Britain and America: Georgia
David Miliband, the current Foreign Secretary, we are told by a section of the media, is a clever man (as well as more telegenic than Gordon Brown). Well, I like clever, and I want someone clever to process the data before making big decisions. But where’s the beef? What has he ever done or said to deserve his reputation? Take his contribution to the Wag-the-Dog-for-real, the help-elect-McCain-president exercise being run in Georgia. Like some latter-day Palmerstone he warns Russia not to do this and that. Presumably he didn’t write the speech. Presumably the speech was the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Another bunch of clever people, apparently. So why do they do this stupid shit? What is it that the British state gains from its subservient relationship with America?
Well, your guess is probably as good as anyone’s because this is one of those things never discussed in public. My guesses would include the following:
1. They get to hang out with big boys. They get to go to many conferences and powwows. They get phone-calls from the big players. They get exciting and congenial overseas postings. Yes, being the school bully’s best friend is a demeaning role but you do get to watch the bully at close quarters and occasionally you get to kick someone.
2. They get some intelligence from the American intelligence-gathering system they couldn’t get themselves. (Though what good it does them is unclear to me.)
3. They get to use the NSA to do their illegal domestic surveillance (and the Americans get to use GCHQ) and thus both sides have plausible deniability.
4. The American banks continue to use London rather anywhere else (and it could be anywhere, these days) and thus the big cheques keep rolling into the extended family accounts in the south of England.
And that’s about it, as far as I can see. And maybe it’s enough; maybe it justifies having to say and do stupid things on behalf of the school bully. But isn’t it curious that there are so few British ‘Gaullists’ within the British state and political system, seeking independence from the Great Satan? The last British politician who was willing to say ‘Non’ to the Americans was Edward Heath. Since then it’s been a parade of sycophants.