Saturday, March 09, 2002

Steeling for a fight

OK, bad joke. A bit like the steel tarrif.

Anyway, the steel tarrifs have ignited the fury of Nick Denton (and here, here, here, here, here and here; I forgot, here as well). Well he's worked up about it.

Where's the outrage, he asks.

In fact this post started as an e-mail to him about the outrage, or lack of it. But once again from my terribly obsessive viewpoint, I was going to go into the British foreign policy angle.

Now the steel tarrif itself has little bearing on Britain, we export a miniscule amount and we will benefit when all this steel that can't be sold to the US comes on our market. However, it does illustrate the central fallacy of British foreign policy - that if we stay slavishly loyal to America, they will look after us when the time comes. Well, in a way the time did come, and British steel was tarrifed like everyone else. But I repeat myself, I've said this already.

However some comment on this from the British "blogging" community, which is overwhelmingly pro American Natalie Solent records others reactions, although not sure of her own apart from outrage at Bush's departure from the Holy Orthodoxy of Free Trade (HOFT). Any way she does predict outrage on my behalf, not realising I don't do outrage. Detached cynicism is my affection.

And the other Anglosphere believers, what do they say on this? Now Samizdata haven't been silent on the breach of HOFT, but the British angle is curiously omited. What does this tell us about the Anglo American relationship? How, if it all should Britain react? For a British blog they seem far more comfortable commenting on American rather than British issues?

The two transplanted Anglo-Americans - Andrew Dodge and Iain Murray - who write web logs, register their disapproval. Andrew Dodge, an American in London, says that British steel workers are right to be up in arms, but little more on what we should do. Shelter them? Retalliate for them? Just sit on our hands? And from Iain Murray, a Brit in Washington, we get just a hawk, spit. Public Interest links to an article by Michael Brown, who used to be a Tory MP for a steel town, which defends this decision. It's all the EU's fault, he says. A quote:

Last year, in a prescient book, Stars and Strife, the former Tory cabinet minister John Redwood warned of the coming trade wars between Europe and the US, predicting that the list of disputes would grow – in spite of World Trade Organisation negotiations. Britain, he forecast, would often be caught in the crossfire, and he suggested that we would, sooner or later, begin to appreciate the benefits of a direct bilateral trade relationship with the North Atlantic Free Trade Area (Nafta).

I only did that because I like it when someone says something nice about John Redwood.

Any way the best quote comes from the Left. Larry Elliot of the Guardian, who in an otherwise so-so article comes out with this:

If Mr Lamy has every reason to feel let down, then so too does Tony Blair, who has found that providing full-throated backing for the US in its fight against terrorism counts for nothing when set against the interests of powerful vested interests in America. The prime minister is like the faithful family retainer who, after years of service, asks for a day off to see a sick relative, and is greeted with utter disdain.

Not a great metaphor, but it somehow captures the spirit.

Any way there is an honourable mention among British bloggers, and that must go to the new boy Iain Dale who actually deals with the issue of the British reaction to all of this:

Nice when your closest ally kicks you in the teeth isn't it?

Any other commentary from a British point of view, please put it in the comments section.


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