Involvement in International Politics

involvementJack Straw first gained international attention when getting involved in Chilean politics in the late 1990’s. The ex-President and Senator Augusto Pinochet, a well-known dictator, was detained by the English authorities despite having diplomatic immunity. Pinochet’s detention was condemned by the Chilean government for being diplomatically disrespectful. In contrast, many Chileans and left-wing supporters approved of Pinochet’s detention in England hoping for justice in a later trial in Spain; however, Jack Straw eventually decided to send Pinochet back to Chile after receiving medical reports indicating his health couldn’t stand a trial.

Later on, in 2001, Straw was appointed Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, position that he held until 2007. His first year in this office coincided with the USA terrorist attack on 11 September 2001; Straw decided to remain inactive during this particular conflict. He subsequently declared that the establishment of the RIP 2000 as a measure against terrorism was his contribution. Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, was the one who dealt directly with this issue on behalf of the United Kingdom.

Another important episode occurred in 2004 when an unsuccessful coup d’état in Equatorial Guinea took place. President Teodoro Obiang affirmed that the coup was part of a plot financed by the USA, the UK and Spain. As a matter of fact, evidence was found that there were British oil companies financing this coup as part of an elaborated plan, which consisted of obtaining lower oil prices from the new government after overthrowing Obiang. Jack Straw and other British officials declared having revised related reports and finding no proof of these allegations; nevertheless, the evidence was eventually found by the press. They proceeded to publicly apologies and alleged ignorance of all of the above.

Finally, joining the United States government on the war against Iraq (2003) presented a great challenge. Together with Tony Blair, Straw has been criticized for his approval on sending British troops to bomb Iraqi territory; in his defense, Blair stated the decision had been taken as Saddam Hussein was a menace to world peace.