Tags: Ashton | EU | foreign | security

EU Foreign Envoy Once Tracked as Security Threat

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 10:16 PM EST

Catherine Ashton – or Baroness Ashton of Upholland – last month became High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the high-falutin’ new title for the European Union’s foreign minister.

The Labor Party House of Lords member and former leader of the upper house has been working closely and genially with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and echoing the former first lady’s tough talk towards Iran as the Islamist regime moves ever closer towards being able to build nuclear weapons.

But during the Margaret Thatcher/Ronald Reagan years, the British press report that her ladyship was treasurer for an infamous unilateral nuclear disarmament organization suspected of being funded by the Soviet Union; that she was attending Communist Party meetings; and was even being tracked as a possible threat to national security by the British government’s security services.

The Obama Administration is now reacting to the continued refusal of Tehran to respond to diplomatic overtures by sending Patriot defensive missiles to four Mideast countries, and helping Saudi Arabia build a 30,000-strong force to protect its oil installations.

In sync with that, Ashton on Sunday said, “I’m disappointed at the failure of Iran to accept the dialogue and we now need to look again at what needs to happen there.”

She added, “the next step for us is to take our discussions into the Security Council. When I was meeting with Hillary Clinton last week we talked about Iran and we were very clear this is a problem we will have to deal with.”

Ashton makes herself out to be tougher and less willing to trust Iran than her predecessor, the Spanish former NATO secretary general Javier Solana.

Six years of EU-Iran dialogue under Solana “has not brought us to the outcome that we have wished, so we do have to consider what else needs to be done, and we stand ready to do that,” Ashton said during a joint appearance with Clinton last month.

The EU High Representative last week also condemned Iran for sentencing two anti-government protesters to death.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, the now 53-year-old Ashton was in her twenties, and she was working hard advocating stripping Europe and America of their nuclear deterrent and leaving themselves defenseless against Moscow’s huge nuclear arsenal.

She rose to the high ranks of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a group that held demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people against nuclear weapons, especially U.S. intermediate-range missiles based in England.

In response to critics who say the radical pacifism of her past renders her unqualified to serve as EU foreign minister, Ashton has responded that “I have never hidden what I did. I am not ashamed of who I am and what I’ve done. You can argue against how I did it; you cannot argue against what I was seeking to achieve.”

Never elected to any public office, Ashton told the European Parliament she is now trying “to take the values I have held all my life and use them” as Europe’s representative.

But the UK’s Daily Mail in November chronicled her radicalized past and found that the woman Europe has now charged with preventing a nuclear-armed Iran was once “a suspected Communist sympathizer” working to disarm Europe.

Ashton reportedly now enjoys an annual government salary of $380,000 courtesy of Euro taxpayers, plus over $6 million in “allowances and perks,” the Mail wrote.

But during her CND days “The security services are said to have put Miss Ashton under surveillance and kept a file on her,” according to the British daily. “Certainly she was regularly mixing with those the spooks of the day would have considered undesirables.”

The Mail discovered documents that “suggest that from 1977 to 1979, when she was a paid CND ‘organizer’, she represented the campaign at Communist Party meetings. She attended one, for instance, in Oldham, Lancashire, on September 17, 1977.”

The paper noted that CND’s chairman “from 1971 to 1977, was a Communist Party member,” John Cox.

“Miss Ashton and her comrades wanted Britain to leave NATO,” the Daily Mail pointed out.

“In December 1983, she chaired a fringe meeting organized by the publication Marxism Today and three years earlier was part of a delegation that went to the Netherlands to meet a communist-controlled group called Stop The Neutron Bomb, which campaigned against American nuclear weapons. Other records detail the contact that Miss Ashton and fellow CND members had with the French Communist Party.”

Most serious of the allegations against the new EU foreign minister, however, are suggestions that while she was CND treasurer, “the organization was funded by the Communist Party.”

In Ashton’s treasurer’s report to the CND’s 1982 annual conference, she called for an audit that would silence such charges, “though she added that even that would not provide conclusive proof of where CND’s cash came from,” according to the Mail.

But “the conference voted to keep the identities of its donors secret.”

Perhaps even more important in the Iran context was Ashton’s huge role in an organization that failed to recognize the evil of Britain and the United States’ enemies. She even took part in CND’s demands that then-Prime Minister Thatcher turn back the naval task force she ordered to recover the Falkland Islands from an invasion by Argentina’s right-wing military junta – because of the suspicion that nuclear weapons were part of the British ships’ arsenal.

Whatever the Iranians make of Lady Ashton as she joins Hillary Clinton in warning them not to continue pursuing nuclear weapons, they know they’re not dealing with the Iron Lady who a quarter century ago helped bring down the Soviet Union; rather, they are dealing with a woman who fought Margaret Thatcher every step of the way.

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 10:16 PM
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