They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Brown Cabinet Gets Some Iraq Critics

New Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed some critics of the Iraq war to his youthful circle of senior Cabinet ministers Thursday, underlining his ambition to heal rifts over the conflict and win back the support of disenchanted.

Brown has pledged to examine Britain's role in Iraq - a subtle shift in language from his predecessor and perhaps his first diplomatic challenge in his relationship with the Bush administration, which considered Tony Blair its closest ally.

David Miliband, who at times criticized Blair's Middle East policy, was named foreign secretary - an eye-catching appointment by the new prime minister.

"The opportunities and challenges of the modern world requires, in my view, a diplomacy that is patient as well as purposeful - which listens as well as leads," said Miliband, a rising star in the Labour Party who at age 41 is the youngest British foreign secretary in three decades.

Both he and Jack Straw, who was appointed justice secretary and lord chancellor, criticized Blair for not insisting on an immediate cease-fire when Israel went to war last summer with the Islamic militants of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Miliband, the son of leftist Jewish academics who is married to an American violinist, voted to support British participation in the Iraq war, but he has voiced concerns about the conflict.

Brown also gave posts to John Denham, a former minister who quit the government in 2003 to protest the Iraq invasion, and Mark Malloch-Brown, a former deputy U.N. secretary-general who clashed with American neo-conservatives.

Malloch-Brown, now a lord, had fierce spats at the U.N. with then U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who accused the Briton of discrediting the world body with his criticisms of the White House.

As deputy to U.N. chief Kofi Annan, Malloch-Brown derided President Bush for what he called "megaphone diplomacy" on Darfur by trying to persuade Sudan's government to accept a U.N. peacekeeping in Darfur, but refusing to defend the organization to Americans.

Malloch-Brown's appointment to a junior role as minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations could be an attempt by Brown to distance Britain from the Bush administration, said analyst Alex Bingham at the Foreign Policy Center think tank.

Denham, the war critic, also got a relatively minor post, secretary for innovation, universities and skills.

Brown wants to win back the trust of voters who bitterly opposed the Iraq war, and invited families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as he made his first leadership speech Wednesday. He also plans to reverse restrictions on Iraq war protests around Parliament.

Brown said in a statement that one of three British soldiers killed Thursday in a roadside bombing in Iraq was from the Scottish constituency he represents.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all the fallen soldiers, who died bravely serving their country," he said. Link

db: Brown was a senior member of the Neo-Labour cabinet that took us into a disastrous and illegal Iraq war, hanging off the coat tails of the torture president and his neoconservative criminal friends. However some of the choices above are indeed impressive in terms of signaling 'a change of direction' that might be more than rhetoric. Ten years ago we felt kind of positive about Blair too, dimwits that we were. Brown needs to work very hard.