Thursday, March 23, 2006

The unhappy Brits

The Guardian has an article that seems to show some cracks developing in the relationship between America and England. The very first paragraph in the article contains this shocker:
A senior British military commander in the invasion of Iraq said the other day that Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, should be tried for war crimes. He was speaking in private and, I assume, did not mean to be taken literally. But there was no mistaking the anger in his voice.
This sentiment hardly speaks well of the attitude of our staunchest ally in the war on terror and the Iraqi debacle. Further reading of the article seems to point to several reasons that the British are not satisfied with the treatment they receive from their American allies based upon the following concerns.

1: The decision to disband the Iraqi security forces immediately following the invasion. The formal responsibility for this decision was laid at the doorstep of Paul Bremer, but the British seem to know that the actual decision was taken by Donald Rumsfeld. This decision is now widely viewed as a mistake even by the most ardent koolaid drinkers, but at the time the decision was carried out it contradicted British orders to their commanders in the field. It now is clear that the English were absolutely correct at the time and the results of this fumble have led to serious repercussions on the success of the Iraqi occupation.

2: The British knew well before the invasion that there was no effective planning for the occupation of Iraq. It seems clear that what planning the British did contemplate for sectors under their control was effectively cancelled by the American administration, as noted by the 1st issue above.

3: In Afghanistan the Defense Department seems to have reached an agreement with local warlords to look the other way in regards to the opium harvest. 90% of heroin in England flows from Afghanistan. The English have been very keen to eradicate the opium crop but are encountering resistance from the Americans on the grounds that we do not wish to alienate the warlords.

4: Despite continued British support in the war on terror, the American side of the alliance has shown time and again an intransigence regarding bi-lateral issues. To quote the article:
What is Washington doing in return for all Blair's help? Bush has blocked a billion-dollar deal with Rolls-Royce to build engines for the proposed joint strike fighter - which Britain wants for its two new aircraft carriers - despite repeated lobbying from Blair. The US still refuses to share advanced military technology with us. It is refusing to let British agencies question terrorist suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged September 11 mastermind; it won't even say where they are being held.

Is it in Britain's national interest to be so closely allied to a US that takes Britain for granted, to an administration that sets up Guantanamo Bay - where the treatment of prisoners led a high-court judge to remark that "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations"?
I also would like to throw in the issue of the Kyoto treaty on global warming, which has been repeatedly championed by Tony Blair only to be ignored by President Bush.

With Prime Minister Blair beset by the the Loans for Lordship scandal (that would be Lordgate for American readers) the case may be that he does not want further controversy in already stormy seas and will sweep these differences under the rug. Then again, with the administration of George Bush being intensely unpopular with the English citizenry, Blair may wish to change the subject in a politically popular way and start making noise about these issues on the home front. If that is the case, one can only wonder how the notoriously thin skinned George Bush will take criticism from his staunch ally?

One final note from my perspective on the similarity of American and British politics. I find it ironic that both nations seem to be led by people who do not really represent their respective political parties very well. If I were a liberal in England I would be highly perturbed by Tony Blair. (Let me tell you that while Bill Clinton was President I thought Blair was fantastic. The Blair/Clinton team on international affairs really was quite impressive. I fear however that Blair has forever ruined the laurels he gained in those halcyon days by his disastrous lap dog approach to the Bush administration.) Yet it appears that British liberals in large part have no real alternative to go to on election day.

On American politics the choice given to conservative voters appears even grimmer. Vote Republican and get these whackos that spend like flower girls on speed. Vote Democrat and you vote for godless commies who want to surrender N.Y. to Osama. (According to Fox news and the current administration anyway.) At least the British have the ability to vote for minor party candidates that have a hope at forming a block in a governing coalition. The average American conservative is really stuck in a hard spot... (unless they go beyond the typical propaganda from Fox, the administration, and the local right wing koolaid dispensing preacher man.)

This Britt is in general happy. Happy with Bush? No. The whole spying thing, spending us into obliveon, and poor management in Iraq really irritate. Then there's that promise of tax reform he let go by. Nice promise when you want Libertarians to vote for you instead of Kerry but, now....

As to the Brits across the pond the majority of the populace was opposed to the war from the start. They really do have liberally slanted media. Far worse than here. Fox recently made headway there but, that's not the powerhouse it is here. Blair somehow sideded with a close ally and only superpower in a war fought over terrorism and the free flow of oil. The UK sometimes bucks the system over there in Europe and maintains more independence. They could use our support and have a friendship with the superpower that Great Britain gave birth too. They are very European but, share cultural and economic ties with the US.

Disbanding the Iraqi army was a blunder. It was a big mistake yet still that. There was the logic about not arming your enemy if Saddam remained hidden and somehow the army didn't fully cooperate. This is not some unforgivable error on Bush's part.

Planning or lack thereof, that is a major "sin".

Opium??? That can't be true!!! We have a "war on drugs" to go along with the "war on terror". We even forego our constitional rights for these "wars" where the president has ultimate power and authority. Surely your mistaken here. *read that with sarcasm please* I really hope the Dems nail Bush with that one.

Point number 4? Intransigence? Oh, yeah. I forgot America is supposed to be arrogant because, we are the superpower run by a Republican and that's just not fair. "America first" & "Blame America First". Both perspectives are equally closed minded and dangerous. Europe and the UN can kiss my intransigent proud American white male behind. We already have King George, why do we need be subordinate to the UN or Brussels? The Kyoto Treaty is a freakin' joke! China gets away with everything in the Kyoto deal and really it's just a means for the UN to place income redistribution on the US. Rob from the greedy Americans and give it to the greedy Europeans. If the US was to go along with this act of self-mutilation, it would have been the Russians that would have reaped the rewards. After the US said no, the Russians were hesitant because then their cashcow would be gone. One way to lose a good chance at nabbing swing voters is to claim we should be lap dogs to Annan or Brussels. Europe can have their socialism. That's their business.

On the other side I understand the frustration on the Rolls Royce thing. The UK and Blair deserve something. We don't need to share all of our Tech secrets but, certainly some kind of compromise should have been offered.

Bush likely will not respond to criticism by Blair. If forced to, he'll likely say that he understands that Blair is under intense political pressure. That's **IF** much criticism comes about at all.

3rd parties? Still "pie in the sky" dreaming. Yet, I do long for greater influence by a party that respects the Constituiton. In my darkest fantasies I do dream of a world where one of the current parties "Whig" out and the Libertarians step up. Hey, a man can dream can't he?
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