display | more...
Robin Cook was born May 4, 1940 in Brooklyn, NY. His undergraduate work at Wesleyan in chemistry earned him honors (summa cum laude). He then attended medical school at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, while spending his summers at Jacques Cousteau Institute in Monaco.

After graduating, he entered the Navy, spending one tour on the submarine USS Kamehameha, followed by a tour at the Deep Submarine Systems Project (Sea Lab). Following his discharge, he took an opthalmology residency at Harvard.

After completing his residency, he attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, simultaneously with opening his private practice, (opthalmology), in Marblehead, MA, and teaching at the Harvard Medical School, while seeing patients at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

His success as an author has allowed him a leave of absence, and he now lives in Florida, celebrating the birth of his son, Cameron Cook


Acceptable Risk
Chromasome 8
Fatal Cure
Harmful Intent
Mortal Fear
Vital Signs
This writeup assimilates work by chaosmind
British politician and the architect of the ethical foreign policy which he intended the Labour government of 1997 to exemplify. Promoted sideways after his party won its second term in 2001, he returned to prominence as the self-appointed spokesmen of Labour backbenchers, and made himself the symbol of their discontent with his resignation from the Cabinet in March 2003 as war on Iraq approached.

Cook was born in 1946 in the Lanarkshire town of Bellshill; his accent has remained pronounced to this day, leading to speculation whenever his future is in doubt that he could always be shifted further north into a sinecure in the Scottish Parliament even though, in the late 1970s, he was an outspoken opponent of proposals for Scottish devolution.

Educated at Edinburgh University, he entered Westminster in 1974 and aligned himself with Tony Blair's faction after the untimely death in 1994 of Labour's leader John Smith, the man widely expected to lead his party back into government after fifteen years of Conservative rule.

Treaty of Granita

In the aftermath of Smith's death, Blair is popularly supposed to have made a pact at a trendy Islington restaurant, Granita, with his former mentor Gordon Brown: Blair would head up the next election challenge, take Labour into a 'historic' second term and step aside, at some point in the second term, in favour of his dour Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Ever since the victory of 1997, the existence and the details of any such Treaty of Granita have been endlessly picked apart by British political correspondents; for Cook, a long-standing rival of Gordon Brown ever since the devolution debate, the agreement persuaded him not to challenge Blair for the vacant Labour leadership, despite encouragement from many of what remained Labour's left wing after the hard-fought modernisation of the party under Smith and, previously, Neil Kinnock.

As a Blairite, Cook disappointed his leftist backers by supporting his leader's assault on Clause 4, the commitment to workers' ownership of the means of production which had become emblematic of Labour's loyalty, or otherwise, to socialism.

Cook became the shadow spokesman on foreign affairs, and made his name as a parliamentarian in 1996 when he dissected the Conservative government's handling of the arms to Iraq affair revealed by the Scott Inquiry, after being allowed only three hours to digest Scott's report. Although he was named Debater of the Year by The Spectator magazine, no friend of the Labour party, he would apparently have preferred some responsibility for Treasury affairs, but found the portfolio Brown's personal fiefdom.

Ethical Foreign Policy

However, his experience as shadow foreign minister made him the obvious candidate for the Foreign Office itself in 1997: his tenure there was, perhaps inevitably, judged on the amount of faith he kept with his euphoric declaration that Labour, in sharp contrast to the Conservatives, would follow an ethical foreign policy. His decision to allow the sale of sixteen Hawk fighter jets to the government of Indonesia, not particularly known for similar ethical commitments, was seized upon by his opponents in the media as an early example of Blairite hypocrisy.

Cook also managed to offend the Indian prime minister, Inder Kumar Gujral, when he appeared to make an unwelcome offer of British mediation between India and Pakistan in the Kashmir crisis, prompting Gujmal to complain that Britain was a 'third-rate power poking its nose in' and, as the former colonial ruler, ought now to leave Kashmir well alone.

His determination to reinstall the Sierra Leonean president Tejan Kabbah in 2000, embroiling the United Kingdom in the double dealings of the mercenary corporation Sandline International, also won him criticism, but the gaffes might not have been enough to bring about his surprise dismissal from the Foreign Office in the 2001 reshuffle if not for his colourful personal life.

Notwithstanding his appearance of a ginger garden gnome, Cook has often been a noted womaniser whose long-term affair with his former secretary, Gaynor Regan, finally sent his ex-wife Margaret into wronged woman mode with her highly revealing 1999 autobiography, A Slight and Delicate Creature. The slight and delicate creature followed up her bestseller in 2002 with an examination of male leadership from Lincoln to Stalin, Lords of Creation: The Demented World of Men in Power.

Although Cook's new role as Leader of the House kept him in the Cabinet, it was nonetheless a demotion in all but name, asking him to concern himself with arcane parliamentary procedure instead of the cut and thrust of international diplomacy.

Leader of the House

Even so, he attempted to make the most of his new portfolio, and over the summer of 2002 introduced a package of reforms to the working hours of the House of Commons intended to do away with Westminster's traditional late-night sittings and, in the management buzzword of the time, make Parliament more family friendly. A number of MPs, however, resented the fact that the new timetable would interfere with their lucrative second jobs and, more altruistically, give the representatives of far-flung constituencies less time in their own locality.

Cook was also turned to by Labour backbenchers anxious that Blair's particular plans to reform the House of Lords, which the Prime Minister would have preferred to be almost an entirely appointed chamber, would lead to an upper house filled with the so-called Tony's cronies. Cook had publicly committed himself to a mostly elected second chamber, whereas the Blair proposal would have restricted the elected peers to only 20% of the chamber's membership.

The ongoing debate on Lords reform, though, became overshadowed by the prospect of war on Iraq without a second United Nations resolution, a conflict over which many of Labour's rank and file were profoundly anxious. After a million-strong demonstration in London on February 15, 2003, in fact, they and Cook might have believed they had more claim to the popular touch than the hawkish, almost messianic Blair, reprising the ecstatic interventionism which had seen him through the Kosovo crisis in 1999 but being denounced as 'Bush's poodle' by the left.

After the Azores summit on March 16, 2003, attended by Bush, Blair and the loyal Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, appeared to rule out a diplomatic solution to the crisis, Cook confirmed several weeks of press speculation by resigning from the Cabinet the next day, becoming the first Labour minister to do so and beating the Cabinet's professional contrarian, the international development secretary Clare Short, to the tape.

His letter of resignation emphasised his anger that Blair's enthusiasm for the war, greatly at odds with the scepticism of the French president Jacques Chirac, might risk British isolation within the European Union. His resignation speech itself, delivered to a packed House of Commons late into the evening of March 17 was more coruscating yet: delivered with all the panache of his Scott Inquiry debate, it contained thinly veiled attacks in passing on the security policy of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the veracity of George W. Bush's election in the first place.

The thought had been publicly aired in the British media that week that Blair might be forced to resign should the Iraqi conflict not turn out to be the lightning-fast display of shock and awe that the Pentagon had envisaged. While Cook might not appear his natural successor, his resignation seemed to be a calculation that he might become the focus of the backbenchers' resentment of Blair and have some say in the election of Blair's replacement.

Thanks to TallRoo for the resignation letter: read it at http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,9061,916145,00.html

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.