Hezbollah.

Some Foreign Office insiders say it could be part of an American plan to pave the way for an attack on Iran next year....

More from William Rees-Mogg in The Times of London:

...I made inquiries in Washington and was told that Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, had taken exception to Mr Straw's statement that it would be "nuts" to bomb Iran. The United States, it was said, had put pressure on Tony Blair to change his Foreign Secretary. Mr Straw had been fired at the request of the Bush Administration, particularly at the Pentagon.

Shortly before he was dismissed, Mr Straw went on his charming tour with Condoleezza Rice, in which they visited his Blackburn constituency. This had been given two explanations. One was that the US Secretary of State was hoping to protect Mr Straw, as a fellow foreign minister, against the undiplomatic attack from the Pentagon. She wanted to keep Mr Rumsfeld's tanks off her turf. She had found Mr Straw competent and effective. If that were so, Dr Rice lost that battle in the Washington turf war.

The alternative explanation was more recently given by Irwin Stelzer in
The Spectator; he has remarkably good Washington contacts and is probably right. His account is that Mr Straw was indeed dismissed because of American anxieties, but that Dr Rice herself had become worried, on her visit to Blackburn, by Mr Straw's dependence on Muslim votes. About 20 per cent of the voters in Blackburn are Islamic; Mr Straw was dismissed only four weeks after Dr Rice's visit to his constituency. It may be that both explanations are correct....

Just make the U.K. the 51st state and get it over with, Tony. Or better yet: a colony. If the U.K. were a state, its members of Congress might get uppity and challenge Bush, and you can't have that, can you?

(Oh -- and I guess it's time for this again.)

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