The short & immediate answer is Not Yet. The Special Relationship between USA & UK has been touted as the bulwark of US policy in Europe and rightly so. And this “special” relationship could get more special as Britain completes its Brexit. At least that has been America’s intention. Read what Vice President Pence told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost this week:
- “…. when I went at the President’s direction in September, I met with Prime Minister Johnson I told him the moment the UK is out of Brexit, we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK. And now the UK is out of Brexit. Our teams have begun that process to work … “
Any one who watched the visit of President Trump to London & Scotland, any one who has listened to him on Britain sees that he does have a special warmth for Britain.
1.Apoplectic about Huawei
So why is any one surprised to read that President Trump went “apoplectic” on Prime Minister Johnson during a phone call about Johnson’s decision to let China’s Huawei into Britain’s plans for a 5G network. And this is a real problem as Vice President Pence told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost in the interview:
- “… we just don’t believe that, that utilizing the assets the technology of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interest of the UK of the United States. And it remains a real issue between our two countries…. “
This is a serious issue for America. It is doubly serious because of this decision’s impact on other countries. As Geopolitical Futures wrote recently,
- “As a core “Five Eyes” member, the U.K. boasts a robust intelligence relationship with the U.S., so London’s decision, especially if the U.S. proves to be bluffing on the matter, will likely serve as a de facto green light to other countries that have been reluctant to do business with the Chinese.”
2. Scorpion’s nature; Be a tortoise or a frog?
In a modern version of the fable, a frog accepts a scorpion’s request to carry him over a pond to other side because the scorpion tells him that if he bites the frog then they will both die because he can’t swim. Then the scorpion bites the frog any way midstream. When the dying frog asks why, the scorpion say “it’s my nature“.
We prefer the old Indian tale of the scorpion & the tortoise. The scorpion bites the tortoise midstream but the tortoise survives the sting because of its protective shell. Then the tortoise punishes the scorpion by letting it drown.
While extolling the “special relationship” with the UK, we need to remember that the UK has historically relied on support of others only to sting them in the back when the others are no longer of use to the UK.
In fact, the US & the UK have been adversaries for longer than they have been allies. Even after the war of 1812 & the end of Britain’s land ambitions in America, Britain strove mightily to keep the Atlantic its preserve with its global navy. And even after WWI, American war planning did include a potential naval war with the UK in the Atlantic.
It was the threat of Hitler’s Germany & Britain’s inability to cope with Germany that forced Churchill to essentially surrender Britain’s naval bases to America & sign the lend-lease agreement.And the British army did little in the land war against Germany after Montgomery’s battle with Rommel at El-Alamein in Africa.
Britain gained tremendously from post WWII American help & largesse. And the Special Relationship with America enabled Britain to maintain its illusion of remaining a power with global influence.
Now look back & see that China’s rise slowly changed Britain’s analysis of where its interests may lie in the future. The answer was not as America’s junior partner. The allure of China was just too great. For example, China offered to make London the world’s center for offshore trading of Chinese currency. Then there was the allure of Chinese investment. And Britain, under Prime Minister Cameron, began distancing itself from America. His big decision was to support & back the new Chinese alternative to the World Bank despite intense pressure from President Obama.
And Boris Johnson himself has had illusions about England vs. America. Remember his asinine boast a few years ago that London was a bigger & a more important financial center than New York. So why should any one be surprised about Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to stab President Trump in the back, the only global leader who enthusiastically backed Brexit.
It is absolutely appropriate for President Trump to be livid & apoplectic. And it is incumbent on President Trump to put massive pressure on Britain & Johnson. But it is equally important to recognize that, like the scorpion, it is what Britain does & has done for centuries. It is Britain’s nature.
But no need to drown the scorpion like the tortoise. Just remove the fangs & make the scorpion’s bite relatively harmless. How? In the old British way.
3. Independence for Scotland & Ireland
As we write this article, the Irish people are voting in today’s election in Ireland, “an election that could boost momentum toward an eventual break-up of the UK“, per GZeromedia of the Eurasia group. As they write,
- “That’s because the lasting story of this vote may well be the fast-rising popularity of the Sinn Fein party. Sinn Fein has capitalized on public anger over a healthcare crisis and housing shortage to rapidly expand its popularity in pre-election polls, but it is also now promising Irish voters a referendum on reunification of the Republic of Ireland (an EU member) with Northern Ireland (still part of the UK) within five years.”
We keep wondering whether the Irish people might want to actually join the United States as Americans. After all, America includes both North Carolina & South Carolina; Virginia & West Virginia. So why can’t America include Ireland & North Ireland as two separate states of the American union. After all, the sixty plus million Irish Americans vastly outnumber the Irish in both parts of Ireland.
That brings us to Nicola Sturgeon, the First minister of Scotland & the leader of the Scottish National Party. She wants a referendum for secession of Scotland from the UK & an admission as an independent country into the E.U. As Time Magazine quoted an Edinburgh professor 3 days ago,
- “If [Boris] Johnson thinks love-bombing Scotland will work, he doesn’t understand what happens up here, … There’s a perception that we want to head in a different direction. That divergence isn’t going to stop.”
We think Scotland should think bigger. Why go into an E.U. & become subservient to Brussels when you can join the USA as a free state? Being a part of America could change the fortunes of Scotland in a dramatic manner. American investment would flood into Scotland & US companies would relocate to Scotland. And look what the harbors of Scotland would mean to both Scotland & America?
So let the partitioned England & Boris Johnson suck up to China, a China that is now getting quarantined by even China’s physical neighbors.
America can do better with Scotland & Ireland ideally as states of the American Union but also as independent partners of a new special relationship. If Minister Nicola Sturgeon really wants Scotland’s independence from England, she should seek the assistance of President Trump, man of Scottish descent & also landowner in Scotland.
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