Remind me again what the British get out of the US-UK “special relationship”? Writing in the Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor sets out this disfunctional relationship in all its glory:
- A senior British military commander says that Donald Rumsfeld should be tried for war crimes.
- The Brits are still furious that the decision to disband the Iraqi army after the invasion contradicted orders given by British military chiefs to their commanders in the field.
- Warnings from British officials that the Bush administration had no post-invasion strategy
- The British begged the US to bomb the poppy fields of Afghanistan because most of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. The US refused.
- Bush has blocked a billion-dollar deal with Rolls-Royce to build engines for the proposed joint strike fighter, despite repeated lobbying from Blair.
- The US refuses to share advanced military technology with the UK.
- It refuses to let British agencies question terrorist suspects.
- The US has a longstanding demand that the US-UK relationship “may entail on occasion the applying of UK resources to the meeting of US requirements” (but not vice versa).
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 Guantánamo 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 civilised nations”?
I think that GitMo is indeed symbolic of the distance between the US and UK: in Britain, we just cannot believe how the US can justify it. Still, despite the ideological chasm on many things, the Brits will continue to play poodle: the US gives us a seat at the table, a seat we wouldn’t otherwise have. Of course, the dinner invite has one requirement: you get what you’re given. Be quiet and eat!