View Full Version : British Ambassador says: “Bush is al-Qaida’s best recruiting sergeant.”

Sep 21st, 2004, 02:00 AM
This story has a lot for good elements.

1) It's the British amabassador to Italy. Great Britain and Italy have committed more the more troops committed to the War on Iraq than any country except the USA.

2) 'Chatham House rules' - Everything that was said in this meeting was supposed to be off the record. This is interesting because it calls a couple of questions.

* Was the amabassador speaking for himself, or for the British government?

* If speaking for himself, should he have said that? Remember, it WAS supposed to be off the record, and the guy is a veteran.

* If speaking for the government, is this an indication of a coming change in Britain's Iraq policy? ie 'We're not happy, but we don't want to say so publicly.

3) Was the Italian newspaper editor who brought the comments to light doing the right thing? It is said he strongly favors the war on Iraq. And form his comments, it's pretty clear HE thinks the ambassador was speaking for himself, NOT for the British government.

4) I've heard radio reports that Britain is going to cut it's Iraq force down significantly, to onew third it's current size. However, I've seen nothing on the internet to confirm that. Call it an unsubstantiated rumor.

The article is in the next post.

Sep 21st, 2004, 02:00 AM

U.K. envoy: Bush the best recruiter for al-Qaida
Italian media report ambassador's remarks at private conference
Updated: 7:22 a.m. ET Sept. 20, 2004

ROME - Britain’s ambassador to Italy described President Bush as “the best recruiting sergeant” for al-Qaida, Italian media reported on Monday.

The comment, made at a closed-door conference at the weekend, was denounced by one leading Italian newspaper editor, who issued an open letter snubbing the veteran ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts.

Roberts was quoted as telling an annual Anglo-Italian gathering in Tuscany, “If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it’s al-Qaida.”

Corriere della Sera newspaper said Roberts also told the meeting of British and Italian policy-makers, “Bush is al-Qaida’s best recruiting sergeant.”

The British Embassy in Rome declined to comment about the remarks, saying the Tuscan conference had been covered by the so-called Chatham House Rules, which means that anything said by delegates should remain off the record.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair along with Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have been Bush’s strongest allies in Europe.

Conservative furor
Giuliano Ferrara, outspoken editor of the conservative Il Foglio broadsheet, wrote an open letter saying he would boycott a previously scheduled dinner with the ambassador on Monday.

“The dinner unfortunately would be a complete waste of time and a grotesque hypocrisy,” he said.

Ferrara added that he would prefer to have supper with the French ambassador to Italy “who loyally represents in Rome Mr. Jacques Chirac.”

Ferrara is a fervent supporter of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Roberts was British ambassador to Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s, helping negotiations between the international community and Yugoslav authorities. He then served as British ambassador to Ireland before his Italian posting.

MSNBC Live Vote
Do you agree with the reported remarks of the British diplomat about President Bush's impact on al-Qaida recruitment? 29404 responses

73% Yes
24% No
03% Not sure