In an interview with Total Politics magazine, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw claimed that his senior position in government may have been threatened by “neo cons” in the United States.
Tony Blair’s former foreign secretary, who has held a number of other positions in the British government, was asked whether or not President George W. Bush could “have leant on Blair” to get rid of him. He responded: “People say that. The neo cons, people like John Boulton [sic], were never terribly keen on me, but I’ve no idea what observations were made through the back door.”
The comment arose in the context of a discussion over possible military action against Iran. Straw had barely been convinced of the need for action in Iraq, but his stance on both the Iranian question, as well as the Israeli response in Lebanon in 2006, apparently won him no friends in the United States.
“Tony [Blair] and I were getting to a different place on handling Iran and handling Hamas, and Tony certainly felt disconcerted when I said that it was inconceivable that the UK would go to war with Iran and described a nuclear attack as nuts,” he said.
But while Straw may have been prescient in asserting such a notion, the idea that a British foreign secretary could take action off the table entirely was seen as deeply diplomatically problematic. Not long after the fact, Straw was demoted within the British Cabinet, though at the time Blair dismissed as “rubbish” the claim that the Americans pressured him to remove Straw.
Straw also lashed out at two Bush-era stalwarts, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney. He commented on his good relationships with Bush’s Secretary of State and his counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, and her predecessor, Colin Powell. He claimed that Powell had “a good plan” for post-invasion Iraq but complained that it was all “completely undermined by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney” and their “disastrous decisions.”
Straw was shifted off to the role of Leader of the House of Commons and tasked with constitutional reform, specifically that of the House of Lords. And although he himself floated plans for an elected Lords, Straw managed to achieve no changes and has hypocritically stated that if offered, he would take up a seat in Britain’s unelected upper chamber.
Earlier this year, Straw caused controversy as he claimed in a private meeting in the House of Commons that the greatest hurdle towards Middle-East peace is the “unlimited” funding for “Jewish organisations.”
Straw also reportedly claimed that pro-Israel lobby groups such as AIPAC work with this “unlimited” funding to “divert American policy in the region” and stated that “Germany’s obsession with defending Israel” was a major problem.
The incident was seen as a nod to “Jewish control” conspiracy theories, and Straw’s office dug deeper by citing a Walt and Mearsheimer book that Straw quotes at length in his own autobiography; The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy makes numerous specious claims about Jewish conspiracy theories and was at one point endorsed by Osama bin Laden.
Both of Straw’s parents were “conscientious objectors” during the Second World War and met when they were both in the Peace Pledge Union–an organization which favored appeasement of Hitler.
Straw was formerly the president of the National Union of Students in the United Kingdom, an organization known for its far-left political stances.