Thursday, 11 March 2010

One-way traffic

It feels like a one-way street at the moment:

Baroness Manningham-Buller: US concealed torture from MI5
In a speech to the Mile End Group at the House of Lords, Lady Manningham-Buller said: “The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing.”

Britain made string of protests to US over Falklands row

Asked why the US chose to remain neutral despite Britain’s longstanding claims, the spokesman twice avoided calling them the Falklands, first saying “whatever you want to call them” and then using the Argentine name.

George Bush to David Cameron: don't derail Northern Ireland peace process
The former US president George Bush has made a direct plea to David Cameron to support the Northern Ireland peace process, amid widespread concern in the US about the Tories' new electoral pact with the Ulster Unionists.

Which all follows this:

Depressed Tony Blair told Gordon Brown he would quit after Iraq war
• Book reveals extent of PM's despair in aftermath of war
Sally Morgan, Blair's director of government relations, told [author] Rawnsley: "Iraq was a quicksand swallowing him up. The atrocities. Those terrible photos [of Abu Ghraib..."
The book relates how Blair's special envoy in Iraq, the former UN ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, came to No 10 at the end of his service in Baghdad to brief the prime minister. Greenstock knew that his "very gloomy assessment" had made him highly unpopular in the building. Some at No 10 tried to keep him away, fearing the impact on Blair's collapsing morale. In Blair's den Greenstock warned him that the situation looked "unbelievably bad" and would get more desperate in the months to come. "What can we do?" pleaded Blair. "We have told them [the Americans] again and again what we think is necessary. If it doesn't happen, what can we do?" Greenstock was left with the image of the prime minister "tearing his hair" over Iraq and "throwing his hands in the air".

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder and refraining from any public criticism whatsoever doesn't seem to have done us much good: being implicated unknowingly (at least to a degree) in torture; being put in an impossible position diplomatically over the Falklands, Britain's most sensitive longstanding foreign policy issue; having our politics interfered in so that the main opposition party is embarrassed over its policy on Northern Ireland; and then Iraq, which is by far the gravest of these slights in that we appear to have been concerned about the lack of post-war planning and then the lack of seriousness about reconstruction but been ignored.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock's unpublished memoirs would probably be one of the most important primary sources on the war's aftermath, which is where the real scandal of the whole episode is to be found. No wonder, their publication has been forbidden with no sign yet of their ever seeing the light of day.

The next time a British political leader is asked to sacrifice political capital - or more - to support US interests Foggy Bottom may be disappointed. But a refusal certainly shouldn't come as a surprise.

9 comments:

Brit said...

I have an increasingly bad feeling about Obama. I don't think he likes us much.

Gaw said...

After the unqualified support Blair and Brown gave the last lot, I'm not surprised.

Brit said...

They supported the US. Bush happened to be President.

Gaw said...

I think the jokes about toothpaste, etcetera suggested a more personal relationship - an unnecessarily subservient one, as the 'Yo, Blair' incident further suggested. There's no doubt Blair helped Bush domestically, arguably beyond the call of duty. It couldn't have been a particularly happy experience for the Dems.

Recusant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Recusant said...

I'm with Brit. He was the US president at the time and he was arguably a lot more pally with Clinton.

Obama doesn't even want to go through the motions of being concerned for our point of view or our shared history.

We are in danger of being isolated, as one thousand years of history and habit works against being deeply involved with continental Europe and a boosted Anglosphere only works if the US is on board.

Brit said...

Mind you, the excellent thing about the US system is that the Pres can only last for 8 years tops, Obama maybe 4.

Vern said...

Brit, if you lived here your bad feeling would be greatly multiplied. Obama is way out of his depth on most matters and his foreign policy is a total shambles. Dems are retiring in droves, or being removed from committees. Chaos, baby, chaos and the myth that his alleged brains matter for much will soon evaporate. Sharon Stone also has a very high IQ I am told, but she still thinks Dylan Thomas was Irish.

I also think the 'Yo, Blair' thing was greatly overplayed- it was Bush being pally rather than domineering. They both had a lot in common, and it was Blair we will recall who stood so little on formal etiquette that at the Millennium celebrations he pinched the Queen on the arse and winked. Or something like that.

Gaw said...

All: Since Labour has recovered in the polls and there's a chance G_____ B____ could be prime minister for another five years, I've decided I haven't got a clue about politics. I mean, how is it possible? The upshot is I haven't got the spirit to argue my points.