28 2 mins 15 yrs

bush_brown_mdcd107.jpgUK PM Gordon Brown holds his first meeting with US President George W Bush today and the UK media is full of it. I listened to the BBC coverage earlier this morning and in summary they are putting forward the view that Brown must not become a "poodle" to Bush "like Blair was", that Brown needs to assert the importance of an orderly withdrawal from Iraq, that Brown must call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay and that there is no "special relationship" between the two nations anyway.

First, when a UK Prime Minister develops a close relationship with a US President, he or she is instantly portrayed as a "poodle". But when a UK PM adopts a close relationship to the EU, why that’s progressiveness personified. Following on from this is the yearning need from the UK media for the UK not to have a special relationship with the US. I listened to a former "special adviser" to the Blair government on the radio state that there is absolutely NO special relationship with the US and that it is a conceit to think so. Then there’s the small matter of the need to run away from Iraq. Brown won’t say it in those words and will put on a show of support but isn’t it clear that the way he plans to retrieve lost popularity and win favourable media exposure is to bring our boys home and to hell with the war on terror? Best to fight  ’em in Piccadilly Circus, right? The UK media is endemically anti-American, and especially when the US has a Republican President. It wants to see Brown stick two fingers up to Bush but knows he won’t. And so the fear and loathing intensifies….

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28 thoughts on “YO BROWN!

  1. If I hear Bush tell him "Brownie you are doing a terrific job" I am going to run to a fallout shelter.

    Anyway, our two great nations have ties that bind and are not to be broken by lesser leaders from either side of the pond.

  2. "The UK media is endemically anti-American, and especially when the US has a Republican President."

    David,

    In the Republic, I’ve found that, although the centrist papers (IT, Examiner) are more likely to disagree with US foreign policy, it is the right-wing press (Sindo, Evil Gerald and the "Irish version" British tabloids) who usually have the idiotic "aren’t Americans so fat and/or stupid" articles beloved of US haters in Europe.

  3. Hugh: I disagree with your analysis on the UK-US relationship. There is a common thread running between the two nations that is principled and essential even when the leaders of the two nations may be lacking in either department.

  4. Mahons,

    If you give a description of what this common thread between the two nations is, I might be able to tell if I am wrong or not.

  5. David: Perhaps an apt description although Troll might note that we are the only child whose parents crie for it when something goes wrong (a role reversal).

  6. Hugh: surely opposition to my point of view tells you all you need to know about being right or wrong. Seriously, I’ll get back to you a little later.

  7. "Yes, I notice that too. Why is this?"

    I would suggest that, generally, anti-Americanism and European arrogance aren’t solely the preserve of dastardly liberals.

    In the Irish context, the right-wing press now seems to be dominated by lazy, loudmouth tabloid morons (think Brendan O’Connor, Ian O’Doherty et al). They seem to be replacing the old guard of paranoid nutters (Harris, Myers etc) who, although slightly insane, at least could write cogently.

  8. sorry to detract from the sincerity of this discussion, but did anyone else see kamikaze Bush on the golf buggy this morning? circling at a rate of knots more suited to a G-force test, while Brown was on the outside holding on like a rabbit in the headlights.

    Now that’s some welcome. [rolls eyes]

  9. Hugh: We share a common language and thus the same literature, poetry, drama. Both nations law is based on the common law, and there is the shared appreciation for what constitutes justice. Both nations have similar ideas about freedom and democracy (not identical, but similar). And both nations have allied themselves in support of these ideals. There exists a joint commitment which has been demonstrated in practice and policy. It is not a melting of one nation into another so that they are not distinguishable, rather an appreciation of a common overall purpose.

  10. The only thing Bush and Brown have in common is the first letter of their name; and assuming, of course, Bush understands Browns accent enough to know where Scot-Land is.

  11. Mahons:

    The bit about the common language is interesting, because I bet that without that you probably wouldn’t be making the remarks about the shared appreciation of what constitutes justice, or the similar ideas about freedom and democracy. (Do Germans, or Dutch, or Swedes or Japanese have radically different ideas about justice, freedom, and democracy?)

    As for their joint commitment: I think that this is a marriage of convenience where one spouse does what he is told (for the purposes of my analogy, it’s a gay marriage, since both countries strike me as masculine), and makes noises every now and again about how he does exactly what he’s told because he agrees with it entirely, and if he didn’t agree with it he’d say so, but he never does. Now you might say: isn’t that what all marriages are like? To which I can only say that the US -and this is probably the Mormon influence- is also married to someone else. And he’s willing to give her pretty much anything she wants. (Israel being a she, albeit an armed-to-the-teeth she.)

  12. Hugh: Actually the German and Swedish (Scandavian) legal systems have interesting differences from our own. As for ideas about freedom, I submit that the nations you listed, while having some common values with us in those regards, are often mostly concerned with those issues as effect themselves. And lets face it, who do they look to to secure those particular things?

    As for the alliance being a marriage, it seems like an odd analogy to me. It would be the only marriage in which the divorce came first.

    As for the "subtle" references to Israel, I’ve never understood the antipathy to Israel among some people of good will. I have certainly understood the antipathy to Israel of people without good will. As a nation it should be subject to criticism when due, but I find it striking how that criticism is so often applied.

  13. I’ve never understood the antipathy to Israel among some people of good will.

    There is a difference between antipathy towards a state and antipathy towards its citizens, which I am sure you appreciate. At any case, I don’t think I’ve criticised Israel in this instance (even though it deserves plenty of criticism).

  14. Hugh: Of course there is a difference, but I refer to the odd antipathy to the state, with standards applied that are not applied elsewhere.

  15. Hugh

    If you have to ask what the special relationship is all about, you probably won’t understand or agree with any answer that is given.

    Mahons is quite right, but the relationship goes far beyond that, in ways that are hard to put into words.

    Though each country has been dead wrong about various issues over the past two centuries, each has been substantially right about many fundamental things.

    The alliance that exists goes beyond history, beyond blood, beyond NATO or any other treaty, and far beyond the type of "national interest" that nations base many of their calculations on.

    We’ve got their backs, and they have ours. That’s that.

  16. Phantom:

    Can you give me an example of a moment in history where the US acted in the interests of the UK in a way that was against its own strategic interests?

  17. Hugh – I think the point of the relationship is that the strategic interests are in common, hence Lend Lease and the Marshall Plan. And the troops we have in Western Europe aren’t exactly guarding Idaho.

  18. Hello Mahons

    the point of the relationship is that the strategic interests are in common

    Well, yeah, that’s my point too. And it’s the strategic interests that produce all the stuff about ‘beyond history, beyond blood, beyond NATO’, not vice-versa.

    As for Lend Lease and the Marshall Plan, I don’t think that the US enacted either of these because its people loved the British, but because it was in its own strategic interest to do so. I mean, look at the arms deals currently enacted with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One automatically presumes that deep love and regard for the house of Saud and Hosni Mubarak never comes into it, so why assume that mutually beneficial interactions between the US and UK is because of fraternal love?

  19. Hugh: I don’t recall claiming fraternal love as a motivating factor. And I think you are ignoring clear and obvious commonly held beliefs among the people of the UK and US that are not there when dealing with Egypt and Saudi Arabia (which is a far more tactical and strategic relationship).

  20. Mahons: Apologies, I was paraphrasing the wrong guy.

    I don’t think you’ve demonstrated to me here that there’s some sort of special relationship between the two countries that goes beyond the type of relationship that the US has with other countries. However, if you look at the relationship the US has with Israel, that is demonstrably special. I am, of course, thinking here in terms of foreign policy.

    I don’t think that the relationship between the two (US and UK) arises from some sort of ineffable transhistorical bond between the two nations, but from pretty basic strategic concerns.

    Whilst I can accept that in general Americans may feel a greater bond with Britain than they do with Slovakia, and British may also feel a greater bond with America than they do with Slovakia, and can also accept that this may be partly based on their common language and law traditions, this does not, I submit, amount to anything when it comes to strategic interests, which is what Brown presumably went to Washington to discuss, or plead.

  21. Hugh: The common interests of promoting freedom (and of defending it) are in fact also the strategic interests. I think this comes from clear cultural bonds. I am not naive to suggest that such motivations are always in the fore, but that they are the overall result.

    As for Israel, I agree that the relationship is also a special one.

  22. Mahons, do you think that the interests of promoting freedom have any basis in fact nowadays? I mean, if we assume that the people of both countries care about freedom and democracy (and there is no reason to believe that they don’t), how well does this concern translate into foreign policy?

    How successfully is the US promoting (or defending) freedom in some of the countries whose governments it actively supports? I’m thinking here of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan? (I’d ask you about the UK, but let’s face it, the UK doesn’t appear to have any side projects of its own at the minute)

  23. Hugh: Foreign policy has its ups and downs as there is no magic wand that can be waved over a dangerous world. Often times one must deal with regimes in which freedom or democracy are not even second hand thoughts, to counter greater dangers. Not the most pleasing aspect I’ll grant you. And sometimes, these individual decisions are questionable or even wrong.

    One of the side projects you might be interested in is Britain’s ongoing commitment to protect Western Europe (see NATO). Without Britain’s credible participation (and the participation of many other members) the real freedom of many there would be at risk.

  24. –Can you give me an example of a moment in history where the US acted in the interests of the UK in a way that was against its own strategic interests?–

    The US could very easily have stayed out of the first World War. Indeed many Americans opposed involvement in a war that "did not concern us"

    Hitler crossed the Rubicon in the WW2 by declaring war on the US, but long before that, the US had tilted decisively toward Britain and other Allies with the Lend Lease program.

    Bernard correctly mentioned the Falklands.

    The US could have done deals with the Kaiser, the Fuhrer, and the Argentinian colonels. But they didn’t.

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