Saturday, July 05, 2003

When the chips are down

With the Yanks planning to put two "Brits" in front of a kangaroo court it may be instructive to see where the obsessive following of every twist and turn of American policy has led Britain. Nowhere. That didn't take long, but even the most hopeful Anglospherists didn't expect anything else.

The morality of the case is fairly clear. These men enlisted in a foreign army, or something damn close - so they really shouldn't complain and neither should their families who are either remarkably liberal for Muslim families or they are simply lying about not knowing what their children are up to. More to the point they left British shores and so went beyond British protection, Her Majesty's Government don't owe these Don Pacificos a thing.

However there is something rather symbolic in all of this. When an American was picked up in Afghanistan he was taken to be tried in an American civilian court with defence lawyers, proper rules of evidence and judges who didn't have to answer to superior officers. Now I can understand drumroll courts for Saudis or Frenchmen, but do they have to do this with us? They could treat our people like they treat the Yank, either send them home to be dealt with by our system or put them in an American civilian court.

The whole point about getting into these stupid adventures in Mussalmen lands was not that it was in our narrowly defined national interest, it plainly was not, but that either (1) America was so culturally close to us (the "Anglosphere") that we should always help each other out or (2) that the world's only superpower would gratefully remember Britain in the future. Now we find our citizens treated like the rest of the world's rabble. On a practical basis I don't really mind, keeping a few potential terrorists out of these Isles is no loss, but it is symbolic.

When the chips are down America forgets us. It happened on steel tarrifs and it's still happening on the continued existence of NORAID. If the Americans won't give us special treatment on the small things then they sure as hell won't go out of their way with anything that actually matters.

This one sided special relationship needs to be ditched, but you knew I'd say that anyway.


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