Not so special

Remind me again what the British get out of the US-UK "special relationship"? Writing in the Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor sets out this disfunctional relationship in all its glory:

  • A senior British military commander says that Donald Rumsfeld should be tried for war crimes.
  • The Brits are still furious that the decision to disband the Iraqi army after the invasion contradicted orders given by British military chiefs to their commanders in the field.
  • Warnings from British officials that the Bush administration had no post-invasion strategy
    went unheaded.
  • The British begged the US to bomb the poppy fields of Afghanistan because most of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. The US refused.
  • Bush has blocked a billion-dollar deal with Rolls-Royce to build engines for the proposed joint strike fighter, despite repeated lobbying from Blair.
  • The US refuses to share advanced military technology with the UK.
  • It refuses to let British agencies question terrorist suspects.
  • The US has a longstanding demand that the US-UK relationship "may entail on occasion the applying of UK resources to the meeting of US requirements" (but not vice versa).
Norton-Taylor asks:
Is it in Britain's national interest to be so closely allied to a US that takes Britain for granted, to an administration that sets up Guantánamo Bay - where the treatment of prisoners led a high-court judge to remark that "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations"?
I think that GitMo is indeed symbolic of the distance between the US and UK: in Britain, we just cannot believe how the US can justify it. Still, despite the ideological chasm on many things, the Brits will continue to play poodle: the US gives us a seat at the table, a seat we wouldn't otherwise have. Of course, the dinner invite has one requirement: you get what you're given. Be quiet and eat!