Saturday 28 January 2017


My political antennae are well-positioned for crap-detecting. The phrase 'Special Relationship' has been heard so often in recent days that the alarm bells are sounding unbearably in my ears. Prime-minister May and President Trump and their teams have wrung the rhetoric dry and exposed the cliché of a special relationship high and dry for further scrutiny. I can only hope that most people can see through them and the deceptions  - if not now then in that future time when the proverbial chickens will have come home to roost.

Trump and May - a natural or a special relationship?

Here are some facts to consider. Not post-truth facts. Real facts. Objective facts. My source is Wikipedia - check the references - these facts qualify as facts. Here is a tale of a relationship that has fluctuated according to the needs of both the stronger party - the USA - and the will and political  judgement of the prime minister of the weaker party - the UK.

  • The United States gradually became involved in the Vietnam War in the early 1960s, but this time received no support from the United Kingdom. Anti-Americanism due to the Vietnam 
  • War and a lack of American support for France and the United Kingdom over the Suez Crisis weighed heavily on the minds of many in Europe. Harold Wilson refused to send British troops to Indochina.

  • Anglo-American relations deteriorated noticeably during the early 1970s. Throughout his premiership, Heath insisted on using the phrase "natural relationship" instead of "special relationship" to refer to Anglo-American relations, acknowledging the historical and cultural similarities but carefully denying anything special beyond that.[91] Heath was determined to restore a measure of equality to Anglo-American relations which the USA had increasingly dominated as the power and economy of the United Kingdom flagged in the post-colonial era.[92]

  • Heath's renewed push for British admittance to the European Economic Community (EEC) brought new tensions between the United Kingdom and the United States.

  • Throughout the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher was strongly supportive of Ronald Reagan's unwavering stance towards the Soviet Union. Often described as "political soulmates" and a high point in the "Special Relationship", Reagan and Thatcher met many times throughout their political careers, speaking in concert when confronting Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev.

  • In 1982, the British Government made a request to the United States, which the Americans agreed upon in principle, to sell the Trident II D5 ballistic missile, associated equipment, and related system support for use on four Vanguard class nuclear submarines in the Royal Navy. The Trident II D5 ballistic missile replaced the United Kingdom's previous use of the UGM-27 Polaris ballistic missile, beginning in the mid-1990s.[88]

Nightmare - a small nuclear bomb (20-40 kilotons) - one of  several - exploding over British cities

  • 67 Britons were among the 2,977 victims killed during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001, which were orchestrated by Al-Qaeda. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was an enormous outpouring of sympathy from the United Kingdom for the American people, and Tony Blair was one of George W. Bush's strongest international supporters for bringing al-Qaeda and the Taliban to justice. Indeed, Blair became the most articulate spokesman. He was the only foreign leader to attend an emergency joint session of Congress called immediately after the attacks (and remains the only foreign leader ever to attend such a session), where he received two standing ovations from members of Congress.

  • By 2007, support amongst the British public for the Iraq war had plummeted.[101] Despite Tony Blair's historically low approval ratings with the British people, mainly due to allegations of faulty government intelligence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction, his unapologetic and unwavering stance for the British alliance with the United States can be summed up in his own words. He said, "We should remain the closest ally of the US ... not because they are powerful, but because we share their values."[102] The alliance between George W. Bush and Tony Blair seriously damaged the prime minister's standing in the eyes of many British citizens.[103] Tony Blair argued it was in the United Kingdom's interest to "protect and strengthen the bond" with the United States regardless of who is in the White House.[104] A perception that the relationship was unequal led to use of the term"Poodle-ism" in the British media, that Britain and its leaders were lapdogs to the Americans.[105]

Nightmare - 20 miles from Ground Zero

  • Post Cold War drawdown

  • With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the need for large numbers of USAF forces in the UK no longer existed and plans were made for significant cuts.
  • The bases at Bentwaters, Woodbridge, Chicksands, Greenham Common, Sculthorpe, Wethersfield and Upper Heyford were closed by the end of 1993. Alconbury's flightline have been closed, and with its base support functions taken over by RAF Molesworth. However, in 2015 it was announced that Molesworth, Mildenhall and Alconbury are to be closed,[1] leaving RAF Lakenheath the only operating USAFE airbase in the UK, which will continue to host the 48th Fighter Wing.
  • The USAF also maintains a communications station at RAF Croughton, as well as a jointly operated communications and intelligence support station with the RAF at RAF Menwith Hill

A natural relationship - Heath's phrase - I can live with. A special relationship is a phrase that smells  dodgy. I sniff a political spin in the air. A whiff of self-deception.

We are a strategic ally of the USA. We are the British Isles that house a nuclear armoury that is essentially under the control of our American allies, specifically their commander-in-chief, the President of the USA. Our PM - and the American President - are talking up the special relationship.

I find that scary.    

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