Sunday, 27 September 2009

Talking PoliticsBack to Talking Politics

Be thankful Obama doesn't care about Britain
Fri Sep 25 10:37AM
President Obama's snubs to Gordon Brown reveal he doesn't care about the special relationship. Don't be upset, be thankful.
By Ian Dunt

There's something increasingly depressing about the way the British press and political establishment treat the country's relationship with Barack Obama.

It all began with the desperate inquiries about which world leaders he had called first after becoming President. That was swiftly followed by the fawning orgy that surrounded his visit to the UK for the G20. The reaction to Obama's gift of DVDs to Gordon Brown - unplayable due to their region setting - was worthy of conversations couples have while choosing wine for a dinner party, rather than international politics. The supposed snub during this latest trip to the States was entirely a result of the Downing Street media machine desperately trying to get Brown next to the President to boost his rating before the Labour conference.

Meanwhile, outside of the trivial personality politics inflamed by Obama's charisma juggernaut, there lies something more substantial and painful: the persistent infantilism and impotence of our media and political establishments towards America. Why should these childish examples constitute news at all? How can respectable broadsheets justify covering the intricacies of Brown's attempts to covet the US? Because of the 'special relationship'.

It's difficult to conceive of a more pernicious phrase - a more damaging phrase - to Britain than that of the 'special relationship'.

Elder statesmen tell us it is essential to the national interest to be allied with America in this pathetic, desperate way. It's nonsense. Britain's 'friendship' with America is a killer of young men. It sends servicemen and women to pointless, often illegal wars, where they spill their blood for geo-political and financial interests which are always primarily in America's interest, with ours panting along behind as an afterthought. Whatever we gain, it never outweighs the blood price. Nor does it justify the way we wreck havoc with international law and stability through our blind and self-harming loyalty.

Think back over the last quarter century and you will only find one incident in which the UK fought to defend British people, in which we genuinely fought for the rights of people to live free of dictatorship. It is the Falklands war, in which we defended an island full of people who wished to be part of Britain from government by military junta. It is no coincidence that it is the only war Britain has fought without American authorisation. Our other conflicts - Iraq and Afghanistan and the numerous others - have merely killed our people overseas, bought terror to London, and reduced us in the eyes of the world.

What has our utter devotion to the only world superpower brought us? Tourism? Trade? These things are equally available to other countries too patriotic and sensible to send their children to die in foreign lands for someone else's interests.

Does it bring us respect? Britain earns respect by itself, not through an alliance with a country which has historically pursued an aggressive and unpleasant foreign policy which values free markets far more than it ever has human rights or democracy. And being called a poodle by people all over the world is not my idea of respect. At least during Suez we humiliated ourselves by our own volition.

Obama is a great leader and an honourable man. He happens to be far more interested in working with Europe than he is in Great Britain. Diplomats, politicians and journalists are clearly heartbroken. Those who consider themselves British patriots should be elated. This is an opportunity for Great Britain to wean itself off America's violent and self-interested teat.

In a few months, David Cameron will be Prime Minister. He has already begun to move us away from Europe, and there's good reason for us to be pleased with that development, despite the disgraceful way in which he's chosen to get into bed with homophobes and psychotics to do it.

Will he be the man to take the advantage offered by a disinterested President to move us away from America? I doubt it. He does not strike me as a man with the guts to do what none of his predecessors have had the courage to complete. Chances are, Britain's elite will sit depressed for a few years until another President comes along who wants to use and exploit us like Obama's predecessors. And then they will merrily sacrifice more of our young to the American war industry again.

There are some of us who believe this country can stand on its own two feet, not in league with America, as the right wing desires, nor with Europe, as the left endlessly parrots. We should be pushing for Britain to make the most of this historic moment. But that requires courage - something few of our current or prospective political leaders seem to have much of.

If we don't do it now - with the body bags of Brits and Afghans churning out of the Middle East - when will we?

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