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British paranoia over “special relationship”

According to the latest Wikileaks, Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election last May to promise that they would run a “pro-American regime” and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year. The leaked Embassy dispatches also reveal – in what the Guardian says is “in humiliating detail” – how US diplomats in London were amused by what they call Britain’s “paranoid” fears about the so-called special relationship.

One said the anxious British attitude “would often be humorous if it were not so corrosive” and that it was tempting to take advantage of this neurosis to “make London more willing to respond favourably when pressed for assistance”.

Liam Fox, now the defence secretary, promised to buy American military equipment, while the current foreign secretary, William Hague, offered the ambassador a “pro-American” government. Hague also said the entire Conservative leadership was, like him, “staunchly Atlanticist” and “children of Thatcher”.

A disturbing picture emerges of politicians such as Hague and Fox acting as supplicants – and proving their own point that some of their colleagues did not share their views because they didn’t see why Britain should act as some kind of glorified supplicant.

Perhaps the British politicians in question were so paranoid about the so called ‘Special Relationship’, because deep down they know that this is a British construct, which is never referred to in the United States. Perhaps if they knew the value of real relationships, they wouldn’t have been so desperate to impress.

Of course, wars of independence and British expeditionary raids (including one that famously burned down the White House) notwithstanding, Britain remain an important ally to the United States. Bonds of language and culture tie the countries together. But let’s be honest and grown up! Britain is part of the European Union, which is a much more important trading bloc than Britain on her own. China, Russia and the Middle East are far more important than Britain to America, and of course America also has an unhealthy ‘special relationship’ with Israel – more so than with Britain.

The sight of British politicians queuing up in order to ingratiate themselves rather pathetically is altogether nauseating. They invite ridicule rather than respect.

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