Monday, October 18, 2004
Pension Missiles

Like pensions, the decision to deploy of missiles at Fylingdales has been postponed until after the general election. The Labour government wishes to avoid reinforcing the perception of following America's lead. Such actions resurrect the slithering toves of the Cold War peace movement:

Reports over the weekend suggested that the Pentagon had asked Britain for permission to site interceptor missiles at the American-run early warning station at Fylingdales, North Yorkshire.

The government has tried to pour cold water on the story, but there is nevertheless a potentially damaging row looming over the possibility that a deal on the missiles could have been agreed between the two countries, without anyone outside a privileged inner circle being any the wiser.

If such a move had been permitted, there would be dark echoes of the Greenham Common days, when peace camps were set up outside the Berkshire USAF base to protest about the siting of cruise missiles on English soil.

The Cold War has come and gone ... but still America feels the need to rein in its allies for their assistance in helping to defend The 50 States.

This story sits uneasily with the assertions of Christopher Booker and Richard North this weekend that the special relationship was in danger, due to the increasing integration of European defence. The Fylingdales episode indicates that the Blair government still straddles the fence, aiming to act as a bridge between Europe and the United States.

The objective is the same but Blair has switched allies in Europe. At first, Blair attempted to reach his goals with the co-operation of Germany and France. The Iraqi War put an end to those hopes. Now, Blair has realised that a pro-American grouping may hold a majority or a blocking vote in European structures, and hopes to unify this loose collective under British leadership. This would explain his enthusiasm for the European Constitution, and his warnings against a 'hard core' integrationist avant-garde.

If the French understand that they may have to subordinate their foreign policy to an Atlanticist majority, this may prove an additional incentive towards the delinking and integration of the Rhineland quartet. The divisions over Iraq are proving longer-lasting than we anticipated.

(23.07, 18th October 2004)


Post a Comment

Blog Archive