UK and US “special relationship” taken to a new level amid anti-war protests
25 May, 2011 23:26
Gaddafi ‘must go’, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Obama said no US ground troops would be sent into the North African country.
PM David Cameron and President Obama, speaking with journalists in the wake of the US President’s two-day visit to London, underlined that the coalition’s actions in Libya fully comply with the UN resolution 1973. President Barack Obama said there would be no “let up” in the pressure on Libya’s Leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has been resisting the coalition’s operation in the country for over two months. Despite Cameron stating that he and Obama agreed on the need to turn up the heat on Libya, President Obama did not commit to send any US ground forces into the country. "Once you rule out ground forces, then there are going to be some inherent limitations to our air strike operations," Obama said."It means that the opposition on the ground in Libya is going to have to carry out its responsibilities and we are going to have to do effective coordination, and we are doing that with the opposition on the ground," he added.The two leaders said the operation in Libya would be a slow, steady process which would require "patience and persistence."The two leaders’ meeting also focused on setting up a joint security board between the US and the UK. It will help with the sharing and coordination of the countries defense and security resources.Obama’s visit comes as NATO escalates its involvement in the war in Libya. France has said it will deploy helicopters, bringing combat operations closer to the ground. As the global war machine rumbles on, with the alliance of London and Washington at the helm – this new agreement to pool information and resources may only add fuel to the fire. Anglo-Saxon war machine fires up protests amid Obama’s visit to London All eyes remain on London for the second day of the US president's state visit, which comes amid calls for Obama and British PM David Cameron to overcome their addiction to war.Warm greetings and a royal banquet on the opulent premises of Buckingham palace – Britain has well and truly rolled out the red carpet for Barack Obama, designed to affirm the so-called "special relationship" between the two nations.Washington’s preparing to open up its highly secretive national security council to London, as the two countries pledge to deal jointly with perceived security and foreign policy challenges. But at what cost to the rest of the world?“The UK has a long history of unconditionally supporting the US.This plan will only formalize what’s already there,” says Phil Rees, a journalist and a documentary filmmaker. Not everyone welcomes President Obama’s presence in the UK. A range of groups are using it as an opportunity to demonstrate against what they see as the Anglo-Saxon war machine. Islamist fringe organizations have long linked aggressive foreign policy, led by the US and the UK while concurrently support by France and other NATO allies, with terrorist attacks. But they are not the only ones who view things this way. Anjem Choudary, of the moderate group Muslims Against the Crusades, believes that “There is a war taking place, against Muslims and the lesson is, until they leave Muslim lands, to stop supporting the dictators in Muslim countries,stop torturing us, supporting the pirate state of Israel, the quagmire of violence, 7/7, 9/11 etc, will not stop.” The US and UK have been involved in two major wars in the last ten years.In both Iraq and Afghanistan, America persuaded Britain to come along with them, reinforcing Britain’s reputation as the US’s lapdog.But this time it’s different – in Libya, it’s Britain taking the lead in NATO, with the US keen to keep its role to a minimum.A deepening of cooperation between the two is something this group of demonstrators vehemently objects to.“The majority of voters wanted to draw a line under the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascos. This type of formalization of the defense relationship between the UK and US is the last thing they want, and a total disaster for the rest of the world,” says John Rees from the Stop The War Foundation.Outside Buckingham Palace, where Obama is staying, protestors are trying to persuade him and British prime minister Cameron to stop waging wars in foreign lands.So far it hasn’t worked – on Tuesday, Obama and Cameron were united in their intention to increase pressure on Colonel Gadaffi in Libya.‘UK-US special relationship outdated’ – Washington analystBecause of all the theater and flamboyance in the past about the “special relationship,” almost everything the two states do now gets measured against that, noted Steve Clemons, the publisher of the Washington Note political blog and director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation.“There is a whole new emerging set of global stakeholders that somewhat make anachronistic this precious UK-US relationship in the same sense that it was looked at in the past,” he declared.
Whatever the US and NATO have done in Libya, it seems to be too little too late, argued Daniel Wagner, chief executive officer of Country Risk Solutions, a political risk consulting firm based in Connecticut.“The question becomes whether they will be able to turn this around without committing substantial new resources,” he said.So far it looks like they have neither the resources, mandate nor public support to do so, much less a viable exit strategy, Wagner added.
No differences between US and UK – analystThe special ties between the US and UK in the realm of national security go a bit against the process of European integration, pointed out Michel Chossudovsky from the Center for Research on Globalization, noting that there are no fundamental differences between the two countries. “But if we look at British public opinion, we are dealing with something entirely different. Britain has a very strong anti-US sentiment,” Chossudovsky stated. “The public has never supported Britain’s involvement in the war.”“But one thing is British public opinion, and the other is decisions taken by the British government,” he declared.
Britain does not have a lobby in America, it relies very much upon what it considers to be historical ties and they are very sentimental, argues Ian Williams, a UN correspondent for Tribune Magazine and senior analyst with the Foreign Policy in Focus think tank in New York.“The US, through most of World War II, was bleeding Britain dry: Britain paid for every item of weaponry that it used in World War II,” Williams said. “For example, they only finished paying the war debt a few years ago, but it suited the British government over the years to cherish this illusion of a ‘special relationship’ with the US.”“It is interesting, one of the few signs of independence Britain has shown over the years, even Margaret Thatcher when Ronald Reagan was president, has been on the Middle East issue, with the brief exception of the second term for Tony Blair,” Williams noted. “The British government has consistently voted with the rest of the world on Middle East issues and against the US.”
UK’s intelligence is sharing intel with US intelligence more than ever, and British nuclear deterrence is fully dependable on US military satellites, so there hardly can be any friction between the allies, noted Phil Rees, a Welsh writer, reporter and television producer. “What is happening today is largely symbolic. What Obama is trying to do is to recreate what Bush called ‘the coalition of the willing,’” Rees said. “So he is trying to get the traditional allies together to confront the really dramatic changes that are occurring in the Middle East.”