February 15, 2006


A close ally, but no influence (Richard Norton-Taylor, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

The Pentagon review has significant political, military, financial and even legal implications for Britain, analysts have told the Guardian. It assumes Britain will be closely tied to the US without any influence on its military strategy, they say, while the UK and its European allies are left with the burden of peacekeeping.

The US could in future be a "more comfortable partner" for Britain, says Colonel Christopher Langton of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, if it means there will be greater emphasis on "preventive threats rather than a heavy footprint". But this is only a part of the picture painted by the Pentagon. British military chiefs, MI5 and MI6 have never liked the idea of a war on terror. Now, they say, the concept of a long war gives a spurious legitimacy to international terrorists.

The Pentagon makes clear the US will rely less and less on "static" alliances such as Nato. "We would by implication be part of any coalition of the willing in any part of the world," Col Langton says.

Amyas Godfrey of the Royal United Services Institute says Britain will be "the biggest partner" in this enterprise. "If we want a say in international affairs we need to be part of it." He compares a close partnership with the US in the long war with Britain's status as a nuclear power in the cold war.

But Britain would be an increasingly junior partner, analysts suggest. Col Langton says: "The UK has to assume it will be piggy backing."

The relationship between America and Britain has never been closer, and George Bush demonstrated his regard for Tony Blair (and Colin Powell) by acceeding to their request to try to use the threat of WMD to get the UN to endorse regime change in Iraq, but when it looked like Mr. Blair might do himself real damage at home if he joined in the war, Mr. Bush told him to feel free to bail out because we were fine going without them. Mr. Blair was reportedly stunned not so much by the magnanimity of the gesture as by the recognition of Britain's ultimate insignificance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2006 8:12 AM

Any sources available for that Bush/Blair conversation?

Posted by: Genecis at February 15, 2006 9:53 AM

Woodward reported the offer:


Others, I think James Naughtie in Accidental American for one, have reported Blair's reaction.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2006 10:16 AM

until the brits get serious about controlling homegrown islamic terrorists, they will just have to stay at the kid's table, and miss all the fun. it's not like they have much in the way of value, to contribute anyway. sad to see them slip into french like ignomy, still, it was their choice and they made it in 1945.

Posted by: toe at February 15, 2006 11:59 AM

"demonstrated his regard for Tony Blair (and Colin Powell) by acceeding to their request to try to use the threat of WMD to get the UN to endorse regime change in Iraq"

Lying is the least you can do for friends. Hope they will return the favor.

Posted by: h-man at February 15, 2006 12:22 PM

What choices do the Brits have? With America, they are the junior partner; with the EU, they are ignored by the French when decisions are made. Take your pick.

Posted by: ic at February 15, 2006 3:01 PM

they could choose to stop being socialists, and rejoin the land of the living.

Posted by: toe at February 15, 2006 6:20 PM

No, they can't. They're dependents.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2006 6:24 PM