Christopher Meyer, Vocal British Envoy to the U.S., Dies at 78

Christopher Meyer, the debonair diplomat who served as Britain’s ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003 but later argued that his government allowed itself to succeed in supporting the US invasion of Iraq, died in July 27 at his holiday home in Megeve, in the French Alps. . He was 78 years old.

His death, apparently from a stroke, was confirmed by several officials, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As Britain’s special envoy from 1997 to 2003, during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Mr. Meyer quietly banned tenure. “special relationship” to describe the alliance between Britain and the United States, arguing that Washington clearly considers its relations with other countries – such as Israel – to be significantly more important.

Breaking up with many other European nations, Britain became the main partner of the Bush administration in its invasion of Afghanistan following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and supported Washington’s claim that Iraq was under attack. development and deployment of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Meyer, however, maintained it privately at the time and later in a book titled “DC Secret” (2005), without sufficient evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed such weapons, and lacking both additional support from the United Nations and a plan to run Iraq after Hussein’s ouster, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bush soon reached an agreement to invade Iraq. , which he later said was “Signed in blood” at the Texas presidential ranch in April 2002.

“The verdict of history,” Mr. Meyer wrote, “seems to have been flawed in both conception and implementation.”

However, he later admitted that Washington could have gone to war without British support.

Just a few less reproaches, I wrote Blair’s ministers were sacked. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott responded by dismissing the former special envoy as a “bad guy” – a reference to his penchant for flashy knitwear. (Unfazed, Mr Meyer adopted the Twitter handle @sirsocks, which he most recently weighed in a few weeks ago in the Conservative leadership race.)

Christopher John Rome Meyer was born on 22 February 1944 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Thirteen days before he was born, his father, Reginald, a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, died when his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Greece. He was raised by his mother, Eve, and his grandmother in Brighton.

He attended boarding school at Lancing College in West Sussex, studied in Paris and graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University. He then attended the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy.

In 1997, he married Catherine Laylle Volkmann, who ran Parents and children kidnapped together, an international campaign, to allow divorced and separated parents access to their children. She survived him, along with two sons, James and William, from his marriage to Françoise Hedges, which ended in divorce; three stepchildren; and a grandson.

Mr. Meyer joined the Foreign Office in 1966. He was appointed to Moscow, Madrid, Brussels and Washington and spent a year at Harvard as a visiting fellow. In 1994, he became the press spokesman for John Major, the Conservative prime minister.

He briefly served as ambassador to Germany in 1997 before being appointed special envoy to Washington later that year. The longest serving post-World War II British ambassador to Washington will include Mr Clinton’s impeachment, Bush’s victory in 2000, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Afghanistan. prelude to the war. within Iraq.

He was knighted in 1998.

In his memoirs, Mr. Meyer wrote that Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, ordered him to get as close to the White House as possible. He was as close as possible during the Bush administration: He played tennis with Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser; whitewater rafting with Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense; and befriended his next door neighbor, Vice President Dick Cheney.

After retiring in 2003, Mr. Meyer served for six years as chairman of his country’s Press Complaints Commission, an autonomous body he helped strengthen.

He then wrote books and articles and regularly posted on Twitter, where he wondered in 2020 why The New York Times was, as he put it, so unrelentingly English. “Is it Brexit, where the press favors royalism over the king for the Remain cause?” he asks. “Does he loathe Boris, who he considers ludicrously a mini-Trump?”

He also hosts television documentaries, including a BBC series, “The Network of Power” (2012), in which he seeks to identify the attributes that powerful global cities and their influential residents share.

“I thought, this is really interesting – what makes these cities stand out? Who makes them tick? ‘ he said Guardians in 2012. “And I started with a theory, which I think was more or less proven by the filming, which is: Maybe they have more in common with each other than with their own country. Having followed Mumbai, Moscow and Rome, I can say that the common feature is an alarming level of tyranny.”

The real issue, he adds, is that “it’s in your nature to surround yourself with people you think will promote your interests, people with whom you have some necessary compatibility and with whom you have Okay”.

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