Last updated at 8:25 AM on 1st June 2011
President Obama, safely back in Washington after his European electioneering tour, is entitled to write ‘mission accomplished’ in his diary.
The trip, with all its colour and grandstanding, will help secure him the Democratic renomination for the 2012 presidential election. The visit to Britain represented a high point for his campaign — and a low point, even a disaster, for us.
At a time when the special relationship has been getting the questioning it deserves, it is being restated, glorified and drooled over by the Body Politic.
Special relationship: But the very basis of the bond between the U.S. and the UK derives from a dangerously inaccurate view of history
The very basis of this bond derives from a dangerously inaccurate view of history — which the Queen herself repeated.
Admittedly, any speech by her is provided down to the last comma by the Government.
But she should not have lent herself to shameful errors, such as the comment: ‘Your country twice came to the rescue of the free and democratic world when it was facing military disaster.’ This is a gigantic myth.
There was no voluntary action at all. The Americans joined the struggle for Europe because Hitler, five days after Pearl Harbour, declared war on the U.S. Fact!
In World War I, the Americans came in on our side because Germany had declared for unrestricted U-boat warfare, had attacked US shipping and was secretly intriguing for Mexico to attack the U.S. from the South. Another fact, Ma’am.
The royal twist to history did not end there, though it became more complex. The Queen paid tribute to the ‘generosity’ of the U.S. in making a ‘massive contribution’ to our economic recovery.
America leads, Britain follows: Our supposed unique bond with the U.S. has got us into trouble constantly since Harry Truman was President
The contribution was real, but not inspired by generosity. It was in response to a warning from the Treasury and the State Department that Europe would soon run out of money to buy American imports.
So, bank manager to half the world, the U.S. embarked upon the Marshall aid programme to stimulate a European recovery. It was a good idea and made economic sense for both sides, but was not driven by generosity.
Our supposed unique bond with the U.S. — where the Americans lead and we trot obediently at their side — has got us into constant trouble since 1945, most obviously and recently in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
The Tory Opposition front bench was just as keen as Tony Blair to join in these doomed operations at the call of the U.S..
But for our involvements there we would not have endured, and still be facing, acts of Islamic terrorism. We were cajoled into this danger zone by the U.S., a nation which does not, and probably never will, understand the outside world.
The position we have today is in many ways rather odd. We are emerging from two conflicts which with all the blessings of hindsight, even the slowest of political animals must admit were failures and should never have been launched in the first place.
Nothing could better demonstrate the folly of the special relationship. Yet the Government extols it. Are we really so vain that, when the U.S. President deigns to visit, have a burger or two and stay at Buckingham Palace, we go weak at the knees and promise eternal friendship?
Those with long memories will no doubt say we still owe so much to America because, never forget, it saved us from the Soviet threat after the war. But there was no threat. The Soviet archives, as they are opened up, make the point.
But we allowed ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of the U.S. into the conflict with Moscow. President Harry Truman got it into his head that the Russians were bent on ‘world conquest’.
This revelation came to him, it seems, at the Big Three Potsdam Conference, called when the war in Europe ended. It is hard to see how anyone of a normal mind could find anything in that conference which could possibly justify this conclusion or the subsequent American hysteria about the communist threat.
It was, of course, one of Truman’s strengths that he looked and sounded so normal and decent. In reality, he was a provincial politician out of his depth.
For those looking for more detail, I make my case at greater length in my forthcoming book America And The Imperialism Of Ignorance.
Those who think it inconceivable that we could have been involved unnecessarily in the Cold War should ponder this thought. If we were daft enough to get involved in Afghanistan and Iraq at the U.S. request, what makes you think we were any less prone to folly back in 1945?
Peril of ruffling Pakistan's pride
A danger of entangling ourselves further in American errors lies in the issue of Pakistan — roused by the Nato operations in the country’s border areas.
The danger has been underlined by Henry Kissinger, who says that what the Balkans were to the outbreak of World War I, Pakistan could be to World War III.
Pride at stake: Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan must try harder - yet the last thing the country will want to do is be seen as operating at the American behest
What needs to be understood about the country is that, though its military is prepared to fight the Pakistani Taliban, the last thing it wants is to be seen as operating at the American behest.
Yet when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad last week, the bonehead declared in public that she wants Pakistan to fight harder. What can you do with people like her?
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