British Fall-Out of WTC Bombings

Michael Keaney Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Sep 14 06:55:03 MDT 2001


Paul Flewers writes:

An added factor in Britain is the election yesterday of Iain Duncan
Smith, a
hard right-winger, as leader of the Conservative Party. An ex-soldier
with a
strong 'bash Johnny Foreigner' bent, he will goad Blair even further to
the
right and into an even harder military position.

=====

There is a report in the Scottish Herald newspaper today impressing upon
readers the strong "internationalist" stance that has marked Blair's
premiership. There is obviously an effort to project an image similar to
that of Thatcher during and after the Falklands/Malvinas fiasco.

There is a long tradition of British pretensions to greatness in the
"special relationship" with the USA, most notably in Thatcher supposedly
giving Dubya's father sufficient backbone in the run-up to the 1991 Gulf
War. There were many in the UK establishment, of course, who DID prepare
the ground for the reception of George Kennan's famous Moscow telegram
in February 1946.

Whatever efforts Blair might be making to influence Dubya, there are
good domestic reasons for him to suppose that standing "shoulder to
shoulder" is politically wise. As Private Eye magazine has reported
recently, certain rightwing US think tanks have been involved in the
rise of Iain Duncan Smith. On 20 August I posted the following to PEN-L:

Way back on 25 May, Mark Jones wrote:

"Norman Tebbit seems to think, along with Margaret Thatcher, that
political salvation for the Tories lies in strengthening the 'Special
Relationship', and prioritising Britain's US connection over Brtiain's
relationship with Europe. But since it is the US itself which is pushing
Britain
further into Europe, it's hard to see why Tebbit etc should be so
stupid;
no-one in Washington, even among the Bush camp, is supporting the
Thatcher
anti-EU line, are they? Since I don't believe Tebbit is stupid, one is
left again with the idea that this is a public sign of a real split
within
the British ruling class, about really-different alternative futures."

There is no question that the punk Thatcherites are being dished from
the centre by the permanent government and its agents in the media. The
destruction of Michael Portillo's candidacy for the Tory leadership
suggests a wider remit to ensure the natural party of government status
of New Labour, as the British state gradually aligns itself towards
European integration, and a parallel reduction of ties with and
dependence on the US. The punk Thatcherite candidate for Tory
leadership, Iain Duncan Smith (protege of Norman Tebbit), has an
interesting travel diary in this regard.

>From Private Eye's HP Sauce column, No. 1034, 10-23 August 2001.

Although the great British public may not be taking much interest in the
Tory leadership election -- except for purposes of amusement -- the
contest is being observed very closely indeed by the Bush administration
and its hangers-on in right-wing American think-tanks.

The conservatives who now rule the roost in Washington make no secret of
their support for Iain Duncan Smith. He may be a little-known figure
over here, but he has become something of a hero to the American right,
and is a regular on the US conference circuit alongside hardliners such
as Benjamin Netanyahu and Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle.

Last summer the American Enterprise Institute paid for him to attend the
"AEI World Forum 2000" in Beaver Creek, Colorado; in February this year
he spoke at a conference in Washington organised by the New Atlantic
Initiative on the theme: "Intractable Conflicts, How Democracies Deal
with Terrorists, and Other Challenges for the New Administration". His
travel and accommodation costs were paid by another right-wing think
tank, the Heritage Foundation.

It is no coincidence that Bush's hawkish defence secretary Donald
Rumsfeld had a meeting with Duncan Smith in Washington well before he
got round to seeing the actual British defence secretary, Geoff Hoon.
After his chat with Rumsfeld, Duncan Smith congratulated the new
administration on "waking up to the fact that what they have facing them
is not about military capability, but about politics. It defines itself
by being in opposition to America, and that is a matter of grave concern
here."

Duncan Smith's diatribes against the European Union have also made him
many friends across the Atlantic, and he was even invited to testify
before the House of Representatives committee on international relations
in 1999, and duly seized the chance to propose that Britain and America
must stand shoulder to shoulder against the wily, over-regulated,
welfare-dependent Europeans.

He has also shown a respectful interest in the campaign by conservative
US congressmen to persuade Britain that it would be better off in Nafta
than in the EU. And, during his four-day trip to Washington in February,
he argued passionately that European governments should all support
President Bush's loopy missile defence project.

Can an invitation to the White House be far behind?

=====

Blair may feel that he must try to deprive Duncan Smith of any possible
leverage with the US, whose power elite is as split over the role of
Britain as it is over Larry Summers-type economic globalism versus the
economic regionalism of Dubya (Monroe Doctrine revived as FTAA).

Michael Keaney

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