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JF

Unfortunately, Cameron is increasingly appearing to be yet another temporary caretaker of the Tories. His superficial rhetoric about cynicism in politics is pure Obama, his embrace of the environmental cause is straight out of the Left's playbook. His promises to pour yet more taxpayer funds down the "public services" toilet brands him a leftists as well. As far as his conservative policies, he's lifted welfare reform from the US, school vouchers from Sweden, and promised to tweak the tax code superficially enough not to substantially change the regime. He has also virtually abandoned the fight in Iraq.

The Conservatives have yet to emerge from the wilderness and differentiate themselves sufficiently from Labor. Until then, why would American conservatives look to the Tories for leadership?

atheling

Looks like in Brown we lost Britain as an ally.

In Sarkozy we have gained France.

Que sera...

Andrew Ian Dodge

Cameron & Co have doing their best to be unkind to the Republicans. Looks like they are picking sides again which worked so well when you had Tory MPs shilling for the loser Kerry last time round. CF publically, on their site, spoke out against President Bush. Not exactly the best way of ensuring closeness between the parties.

Ami

I think distance is a preference for both countries as we are thoroughly sick of one another. I applaud Mr. Brown for starting the ball rolling, and do hope that his counter-part on this side of the Atlantic keeps it going. We both need something fresh. Who knows maybe we will learn to appreciate one another again. I doubt it, but you never know.

Maduka

On a practical level, there is little the British can do in Iraq (and the troop withdrawal started under Tony Blair, anyway). Britain is a medium power, and is acutely aware of its limitations.

There is a price to pay for incompetence, period. The Bush administration is paying the price for incompetence.

In the past, America was accused of many things, but incompetence and a lack of strategic vision was not one of them.

If the American public can put up with an incompetently executed invasion, the British public has the right to opt out.

Let us not get too excited about Sarkozy. French troops are doing next to nothing in Afghanistan (and that has not changed under Sarkozy). He is merely blowing a lot of hot air .

JF

Maduka,

I must agree with you on Sarkozy. He's talked a good game and done nothing, not on economic reform (his budget was a disaster) and not on the Atlantic alliance (his stated goal for reintegrating into NATO is to better dominate it).

As far as the British presence in Iraq, I must disagree with you. The British play(ed) a key role in securing the supply lines from Kuwait through the south of the country, but have essentially allowed themselves to be bombed out of Basra. While it is true that Britain has steadily bulked up in Afghanistan to compensate, it's not accurate to say that as a medium power, Britain could not have done more. How else to explain its unbelievably small defense budget, which will put its once world-class navy on par with Belgium's (a country which may not even exist in the near future)?

As far as the charge of incompetence is concerned, the United States has never fought this kind of war before, and with fewer than 4,000 dead after four years of war, this is hardly a disaster.

However, contrary to British popular opinion, it is not and has never been subordinate to the US, and if Brown needs to jeopardize the mission in Iraq to prove this, then that's an internal British matter. But it will have international repercussions.

I think I'm with Ami on this. Perhaps we need a period of separation similar to the 120 year standoff that we experienced from 1776 to 1895.

Dale

'In the past, America was accused of many things, but incompetence and a lack of strategic vision was not one of them.'

Are you sure about that?

Simon Newman

JF:
"As far as the charge of incompetence is concerned, the United States has never fought this kind of war before"

The USA has fought many counter-insurgency wars, and before 1945 you used to win them. Recently the only victory I can think of was in quietly helping the government of El Salvador to put down a Marxist insurgency, which of course was a much smaller deal than Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam - the Salvadorean rebels had a small, discrete leadership of Marxist academics, once they were assassinated the rebellion faded out.

Maduka

JF,

The little strain in relationship between the US and Britain has deeper roots than most of us are aware of.

Many Englishmen are asking; 'What exactly did France and Germany lose by opposing the invasion in the first place?'. Sarkozy has brought this to the fore (i.e. Making a few supportive noises wins you more than standing up as an unquestioning ally of the United States).

The British feel that the US has taken them for granted for far too long. They point to the trident missile (Britain's nuclear deterrent is managed by the Americans). Then there is the JSF issue and the fact that Britain is gradually losing its capability to independently develop advanced weapons systems.

This view is also shared by the senior leadership in the Armed forces. British Generals have said (some openly, some discreetly) that their views were not taken into account by the Americans (especially under Rumsfeld). Then people accuse Tony Blair (rightly?) of being unable to influence US policy in the post-Saddam Iraq.

Not too long ago, General Sir Jackson wrote in his memoirs that Paul Bremer's de-baathification was 'nonsensical'. A year ago, General Dannatt wondered aloud about the utility of the British presence in Basra.

What Gordon Brown is doing is merely following up on the recommendation of his generals, and he made that clear at Camp David.

Can any one explain why Britain shouldn't 'do a little France' on the US. Afterall, the US takes France more seriously than it takes Britain.

Let us get serious here. The greatest ally that the US has in Europe is Britain - by mile. If Britain feels that it has to distance itself from the US, then the problem is not only with Britain but also with the US.

You are never going to see French troops in Basra (or German troops for that matter). The French aren't fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan (God knows what they are doing there).

The Bush administration must learn how to deal diplomatically with its allies (I even doubt they are capable of doing that!).

Maduka

Andrew Ian Dodge,

It is easy to accuse Cameron & Co of distancing themselves from the Republicans, but the question that should be asked is: 'Are the present crop of Republicans, Conservatives?'.

The present crop of Republicans have:
1. Expanded Government.
2. Increased Spending.
3. Run record deficits.
4. A record of incompetence.

Are these conservative traits?

The Republican Party is presently constituted of:
A. The Religious Right: Whose primary goal is to overturn Roe vs Wade and to fill the Supreme Court with social conservatives. Government expansion and increased spending matter little to this group.
B. Libertarians.
C. Neoconservatives.
D. Fiscal Conservatives.
E. Moderate Republicans.

George Bush's power base is the Religious Right and (to a lesser degree) the Neoconservatives. George Bush is no fiscal conservative and neither is he a moderate. The British Conservative party is not a party of the religious right.

As a consequence, candidates who cynically pander to the religious right - are not likely to be welcomed by the British Conservative party.

Ami

Pander to the religious right? Excuse me?Are we not supposed to have a say in our, repeat, our government because of our religious convictions and beliefs? Is that what you are saying? Are you also saying that Americans are only acceptable when we do what you demand of us?

The day when your newspapers felt comfortable enough to involve themselves in our elections with a letter writing campaign, and after the election to call 60 million of us "stupid" because we did not vote for the candidate that you found acceptable was the day I demanded a separation. Divorce is only the natural and next step at this point, and may I add it is long, long overdue. How dare you?

JF

Simon Newman,

Our fight against Marxist guerillas in South America is certainly decades-long, but I would hesitate to compare it to the insurgency we've been fighting in Iraq. South America has long been a CIA project with a few military interventions thrown in (El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti, one almost asks where we haven't intervened). Iraq is certainly much more comparable to Vietnam, except Vietnam was part of the maneuvering under the Cold War and was contained within its immediate neighborhood (intervention in and from Cambodia, Laos, China), whereas Iraq has been a magnet for Muslim fundamentalists from across the world.

In addition, we've never been in a position where a fanatical religious group living amidst our allies has acted so successfully to cow our allies into inaction, as is happening in Eurabia and Londonistan.

That said, we are winning this war, and we will finish it if given the necessary amount of time. Once Iraq, in the heart of the Arab world, is pacified, we will have the necessary experience and leverage to replicate this success in other countries in the Middle East.

JF

Maduka,

The British feel that the US has taken them for granted for far too long. They point to the trident missile (Britain's nuclear deterrent is managed by the Americans). Then there is the JSF issue and the fact that Britain is gradually losing its capability to independently develop advanced weapons systems.

The reason for this can be laid at the feet of the BBC and The Guardian. Britain certainly receives significant benefits from the "special relationship," including, but not limited to, a unique access to America's intelligence assets, a unique access to America's military technology (e.g. source code to the JSF), and yes, protection under America's defense umbrella which effectively serves as a massive subsidy, allowing it to slash its defense expenditures to the bone and still be assured of its safety.

Britain will miss these benefits if or when they are withdrawn, and already Australia (which fought with us in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq) is filling the void, having recently been upgraded to the same intelligence-sharing tier as the UK.

Britain is gradually losing its industrial defense capabilities because Britain has an open defense market, as compared to the US government's "buy American" mandates. Britain chose this path to save money and get the best equipment available on the market. To blame this on the US is rather shallow.

This view is also shared by the senior leadership in the Armed forces. British Generals have said (some openly, some discreetly) that their views were not taken into account by the Americans (especially under Rumsfeld). Then people accuse Tony Blair (rightly?) of being unable to influence US policy in the post-Saddam Iraq.

How did the United States interfere in Britain's area of operations in the South? From all the facts I'm aware of, Britain has lost that area to JAM all on its own, but I would certainly be interested if you have facts to the contrary.

Can any one explain why Britain shouldn't 'do a little France' on the US. Afterall, the US takes France more seriously than it takes Britain.

Britain should "do a little France" and see what happens--I would also be curious to see the repercussions. But in what concrete way does the US take France more seriously than it takes Britain, given that France has snubbed us every time we have ever asked it for anything?

Let us get serious here. The greatest ally that the US has in Europe is Britain - by mile.

Absolutely right. As long as Britain and America share the same values. But once Britain decides that it no longer shares those values, the alliance will disintegrate.

If Britain feels that it has to distance itself from the US, then the problem is not only with Britain but also with the US.

Not necessarily. In the broadest sense, it is Britain that has changed, not the US. The war on terror is just another manifestation of the containment strategy, but for whatever reason, Britain doesn't have the willpower to see this through. The US has three options: it can also abandon the fight; it can beg Britain for help and ply it with bribes, reducing Britain to the same level as all those third-world allies we have purchased on the Security Council; or it can look elsewhere (i.e. Australia) for new alliances. I can't say what the US will do, but I can tell you that the first two options are not my preference.

Maduka

Ami,

The same people who accuse the Democrats of pandering to 'the African American Community', are ready to fight you if you accuse Republicans of 'pandering to the Religious Right'.

Both sides pander.

David Kuo pointed this out in his recent book.

What exactly has the religious right gained from the Republican party - precious little. Yet John McCain (who found it difficult to attend a minority debate), found time to address the commencement of Jerry Falwell's School. George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, Mitt Romney and Rudy are suddenly in pro-choice, anti-gay rights and pro-gun.

If that is not pandering, then what is it?

Thankfully, the Religious Right now sees these people for what they are (cynical opportunists). This is why they are making angry noises about Rudy.

I am American.

Maduka

JF,

I have lived in Europe. Europe is not turning Islamic, Europe will not turn Islamic.

France and Germany have significant Islamic populations, but the greatest source of new immigrants is not from the Middle East but from Eastern Europe.

Much has been made of the Muslim community in Britain, but we tend to forget the Sikh, Hindu, Eastern European and Afro-Carribean community.

According to the 2001 census, only 3.1 percent of the population of England identified as Muslim. Muslims are the most vocal, that is why their influence is sometimes exaggerated.

From my experience, the fastest growing religious movement in Europe is Evangelical Christianity. This is under the radar because:
1. The practitioners are generally law abiding.
2. It is normally associated with African Immigrants. (No one in Europe wants to be associated with African immigrants).

Now, the Government in England had a history of permitting vile Islamist preachers, thankfully, this is now changing.

Maduka

JF,

Both the US and Britain have changed.

9/11 changed the US and it also changed Britain. But please understand that Britain has a much richer history of facing existential threats than the US.

Britain has survived the Blitz, the IRA bombing campaign and the Spanish Armada. Britain has dealt with numerous wars.

Should the US have reacted to 9/11, definitely. Should the US have invaded Afghanistan to flush out the Taliban? yes. Should the US fight Al Qaeda, yes.

The problem starts with a war of choice, the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq was always a risky proposition, and hindsight shows us why.

You cannot impose freedom from the barrel of a gun. We sought to embark on the most ambitous program of social engineering ever undertaken.

And we failed.

We have created an unbelievably messy situation in the Middle East:

1. One out of every six Jordanians is now an Iraqi Refugee. If the experience of the Palestianians in Jordan teaches us anything, the future is dangerous.
2. A million Iraqi refugees in Syria. If Iraqis escape American occupied Iraqi to go to Syria, then in the Iraqi mind, Syria cannot be that bad. (And no Amount of American propaganda can change that).
3. We have empowered Iran and accentuated the Sunni-Shia faultlines within Iraq. We have an American supported Shia regime in Iraq that counts Iran (and Ahmedinejad) as an ally and visits Teheran frequently.

The British, with an army of barely 100,000 are quick to see their limitations. The problem is that the US has yet to come to terms with its limitations.

No matter how much hot air we blow, we all know how this will end. It will end when Realpolitik takes over.

When that happens we can devote our resources to:
1. Revitalizing the US information agency.
2. Fighting terrorism like the crime it is.
3. Covert operations against terrorists.
4. Understanding the Arab/Muslim world (Iraq shows that we clearly DO NOT understand this part of the World).

Realpolitik (and not Neoconservative fantasies) should guide our engagement with Iran.

Ami

You're an American? Well that puts a very different spin on your comments. Thank you for clearing that up.

JF

But please understand that Britain has a much richer history of facing existential threats than the US.

Britain has survived the Blitz, the IRA bombing campaign and the Spanish Armada. Britain has dealt with numerous wars.

I'm not sure "existential" is the correct term to use, as none of these crises threatened to destroy England as an entity, only to defeat or dominate it.

The Blitz must have been a nightmare, to be sure, but with 51,000 or so killed, it pales in comparison to British losses in the Battle of the Somme, in which Britain lost 60,000 on the first day alone.

The IRA terrorism also was not an existential threat, but it probably lasted as long as it did because of the British preference for a light touch in crushing that insurgency. It never brought to bear the full force of its military even in North Ireland, let alone Ireland proper.

The Spanish Armada was a disaster for Spain, so I'm not sure what you're getting at with that one.

The United States isn't exactly without its own existential threats, and by that I mean legitimate existential threats, such as 1776, 1812, and the Civil War.

As for "wars of choice," the United States has been engaged in such wars for well over a century, including the War of 1812, the War of 1898 and WWI. To criticize this particular war is to overlook nearly the entirety of US history (by the way, New England opposed the War of 1812 and refused to fund it, so some things never change, eh?). In this context, I can't say that your objection to "wars of choice" is valid.

And we failed.

Proof? We're not even done yet. I know you're eager to declare failure, but with 160,000 troops there, it would be hard for you to claim that this war is done.

1. One out of every six Jordanians is now an Iraqi Refugee. If the experience of the Palestianians in Jordan teaches us anything, the future is dangerous.

This is a superb development. Since Iraqi Sunnis are not distinct ethnically, linguistically, culturally, or religiously from their "Palestinian" counterparts, the refugees will further serve to dilute the artificial idea of the "Palestinian" national identity.

2. A million Iraqi refugees in Syria. If Iraqis escape American occupied Iraqi to go to Syria, then in the Iraqi mind, Syria cannot be that bad. (And no Amount of American propaganda can change that).

Those Iraqis are mostly Sunni. The rulers of Syria are Alawite Shia in bed with the Iranian Shia. These Sunni refugees are surely no allies of Assad and may help weaken that regime, if not directly, then indirectly through the strain it causes on Syrian resources.

3. We have empowered Iran and accentuated the Sunni-Shia faultlines within Iraq. We have an American supported Shia regime in Iraq that counts Iran (and Ahmedinejad) as an ally and visits Teheran frequently.

The regional "Awakening" movements prove that the Sunnis are increasingly seeing us as their allies. There are reports of similar movements developing in the Shia south, but irrespective of this, excepting JAM the Shia have not demonstrated overt hostility to the Americans. Sure, the government is a failure--but the Iranian-aligned parties are in disarray and losing popularity.

The British, with an army of barely 100,000 are quick to see their limitations.

Self-imposed limitations, to be sure, but this is one of the G7 we are talking about. Somehow lack of economic resources hasn't stopped Australia, Poland, Romania, El Salvador, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Albania, Mongolia (for G-d's sake, Mongolia!), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Armenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Moldova from contributing troops.

That said, I'm grateful for the British contribution. They stood by our side when Canada, for instance, would not.

No matter how much hot air we blow, we all know how this will end. It will end when Realpolitik takes over.

I think we've had this discussion before. Realpolitik is what got us into this mess in the first place. Realpolitik will only delay the day that we confront the problems in the Middle East. There is an article in Commentary Magazine which I think does a good job of refuting the canard that Neoconservatism failed, if you have the patience to read it.

Kevin Sampson

"2. Fighting terrorism like the crime it is.
3. Covert operations against terrorists."

You do realize that these two statements are completely contradictory, don't you? The first states that terrorism is a crime and therefore should be handled by the police and the courts. The second advocates 'covert operations' against criminals. To say this is un-constitutional doesn't even begin to cover it.

Maduka

JF,

There is nothing 'conservative' about an activist militaristic foreign policy.

The conservative position is to take into account the history, geography and culture of a given region. Conservatives also realize that change tends to be incremental.

An example is South Africa. Change in South Africa was incremental, and has so far been a success.

The South African regime was vile and racist, but if it was violently removed- the consequences could have been massive bloodshed and fragmentation into Zulu areas, Xhosa areas, Boer areas and Colored areas.

We have to do away with the 'Troskyite' impulse for endless revolution (I am told that many Neoconservatives are former Troskyites).

In Iraq we have delivered so much shock to the system. In effect we have DESTABILISED the region.

Is a destabilised Middle East in America's (or Israel's) interest?

The next stop is Iran. Now, given our experience in Iraq, what can we realistically afford to do?

Dale

I think you are all over reacting.

First of all its a void between bush and brown not britain and america. John McCain spoke at the 2006 tory party conference, arnold swarzneggar spoke at this years tory party conference, rudy guilliani gave the first inaugural margaret thatcher lecture organised by atlantic bridge this year. Britain and america aren't getting a 'divorce', we couldn't even if we wanted to. Britain and america are too culturally similar with the same values, legal system etc

BTW Ami, I will apologise for the Guardian and the Independents meddling in american politics, but they do not represent the british people, and it seems a litle silly to rish an international relationship because of two fairly unpopular newspapers.

I will end by saying that in a world increasingly influenced by a communist dictatorship, am,erica, britain, canada, australia, new zealand and other countries in the sphere of influence cannot afford to be ripped apart by petty differences.

Dale

that should be 'risk' not 'rish'

Simon Newman

Maduka:
"British Generals have said (some openly, some discreetly) that their views were not taken into account by the Americans (especially under Rumsfeld)"

To be fair, I don't think the current US govt has treated the British military any worse than they've treated the US military.

Simon Newman

JF:
"That said, we are winning this war, and we will finish it if given the necessary amount of time. Once Iraq, in the heart of the Arab world, is pacified, we will have the necessary experience and leverage to replicate this success in other countries in the Middle East."

I fear you're merely playing into Al Qaeda's hands, destroying or destabilising secular nationalist dictatorships and creating an environment in which Islamist groups flourish.

Simon Newman

JF:
"In addition, we've never been in a position where a fanatical religious group living amidst our allies has acted so successfully to cow our allies into inaction, as is happening in Eurabia and Londonistan."

But during the Cold War there was a very powerful communist fifth column active throughout the western democracies; indeed many of Europe's current political leaders were once Soviet agents, or at least sympathetic to the USSR and its goals. And the Soviets did use western terrorist groups such as Baader-Meinhof (an East German client) and (less directly) the IRA. So there is something of a precedent. I think the difference is that the gulf in understanding now is much greater - as Samuel Huntington pointed out in The Clash of Civilisations, a liberal-democrat and a Marxist-Leninist could hold a conversation and argue, because they held many shared premises, but a liberal-democrat and an Islamist cannot hold a meaninhful debate, because their premises are utterly different. At most the Islamists may use cultural Marxist terminology as a form of taqiyya, but amongst themselves their language is quite different, and Western ideas and ideals are irrelevant.

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