Britain’s ‘Special’ Relationship
Britain’s much-vaunted special relationship with the United States got a clunking reality-check with the arrival of President Joe Biden for the G7 summit.
Biden told Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, to stop messing around with the European Union over Brexit negotiations concerning Northern Ireland. According to reports, Biden ordered a severe diplomatic rebuke to Johnson not to jeopardize peace in Ireland from British wrangling about customs controls.
That’s pretty sobering for the “junior partner”. It totally deflates British delusions of grandeur and shows Johnson and his ilk to be nothing but lackeys to the Americans who call the shots.
Since the Second World War, we constantly hear about this American-British “special” alliance as if it is somehow a hallowed global force for good. We hear about “our shared values” and other platitudes.
Well, it is special alright. Britain serves as Uncle Sam’s flunky. The Brits provide political, diplomatic and sometimes military cover for American wars of aggression around the world.
The Americans indulge the Brits by smiling and shaking hands for photo-ops like we will see at the G7 summit this week, and by also swooning for the cameras about a “special relationship”. But that term of condescending endearment does not mean parity between the two.
The exemplar of reality was perhaps best seen during the GW Bush administration and Tony Blair’s premiership. The Americans wanted to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, not to avenge 9/11, but to impose “full-spectrum dominance” of US imperialism following the Cold War era. And Tony Blair, with typical British flair for moralizing and affecting civility, gave Washington the moral and seeming legal pretext for launching criminal wars.
For the Americans, that’s what is really special about the Brits. They are dutiful lapdogs that perform an invaluable service of providing gravitas and propaganda to excuse what are otherwise heinous crimes under international law.
The Americans have indisputable military muscle, but the British have an inimitable knack for conniving wordplay and duplicity.
The first British bearer of the special relationship was Winston Churchill who coined the Atlantic Charter with Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 during the Second World War. When that war was won largely by the sacrifices of the Soviet Union, it was Churchill who crucially conceptualized the Cold War that the Anglo-American capitalist powers demanded in order to isolate Moscow. Churchill delivered his rousing Iron Curtain speech in the United States in 1946 before an admiring President Harry Truman. That speech can be seen as the beginning of the Cold War which was really just a curtain to conceal American imperialist plunder in every continent.
The current British leader Boris Johnson, who likes to emulate Churchill, seems to have got above his station with delusions of grandeur.
Johnson is reportedly not happy about the term “special relationship” because he feels that overusing the phrase implies that Britain is “needy and weak” and overly dependent on Uncle Sam.
This British prime minister was the main architect behind Britain’s Brexit from the European Union. In his hubristic mind, Johnson believes that “Great Britain” (as if that name wasn’t enough!) is now set to become “Global Britain”. He thinks he’s leading Buccaneering Britain to rule the waves again as if it was the 19th century when the British empire pilfered a fifth of the world’s landmass.
Hence his government is sending aircraft carrier battle groups to the South China Sea and declaring warnings to Russia and China over alleged malign conduct. This is while British society is crumbling from poverty and decay.
In the arrogance of Johnson and many others in the British political class, the “special relationship” with the US should mean the two are equals.
But the reality is Britain is a mere flunky – albeit a useful flunky – of the US. It has always been needy and weak as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. If it weren’t for the Americans intervening to bail them out financially and militarily, the Brits would have been defeated in World War I and II.
Joe Biden is not someone to look up to as a leader. None of the US presidents are, except for maybe John F Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. They are all imperialist warmongers.
Nevertheless, Biden’s Irish sympathies have been rankled by Johnson and Britain’s backsliding on Brexit which is stoking dangerous tensions in Ireland over a historic dispute border.
The amusing – and enlightening – upshot from that is Biden showing in a very embarrassing way just who the boss is in the relationship between the US and Britain. Johnson has been told in no uncertain terms by the Americans to stop acting the cad and start implementing what he signed up to with Europe. That is what’s special.