According to a senior Foreign Office official in 1939, it was better for Britain to become an American dominion than a German Gau. This statement epitomised both Britain’s refusal to compromise, and its future readiness to surrender sovereignty to the USA, rather than share it with Europe. His statement proved accurate, to the extent that in 1966, President De Gaulle even said that Britain had no foreign policy. Why is it, as we shall see, that today Britain has become a subset and instrument of US foreign (=military) strategy? Only history can explain the psychological, political and economic factors that have resulted in the UK becoming a client state of the US …
The French-European Factor
The 100 Years’ War (beginning as a territorial quarrel between competing dynasties, when the English aristocracy still spoke mainly French), ended in 1453 with the English being kicked out of France (they kept only Calais for another 100 years). During the war, England gave up French as its official language, thus providing an impetus to the likes of Chaucer to develop written English. The very anti-Frenchness developing in England actually began to define it as an island nation, incipiently suspicious of a future French-dominated Europe. Indeed, wars were to continue until 1815. In the 16th century, Henry VIII, killer of monks and of two of his six wives, severed links with Rome and declared himself head of the English Church. From then on, England, and later Britain, would do its utmost to counter the dominant forces in Europe, whether Philip II, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler, De Gaulle or, today, European integration. To this we can add Britain’s imperial fear of Russian power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, today we are witnessing a continuation of Benjamin Disraeli’s pro-Turkish and anti-Russian policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly regarding Cyprus and the Annan plan. As Guicciardini wrote, the past illuminates the future, the world has always been the same and the same things return with different colours.
The American Factor
At the end of the Second World War, Britain had no intention of sharing sovereignty with Europe. Although she was fast losing her empire –with US and Soviet encouragement-, she was seeking a new role, as her financial and military power began to diminish. The instinctive suspicion vis-à-vis Europe manifested itself in Britain’s insistence that the Council of Europe end up as an unelected talking-shop rather than as a supranational institution. She refused to participate in the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Defence Community, and then set up a rival organization to the EEC, in the hope of undermining it. In the words of various experts, the Europeans were starting with a broad conception, not lacking in nobility and grandeur, requiring a commitment of principle from the outset. This was inimical to British practice and mental habits. On the contrary, Britain wanted to keep the US to herself, like a jealous lover.
As the US began to take over many of Britain’s world-wide commitments, there were of course problems, such as when the US (and the USSR) insisted that Britain and France pull out of Egypt during the Suez crisis. The British Foreign Secretary even criticised the US for wanting to run the world. Then there were spying scandals: the Burgess, Philby and MacLean affair, when secrets were handed over to the USSR, infuriated the Americans. Nevertheless, such problems have been no more than lovers’ tiffs: every time that Britain has been forced to choose between the EU and the US, she has invariably chosen the latter.
British policy has had enormous implications for Greece and Cyprus until today: when Britain handed Greece over to the US in 1947, for financial reasons, she was able to convince President Truman to export to the beginning of the Cold War to Greece, with well-known disastrous consequences. In this sense, Britain bears the lion’s share of making the Balkans an area of US interests. The only post-war British Prime Minister to reduce dependence on the US and make Europe Britain’s first priority was the Conservative Edward Heath, (who did not allow the US to use Cyprus in the Yom Kippur war), but he lost the elections in 1974, ushering in a divided Labour Party and an era of ever closer co-operation with the US, which has today resulted in Britain being a mere pageboy. Thus, Prime Minister Thatcher allowed the US to bomb Libya from Britain in 1986 (France refused even overflying rights), and even supported America’s shooting down of an Iranian civilian Airbus in 1988.
The American Volte-Face
Because of the US desire to have a strong Europe to combat the perceived Soviet threat during the Cold War, it pressurised Britain to apply for EEC membership in the sixties, with the second objective of using Britain to combat De Gaulle’s aversion to Anglo-Saxon domination. The State Department wrote: “It is important to avoid the impression in Paris and Bonn that we are the principle sponsors of British membership in the Common Market”. De Gaulle, of course, realised the danger and rejected Britain’s applications in 1963 and 1967. He is credited with describing the danger of a “British worm in the apple” and an “American Trojan Horse in Europe”. Events proved him correct.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, however, matters changed dramatically, particularly after the 1992 Maastrict Treaty, when Europe seriously began to threaten the Anglo-Saxon axis, particularly in the economic and defence sphere. Hence the manic Anglo-Saxon effort to make NATO the worldwide instrument of Anglo-US policy. In November 2002, the British Defence Minister said that NATO was and would be the only organisation for the collective defence of Europe, thus thumbing his nose at French and German attempts to create a European army completely independent of NATO. The current arrangement, the ESDI Rapid Reaction Force, is severely constrained by only being able to operate when NATO is not engaged, meaning that the Europeans may only operate if NATO decides not to. The most obvious recent example of Britain’s foreign policy being essentially American is of course the illegal unilateral attack on, and invasion and occupation of Iraq, which served the US’s and Britain’s purpose of dividing the EU.
The Anglo-Saxon Myth
In 1869, a British politician saw America as the agent of Anglo-Saxon domination and predicted “a greater racial conflict from which Saxondom would rise triumphant, with China, Japan, Africa and South America soon falling to the all-conquering Anglo-Saxon, and Italy, Spain, France and Russia becoming pygmies by the side of such people. In 1950, the British Labour Party said: “In every respect we are closer to our kinsmen in Australia and New Zealand on the far side of the world than we are to Europe”, while in 1985, Margaret Thatcher said: “There is a union of mind and purpose between our peoples which is remarkable and which makes our relationship truly a remarkable one”. The former British Prime Minister, Blair, famous for lying to Parliament over the attack on Iraq, once said: “We must accept that there is a significant part of the world that is deeply inimical to all we stand for”. Shortly after the illegal attack on Iraq, the British Ambassador to Greece, Mr. David Madden, addressed an audience of New York College students. In his simplistic speech, he spoke about ‘we, the forces of good’. Although the audience was polite, in conversation afterwards, they were distinctly unimpressed by what came across as the Ambassador’s patronising attitude towards the natives.
Yet the whole farrago is historically based on a racial myth. First, the Scots, Welsh and Irish are certainly more homogenous than the English, who include all the former, plus a few Romans, many Danes, Norwegians and Normans (Franco-Danes), Jews, Africans, Chinese, Indians and, of course, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who destroyed most of England’s Roman heritage in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Even the English language, rich as it is, is to a considerable extent a heavily bastardised form of early Germanic. This latter linguistic element is however the only original claim that the modern Anglo-Saxons can have of togetherness. Add to that, however, the utilitarian philosophy, Protestantism and, above all, economics, and the picture becomes clearer. It was Bismarck who said that the most potent factor in human society was the fact that the British and American peoples spoke the same language. This means today that they speak the same economic and business language, hence the UK’s massive dependence on investment in the US. In this sense, the likes of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, can be seen as honorary Anglo-Saxon mascots.
The Client State
The Anglo-Saxon business mentality is based on economic liberalism and the concomitantly weaker forms of social protection than what exists in most of the EU. In addition, the British are trusted with some sensitive US technology and are allowed to buy into the US market in a way in which the French and Germans are not. Britain is the leading direct foreign investor in the US. But Britain cannot fire cruise missiles without US permission, nor use its US-manufactured weapons. It cannot dare expel the US from its bases on British territory. Britain expelled 2,000 of its own citizens from its Diego Garcia colony at US insistence, when she rented it to the US for defence purposes. Yet it spent billions in ‘rescuing’ 2,000 (white-skinned) British citizens in the Falklands-Malvinas wars, with US help. Britain’s spy-gathering installations depend on the US, as does the whole ECHELON joint spying arrangement, which has its origins in 1947. More recently, most of Britain’s Ministry of Defence’s research arm has been purchased by a US conglomerate, thus leaving much of Britain’s future defence capability in the hands of foreign shareholders.
As regards Greece and Cyprus, when Britain tried to give up its ‘sovereign bases’ in 1974/5, the US ensured that they remained. It is the US which decides on such matters with Britain as a junior PR consultant. The manically pro-American role of ‘New Europe’ (led by Poland), and controlling Cyprus, are two of the Anglo-Saxon axis’ strongest cards in its efforts to promote Turkey’s EU membership and prevent the Franco-German axis and Moscow from acting together. The future may hold some surprises: France is, after all, an independent country (unlike Britain) and could end up pushing, with German, Russian and, probably soon, Italian help, for a more independent core Europe, with the ‘American Trojan Horse’ leading a weaker outer circle of pro-US states. No amount of pseudo-diplomatic terminology such as ‘flexible’, ‘constructive’, ‘pragmatic’, or ‘practical solution’, favoured by English politicians, will convince committed European leaders to follow the extreme path of post-Churchillian rigor mortis that now characterises the death of British independence, to the chagrin of those true Englishman who are following Edward Heath to the grave. Fear of commitment, an aversion to precise Napoleonic texts and seeking protection from America is the order of the day. By jumping into America’s bed so desperately, Britain is fast losing credibility in the EU.