View Full Version : Closest Ally Or Humble Servant?

11-13-2007, 09:42 AM
Closest ally or humble servant?
Gordon Brown wants to emphasise the strength of the 'special relationship', but there are areas of US foreign policy we must speak out against


Michael Meacher

Gordon Brown wanted to reassure George Bush at Mansion House last night that the "special relationship" still lies at the heart of UK foreign policy. After a teeny-weeny bit of independence in beginning to withdraw British troops from Iraq, we have to genuflect again. The real question we should be asking is: are we seeking a closer relationship because we believe that US policies are broadly right or simply because that is where the power is?

There is of course no special relationship, almost by definition, since the essential tenet of the neocon philosophy is unilateralism, Might is Right, and self-interest overrides everything whatever their "friends" may say. We are no more likely to carry influence if we play the deferential courtier than if we play the critical friend. As we found out painfully throughout the Blair years, playing to the American tune unremittingly on every occasion gained not a singly demonstrable concession.

So are American policies right? Of course there is a considerable US-European consensus across a broad spectrum of policy which nobody seriously doubts. But there are some very important areas of discord where we have a responsibility to make our voice heard.

Iraq is a prime example, though far from the only one. It is becoming clear that the US intends to keep a permanent military presence in Iraq as long as Saudi, Iraqi and Iranian oil lasts, amounting in total to more than half global oil reserves. For this purpose the US is strong-arming an oil law through the Iraqi government which is virtually expropriating all future Iraqi oil revenues which on some official US estimates could reach the stupendous level of £30 trillion - 12 times the UK GNP. The Americans are now building five colossal military bases across Iraq to enforce their will. We should be telling them this is a recipe for an endless insurgency which is not only flagrantly illegal, but an unwinnable quagmire which can only erode the west's position to the benefit of Iran, China and Russia.

Second, the US won the cold war in 1989, but then blew it by passing up a priceless opportunity to win over Russia as a long-term ally. Russia let the Berlin wall be torn down, pulled the red army back inside its border, removed the Communist party from absolute control, and embraced American-style capitalism. Putin went out of his way to aid American forces after 9/11 and did not use his security council veto to block the US invasion of Iraq. What has been his reward? The US, exploiting Russian weakness at every turn, moved Nato into eastern Europe and then into the former Soviet republics. The US bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 despite Russian protests, and is now placing a missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic as well as unilaterally abrogating the ABM treaty, which has produced stability for 30 years. Is it any surprise that Putin is now so suspicious and uncooperative towards the west? This is fundamentally the wrong policy, and we should be saying that loud and clear to the US before we alienate yet further one of the great powers that should be our ally.

Third, instead of continually fudging his options over Iran, Gordon Brown should be making clear that while we support economic and diplomatic pressures to deter an Iranian nuclear bomb, we do not and will not support a military attack on Iran. It would have catastrophic consequences - setting the whole Middle East alight, provoking intensified Iranian intervention in Iraq, seriously disrupting the world oil supply a quarter of which passes daily through the straits of Hormuz, unleashing murderous retaliation maybe as far as western capitals, all without being able ultimately to prevent an Iranian bomb, and indeed generating a national unity behind the mullahs when otherwise an unpopular regime might steadily unravel because of economic failure.

It is our duty to make clear to the Americans now our strong opposition to their perverse and counter-productive military threats towards Iran. Otherwise, the cold war will be succeeded by another long-term geo-political conflict, only conducted at much higher temperature.