PETER HITCHENS writes America isn’t our special friend – Daily Mail
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Now will we grasp that the United States is not our friend, but a foreign country whose interests are often different from ours?
President Obama’s blatant intervention in our internal affairs is not a sudden breach of a soppy ‘special relationship’. The USA’s only real special relationship is with Saudi Arabia, a 70-year-old hard pact of oil, money and power, welded together with such cynicism it ought to make us gasp.
Barack Obama’s open desire for us to stay inside the EU is by no means the first or worst example of White House meddling here in these islands. Bill Clinton forced us to cave in to the Provisional IRA in 1998 and his successor, George W. Bush, continued the policy by making us do Sinn Fein’s bidding afterwards.
Washington came close to scuppering our recapture of the F alklands in 1982. And with the current state of our Armed Forces, which can nowadays do nothing without American support, I often wonder how the White House and the Pentagon would behave if Argentina once again seized Port Stanley.
President Obama’s blatant intervention in our internal affairs is not a sudden breach of a soppy ‘special relationship’. The USA’s only real special relationship is with Saudi Arabia, a 70-year-old hard pact of oil, money and power, welded together with such cynicism it ought to make us gasp
If anyone thinks Hillary Clinton is a great friend of Britain, they’re in for a big surprise.
But surely the Americans fought with us shoulder to shoulder against the Kaiser and Hitler? Not exactly. The USA (quite rightly) fought for its own interest in both great wars, not for us.
When we ran out of money after the First World War, Washington seized the chance to force us to limit our Navy, and so began to overtake us as the world’s major naval power. We had feared Germany would do this. It is one of the great ironies of history that it was the USA that ended British sea power.
In the blackest months of the Second World War, just after the fall of France, the US Congress demanded almost every penny we owned before it would authorise the famous Lend- Lease programme.
Secret convoys of Royal Navy warships carried our reserves of gold bullion (estimated to have been worth £26 billion in today’s values) across the Atlantic – mostly never to return. Billions in negotiable securities went the same way, and British assets in the USA were sold off at absurdly low prices.
I don’t blame the Americans for this. In 1934, Britain had defaulted on her giant First World War debt to the USA. This is now worth up to £225 billion in today’s money, depending on how you calculate inflation.
We still haven’t paid it off, and never will, though it’s not considered polite to discuss it and it’s one of those facts so grotesque that most people refuse to believe it when first told of it.
During the Hitler war, the USA gave us enough aid to stay in the fight, but not enough to recover our former economic strength. The eventual peace was made on American terms, and Soviet terms, with us as onlookers. And after the war, Marshall Aid came with strings – open up the British Empire to outside trade, and then begin to dismantle it.
Not wanting to get embroiled in any more European wars, the USA also put a lot of effort into creating a permanently united Europe. Documents came to light in the 1990s, probably by accident, showing detailed CIA involvement in the European Movement.
I regard America’s behaviour as perfectly reasonable. It’s the sort of thing we used to do when we were top nation, and had more sense than to squander our wealth on idealistic foreign wars.
I like America and Americans, lived there happily for two fascinating years, and wish them well. But I never forget that the USA is another country, not a friend or even a cousin. Nor should you.
BRILLIANT HELEN IN THE FRONT LINE OF AN IMMORAL WAR
Best film of the year so far is Eye In The Sky in which Helen Mirren, in beautifully tailored camouflage, plays a British Army colonel trying to decide whether to launch a deadly drone strike on a terrorist safe house in Africa.
The late and much lamented Alan Rickman, in his last on-screen role, plays a red-tabbed general who has to deal with the politicians and their dithering.
The target house is crammed with front-rank terrorist commanders. But just outside it sits an innocent little girl, selling loaves of bread.
What do you do?
I won’t tell you what they do, but I am surprised we’re not much more worried about this form of warfare. Victims of ordinary bombing from the air are famously angered and frustrated by being subjected to an attack to which there is no defence. But this is much more alarming.
Best film of the year so far is Eye In The Sky in which Helen Mirren, in beautifully tailored camouflage, plays a British Army colonel trying to decide whether to launch a deadly drone strike on a terrorist safe house in Africa
A woman at a desk in Nevada, by squeezing a trigger, can (without any risk to herself) obliterate or dismember another human being thousands of miles away, tearing them to shreds or dissolving them in a lake of fire.
An older generation than mine would have mumbled in mild tones ‘That’s not cricket!’ But today’s ruthless anti-terror macho man will reply: ‘We’re dealing with terrorists. The rules have changed. You can’t use chivalry when fighting with such people.’
Bystanders will see these attacks for themselves, or may be scorched or wounded by them. It is more than possible, for it happened to a wedding party in Yemen in December 2013, that entirely innocent people will be vaporised by mistake. Will their relatives be more or less likely to turn against us, once they have witnessed such events?
Precisely because it is so risk-free to us, it is outrageous and infuriating to those who see it on their own streets, who will feel as if we are treating them as insects to be casually swatted.
No doubt it will allow us to kill, by remote control, all kinds of people we don’t like. But is this moral? Would we send someone to walk up to them in the street and shoot them without warning or any kind of judicial process?
And would we accept it if a foreign power launched such attacks on our soil? I find it especially interesting that governments (such as ours) which sniffily refuse to execute convicted murderers, and so defend us from armed violence, are content to support this form of warfare.
How can arbitrary killing from the sky be right, and execution after a fair trial be wrong?
Glad as I am to see the long-delayed decision to support some of what’s left of our steel industry, I grind my teeth in fury that nothing was done to help the honest, hard-working steelmen of Redcar, who now miserably face the loss of their homes as their murdered town sinks into enforced idleness.
Here’s a solution. Most members of our Government seem to regard the industrial areas of Britain as a foreign country. Fine. Then let them admit it openly, and so include Redcar and the rest in the swollen, uncuttable foreign aid budget. Simple, eh?
Graffiti attacking the regime has begun to appear in North Korea. This is the beginning of the end. Nothing so undermines authority, stability and order as the appearance of these hideous scribbles.
While visiting the decrepit, bankrupt Hermit Kingdom a few years ago, I concluded (after observing several citizens prone and unconscious in the street) that its people survived mainly by drinking too much rice wine. Perhaps they have now run out of that, too.
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PETER HITCHENS writes America isn’t our special friend – Daily Mail