Sunday, 24 April 2016

Another Country

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.

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.


  1. P. Hitchens writes: "Washington came close to scuppering our recapture of the F alklands in 1982.""

    That was the last time a British Government stood up to America.

    And the last war we fought for British subjects, rather than American interests.

    1. Just wait for Clinton in the White House and Corbyn in Downing Street. We'll be no satrapy then.