now | 29.03.2003 22:16
21.25PM GMT, 29 Mar 2003
Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has called on Tony Blair to bring Britain's troops home from Iraq.
Mr Cook - whose resignation as Leader of the Commons was the most high-profile political protest against UK involvement in the war - denounced the campaign in Iraq as "bloody and unjust".
And he warned that Britain and America risked stoking up a "long-term legacy of hatred" for the West across the Arab and Muslim world.
In an outspoken article for a Sunday newspaper, Mr Cook said that US President George Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not appear to know what to do now that their hopes that Iraq would swiftly capitulate had proved unfounded.
They appeared to be contemplating laying siege to Baghdad, which would result in massive civilian suffering and many unnecessary deaths, he said.
Mr Cook wrote: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unjust war.
"I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."
He attacked Mr Bush for "sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David" while Allied forces risked death in an "unnecessary and badly planned" war.
"It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the guys in a sandstorm peering around for snipers," he said.
"Nobody should start a war on the assumption that the enemy's army will co-operate. But that is exactly what President Bush has done.
"And now his Marines have reached the outskirts of Baghdad, he does not seem to know what to do next."
He warned of the dangers of besieging the Iraqi capital: "Donald Rumsfeld has come up with a new tactic. Instead of going into Baghdad, we should sit down outside it until Saddam surrenders.
"There is no more brutal form of warfare than a siege. People go hungry. The water and power to provide the sinews of a city snap. Children die.
"There will be a long-term legacy of hatred for the West if the Iraqi people continue to suffer from the effects of the war we started."
Mr Cook raised concerns that the Iraq campaign could drag on for months.
"Shortly before I resigned, a Cabinet colleague told me not to worry about the political fallout - the war would be finished long before polling day for the May local elections," he said.
"I just hope those who expected a quick victory are proved right."
He commended the decision to bring back the bodies of slain troops to be buried in Britain.
But he added: "I can't help asking myself if there was not a better way to show consideration for their families.
"A better way could have been not to start a war that was never necessary and is turning out to be badly planned."