The USA and the special relationship

New York

I’ve spent a lot of time in the States. New York, Chicago and Stamford, Connecticut were all regular stop overs for a number of years and  I spent a great three weeks ‘off Broadway’ with one of my plays. I’ve friends, ex colleagues, family in the States. A personal special relationship. And this is probably true for many of us. So it’s painful to see what is going on there now, painful to see the White House become a centre for racism, homophobia, mysogyny, deceit, ignorance and narcissism. I could go on. The issue which is exercising me today though is not about the general disbelief and despair about the character of the new administration, or even about personal feelings of regret. It’s about national relationships.

Friends and Allies

The USA has long been our closest ally, the dominant figure in the western liberal world. Its presidents are feted when they visit, we bend over backwards to accommodate their policies. Often too much so. We have an emotional bond to them which has diverted attention from our allies closer to home with whom we are often truculent, prone to squabbling, and suspicious. Nonetheless, we have built up overall alliances which have largely kept the peace or at least prevented escalation into large scale conflicts, and which have kept some kind of control over the territorial and other ambitions of an aggressive Russian president. Now we find that the US administration is pandering to Putin, may well have been elected with his help, and appears to want to weaken Western Europe. All of this runs counter to our needs in the UK. It seems to me that, far from state visits and the like, we should be distancing ourselves from the USA for as long as the current administration is in office. An ally which seeks to undermine all our national interests is not an ally.


What does this mean for Europe and our relationship with Europe? It means we need to get closer, not further away. The Brexit vote was always a calamity but that almost ceases to be relevant. the world has changed. We need Europe more than ever. To leave the EU now and weaken ourselves and the rest of Europe against threats from Russia with the US supporting rather then resisting would be madness. I have always felt that a referendum of dubious constitutional validity, with a narrow margin based on a campaign of lies, was very shaky ground on which to build a future. Now all that almost falls away. Even if you disagree with all that, we are now in a new and dangerous place. Why are our government cosying up to people who are undermining us?

Tony Earnshaw

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