Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The Great Rift Valley

The Guardian has demonstrated its lack of balance with biased and poorly argued 'reports' on the relationship between Britain and the United States. Their willingness to report on any issue as a source of division between the two Allies is an objective description of current foreign policy; their arguments, projected as the usual truth from the land of media-speak, that these issues are causing friction and could result in rifts between the two Allies smacks of desperation.

In the first article, Blair's government has vowed to take a firmer line on the Kyoto Treaty and this "signalled a tougher British and European stance yesterday against the Bush administration's hostility to the Kyoto treaty" under the headline "UK to take tough line against the US over Kyoto". What was this tough line?

Ahead of Mr Blair's big September speech on climate change - the world's biggest collective challenge, he will say - a minister admitted the time has come for the government "to move from words to delivery" at home. Abroad it must also press Washington "to be more ambitious", he said.

The 'tough line' amounts to gentle economic pressure, the usual Blair soft touch, where he talks the talk, knowing that Russia and the United States have doomed Kyoto. Easy spin for the 'greening of Blair' - not the diplomatic chasm or the ultimate electoral issue that the Grauniad feverishly imagines:

That amounts to confirmation that Labour has not done enough, despite brave words since 1997, and that ahead of likely British elections in the spring it must improve its record and distance itself from the White House.

When the British government lines up with the European Union and condemns the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, this is another rift with Britain siding with Europe against America. If this was so important, one would expect a press release or a speech from the Foreign Office or Number 10. They quote a spokesman that Britain supports Europe, and ignore the recent history of policy on Palestine where the government has tended to talk softly but distance itself from US support for Israel.

The British government, in a rare departure from Washington, positioned itself alongside its European Union partners on the issue. The EU, unlike Washington, is critical of Israeli behaviour in the West Bank and Gaza.

Finally, one week later, the Guardian devotes a whole article to four years of forthcoming conflict. What are the important issues that will divide Bush and Blair's administration over a deeply humiliated Britain, humiliated because of "wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also over issues ranging from climate change and the international criminal court to protectionist American steel tariffs." These are the issues that could end this alliance: Cuba, Syria, missile defence and climate change.

Syria and Cuba reveal clearer differences in approach. Mr Bush's controversial Latin America special envoy, Otto Reich, has been quietly cooking up a "transition strategy" for a post-Castro Cuba, ignoring the fact that President Castro is still very much around.

Threatening behaviour towards Damascus and Havana may be an unsavoury feature of a second Bush term. Meanwhile, further American "war on terror" excesses and its abuses of human rights and judicial processes could prove politically explosive in London.

Mr Bush's refusal to support multilateral arms control and counter-proliferation treaties, particularly dismaying to Britain, would be another ongoing source of friction. There is a high embarrassment factor, too, in his insistence on pursuing "son of Star Wars" missile defences, including upgraded British facilities.

This left-wing wish-list ignores the practical hardnosed objectives of the Blair administration. Where issues divide Britain and the United States, they are downplayed or pursued at European level, where they can do little damage. As for the laughable notion that 'war on terror' excesses coudl prove politically explosive, this may well prove so, but in public demands for more draconian policies if there are terrorist atrocities.

The Left in the United States has proved that its hold on the media is biased and bankrupt, spinning off agendas in which events are reinterpreted to further a political objective. The Guardian is playing the lying game: slotting events into a worldview of US/UK division, hoping that if they say something for long enough, reality will reflect their post-modern truth.

(23.20, 31st August 2004)


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