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The rancid relationship

by RogueTrooper Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:47:12 AM EST

The Guardian's Security Affairs Editor posted this entry to Comment is Free. An interesting anaysisreview piece on the state of Britain and the USA'a relationship.


Meanwhile, Tony Blair agreed that Britain would take the lead in eradicating the opium harvest in Afghanistan, the origin of 90% of British heroin. In his new book, State of War, James Risen quotes a CIA official as saying: "The British were screaming for us to bomb those targets because most of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. But they [the US military] refused." He writes: "The Pentagon feared that counter-narcotics operations would force the military to turn on the very warlords who were aiding the United States against the Taliban and that would lead to another round of violent attacks on American troops."


Mr. Norton Taylor is using James Risen's book State  of War


Risen refers to a meeting between Rumsfeld and Afghan commanders where the message was clear: help fight the Taliban and the US will leave the traffickers alone. British troops are now preparing for a "nation-building" mission to counter insurgents and narcotics in southern Afghanistan. It could take 20 years, according to a leaked Ministry of Defence briefing paper.

What is Washington doing in return for all Blair's help? Bush has blocked a billion-dollar deal with Rolls-Royce to build engines for the proposed joint strike fighter - which Britain wants for its two new aircraft carriers - despite repeated lobbying from Blair. The US still refuses to share advanced military technology with us. It is refusing to let British agencies question terrorist suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged September 11 mastermind; it won't even say where they are being held.


What is ommitted from this part is the fact that a large amount of technical information was transfered from the UK to the US during the development of the JSA.

Display:
I wasn't cynical enough to imagine the 'toleration' of the drug business supplying European allies was so explicit.

The small right-winger in me cries ever louder: Bliar should be put on trial for high treason.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:35:53 AM EST
You know, I think striking a deal with Bolivian coca growers would be appropriate payback.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not Blair that is the main culprit it is Bush. That is not to say that Blair is blameless in all of this, far from it; but he is not the prime actor in all of this.

It is a little know fact that Blair and Bush do not like each other. They never have. Blair is a victim of his own cowardice - he is afraid of the threats that the Bush Administration made regarding the British economy - and Britain's post Suez Crises foreign policy - The whole UK foreign policy apparatus is based upon the premise that the Americans have to be treated as our most important ally.

As regards to despicable acts commited at the behest of the Bush administration.

I would not be surprised if every European country has done things that, when the truth comes out in the wash, will shock their citizenry.

The British have more to be ashamed about that most, however. Blair for what he has done and the rest of us for knowing better and doing nothing.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:23:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Bush and Blair liked each other because they are both oh-so-Christian. But maybe that's just an urban legend?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:39:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hoping for some substantiation of that claim myself, since everything I've read in the last few years indicates that they have quite a close relationship.

That said, I do remember the first time they ever met, after Bush was elected and Blair went to the US for their first set of talks.  At the press conference afterward, they were asked something about how they got along, or whether they liked each other, or something insipid like that.

Bush's response was flippin' amazing.  He said they had discovered that they had a lot in common, like for example they use the same toothpaste.

(Which I think was Crest, but I don't recall for sure.)

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:53:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi'-flyin' diplomacy, man!

A lot of the actual work in summits is done by the underlings, the 'leaders' are only there to schmooze and get their picture taken.

One of my favourite Spanish novels, Corazón tan blanco [A Heart So White], by one of my favourite Spanish writers, Javier Marías, is narrated by a professional interpreter, and there are a couple of hilarious scenes involving interpreting for political leaders.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes! I read it in the German translation, and the scene with the Spanish and German PMs is absolutely rofl-grade hilarious.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí [Tomorrow at the battle think of me] the narrator is a speechwriter for King Juan Carlos, and there is one chapter in which the King reflects aloud on his role as monarch. That was hilarious, too, and apparently earned Marias a caution from the King's House.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:15:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds interesting, I'll look out for that.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As in Corazón tan blanco, this episode has nothing to do with the plot, it's just for Marias to show off.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:25:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's been awhile, but I thought the scene with the heads to state was the start of the narrator's courtship of his wife.

(And my, haven't we hijacked this thread :-) )

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see your point. It's been a while here, too.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I never believed in the Christian thing. First of all because I don't believe either of them is truly sincere. Secondly because there's a world of difference between the born-again Evangelical style of religion Bush claims to have, and Blair's upper-class Anglicanism (he's fairly Anglo-Catholic).

But a legend was no doubt made of it for obvious communications purposes.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:53:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair is beginning to sound messianic, though: "only God and History will judge me on Iraq", and so on.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He likes to play the part. And it's very handy. God stays obstinately silent in these circumstances. (And everybody knows history is there to be rewritten...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair initially said "History" will judge him favorably on Iraq, to the standing ovation of the full U.S. Congress, and replaced Hitory with "God" very recently.

The historicist in him is dead, I presume.  The historicist in me died a long time ago, too when I read Karl Popper. It is truly amazing these neocon revolutionaries are experiencing the same turnaround of mind as we radicals of the 60s did. The difference is they are having the second thought at the age over 50, whilst we had the same revelation as a teenager.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 02:33:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't remember where I read about Bush and Blair's mutual dislike for each other. I know that I read about it after I read these articles by Greg Palast.

This article from The Observer has some usefull information. An interview with Buzzflash was the first tip off that something was amiss with the truth.


PALAST: You're getting warm. The answer is Irwin Stelzer. He is the guy who is a good friend of George Bush from the Hudson Institute, and the most powerful lobbyist in Britain representing British-American interests and, by the way, chief lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch. As soon as Bush seized the White House, Stelzer walked into Blair's office and said ‘we noticed that you were supporting Mr. Gore during the Presidential election' - even though clearly that didn't carry many states. Blair's effective endorsement of Al Gore did not go unnoticed. And there was a price to be paid. Blair was given a list of the things that would befall Britain from military subsidies and equipment, to a reduction of value in the dollar versus the pound, which would destroy England's exportability. And Blair was basically told get in line, stand up and salute or "here's your last cigarette, Tony."

I read this interview just before hostilities in Iraq commenced; and along with Blair 's famous Chicago speech it went a long way to understand why Blair's position regarding the Second war with Iraq.

Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men - Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear. Milosevic took over a substantial, ethnically diverse state, well placed to take advantage of new economic opportunities. His drive for ethnic concentration has left him with something much smaller, a ruined economy and soon a totally ruined military machine.

Blair was in America drumming up support for military intervention in Kosovo. In an attempt to garner support he drew parallels between Milosovic and America's, then, current bogeyman, Saddam Hussien.


Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair was given a list of the things that would befall Britain from military subsidies and equipment, to a reduction of value in the dollar versus the pound, which would destroy England's exportability.

This sounds at least partially fantastic? Reduce the dollar to spite the UK? Doesn't sound likely.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:58:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ordinarily I would agree with you Coleman. It is just that I do not think the Bush Administration are ordinary politicians. However, whether they would actually have done these things or not is less important than the fact that Blair believed that they would.


Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Blair has civil servants to explain this to him. I don't buy it: it's a partial explanation but not near a complete one. This might have been the stick. What was the carrot?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:27:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read that the carrot was that the US would cooperate in really pushing a peace settlement between Israel and Palestine.  Right afterwards, there were indeed talks and Bush mentioned it in a couple of speeches, but Bush dropped it pretty quickly.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've just realised why I never noticed any of this stuff: I was busy getting married at the time. That would explain it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:37:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would too join Colman in normal times, but when it comes to the Bush administration, one should never forget Brad Delong's immortal words:

The Bush administration is not only worse than you imagine even after taking account of the fact that it is worse than you imagine. It is worse than you can conceivably imagine.
by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the first link:
To my knowledge, Stelzer is the only policy adviser who can walk into the Prime Minister's office at will. But now he won't bother.

Stelzer has determined to deliver a nasty little dressing-down to the PM in public and nail George Bush's wish list to Blair's forehead with a rusty tack.

Rather than speak to his friend Tony directly, Stelzer chose the forum of the Times to deliver the word from Bush's team. In his column on 4 January Stelzer wrote, 'Tony Blair has lost two big bets and the British people will have to pay up.'

That would be 4 January 2001. We should be able to dig up the article.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:30:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the same page of Will Hutton's The World We Are In as I quoted the other day:

(Irwin Stelzer) also advises Rupert Murdoch, acting as a key intermediary with the British government: during the negotiations over the relaxation of Britain's media ownership laws in 2001 and early 2002, for example, the ministers concerned were obliged to offer him any access he wanted where he pressed his anti-regulation case. At the heart of the economic, government, media and business establishment he can get away with consistent presentation of unsubstantiated ideology as the truth -- and does so regularly.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Found the Stelzer article from 4 January 2001 in the Google cache here.

It's an incredible piece of bully talk. Because it comes from before 9/11, it sounds unbelievable, but it's just proof that 9/11 changed fuck all.

Here's a sample re the topic of Rogue Trooper's diray:

To add to Blair's woes, Bush has nominated Donald Rumsfeld to be his Secretary of Defence, specifically rejecting his old friend Tom Ridge, the Pennsylvania Governor, because of the latter's lack of enthusiasm for the national missile defence system (NMD) that Bush has promised to deploy at the earliest feasible date. Rumsfeld is a long-time proponent of a missile shield to protect America and any who would shelter from missile attacks from "rogue Governments" such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq, or from a newly hostile Russia.

To put that shield in place, America will need to upgrade radar equipment at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. That means Blair will have to say "yes" or "no" -- "maybe" or "later" won't do. The French, of course, are violently opposed to the plan, as are many other European nations which Blair has been so assiduously courting, some of which are eager to curry favour and contracts with the likes of President Saddam Hussein and Iran's ayatollahs. Bush aims to make Blair choose, and if the Prime Minister thinks he can fob off the allegedly not-so-bright new President and his formidable team of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, with talk of a bridge between America and Europe, he had better think again. America wants an ally, not a bridge.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:44:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the article is not easy to find outside of Google's cache we might want to consider backing it up somewhere.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's astounding. Two sites it was cached from have disappeared.

It could go in the wiki. I'll have a look where.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:26:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the article in The Memory Hole?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google doesn't seem to find it there, and The Memeory Hole doesn't have a search facility.

It's no doubt in the archives at TimesOnline, but you have to subscribe.

I can't get the wiki for the moment (happens at times), but I've backed it up as a .doc on my disk.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:47:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have it backed as a .html, it's not a proprietary format ;-P

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:00:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The full article is in the EuroTribWiki under Britain and also United States in PoliticsAndPolicyByCountry.

Title: Why Blair has got George W so wrong by Irwin Stelzer

Link: Stelzer

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 04:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this system even workable?  I remember when Reagan was funneling billions to his cronies for years to develop it, they finally admitted it was a completely unworkable notion, which is what scientists had been saying all along.

So that's the last I heard.  When W. brought it up in the 2000 debates I was flabbergasted that he was bringing up the discredited Star Wars plan.  I could not believe the media never even mentioned it had been discredited and that the public had seemingly forgotten.  

So... did it get re-credited somehow?  Is there some technology advance that's made the system workable?  Or are we just haggling over where we're building bases and who we're funneling money to for an imaginary future system?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:27:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it did not get re-credited. They faked the results of trials, rigged the tests, and finally decided to claim it worked without any further testing.

It's just an elaborate scam of the national treasury.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for confirming.  It's breathtaking.  Honestly, not a single mention of this should be uttered without noting it's an imaginary/impossible/hypothetical system.  May as well be arguing about where we're going to install our time machines.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:38:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't want America to develop time machines?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:49:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean those machines that will always loop back to the beginning of Bush's first term, giving him each time another go at not screwing up the world?
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:50:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Y'know, I think we have already.  It really feels like 1988 here.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Going for 1984!
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:53:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I almost said that but figured there was no need to sully a great piece of literature by having it confused with memories of the Reagan/Bush era.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:56:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's funny, I remember you saying that already. It's begun. We're screwed.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:54:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now what does that "n/t" stand for by the way, I've seen it used all over the place and have no clue.

Will iron clothes for this info.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It means no text.  It's for people who are only seeing the subject lines.  Now about that ironing!!!!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well since we've been looping for eons, you'll know by now that I'll find some excuse not to do it, you'll protest, and it'll all end in an ugly stand-off with no clothes ironed in the end. So let's just break the cycle now while we can, what do you say?
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice try.  The way I remember that it's gonna happen is that you not only get all my ironing done, but my sewing as well.  No use trying to change the future past, Alex.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:02:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, I remember now. But that was another me from the future past, it wasn't the me from now, I think.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dammit, do you people always want me to go for the easy line?  Where's the nuance anymore?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't do nuance.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you'll find it's spelled nukluance...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:29:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.  We're headed for a weaker pound, anyway.  I don't know how Bush would do this, even if he wanted to.  He doesn't control the money supply.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair could have consulted Brown about this stuff, but I think they hate each other's guts. Or is that another urban legend?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:45:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I get the sense that they do dislike each other, from an ideological standpoint.  But they certainly seem to love each other when they're poking at the Tories.  (British debates are much more fun to watch than the American ones.  Witty little buggers, they are. ;-)  Whether he consulted Brown or not, I can't say.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember reading those, and other things about their dislike of each other way long ago.  I also specifically remember reading that Blair asked Clinton's advice on how he should handle Bush.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]

UK chosen as possible `Star Wars' site

Interceptor missiles could be placed in the UK as part of the US "Star Wars" missile defence system, according to plans revealed by the Pentagon.

The moves are likely to attract more unwelcome attention for prime minister Tony Blair's government over the nature of the transatlantic relationship.

Lt Gen Trey Obering, head of the Missile Defense Agency, disclosed at a military conference in Washington this week that the US had formally selected Britain as possible site for the interceptors in Europe.

(...)

Rumours of secret deals to place interceptors in the UK have been around for some time. In October 2004, Geoff Hoon, then UK defence secretary, told parliament any such decision would "be open to scrutiny and debate in the normal way" but that specific parliamentary approval would not be required.

(...)

The UK would be the "third site" for interceptors after Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Placing interceptors in the UK would raise the risk of Britain itself coming under attack, warns the British American Security Information Council (Basic), an independent defence watchdog.




In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:49:49 AM EST
Airstrip One?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:08:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Trident: we've been conned again (New Statesman)

The government says we need to update our "independent deterrent". Fresh evidence shows, however, that it isn't independent at all. By Dan Plesch  

The independent British nuclear deterrent is a myth - whatever else it may be, it is not independent. That reality, laid bare as never before in US presidential directives published on our website, renders meaningless the government's suggestion that it is time to renew "our" nuclear arsenal.

For decades, American presidents have been authorising US weapons-makers to ship vital bomb components to Britain. George Bush Sr was one of them: in July 1991, for example, he signed a five-year directive ordering the United States department of energy to "produce additional nuclear weapons parts as necessary for transfer to the United Kingdom".

These are the final pieces in a jigsaw which exposes simple facts that British leaders have long known but a generation of Thatcherite consensus has obscured: we cannot and do not make our own nuclear weapons; we are not a true nuclear power; we are mere clients of the US.

(...)

For generations governments have tried to prevent the public knowing how much nuclear weapons kit the UK gets from the US, so that they could sustain the myth that our deterrent was home-made. Now, suddenly, it doesn't matter if the missiles aren't British. Take a step back. Imagine for a moment that France imported its nuclear missiles from China. Who would then believe in French independence?

So, what about independence of operation? Could Britain fire Trident if the US objected? In 1962 the then US defence secretary, Robert McNamara, said that the British nuclear bomber force did not operate independently. Writing in 1980, Air Vice-Marshal Stewart Menaul said it definitely could not be used without US authorisation. Today former naval officers say it would be extremely difficult. The many computer software programs, the fuse, the trigger, the guidance system as well as the missiles are all made in America.

Let us say that Britain wanted to fire Trident and the United States opposed this. What would happen? For one, the entire US navy would be deployed to hunt down Red-White-and-Blue October; it would know roughly where to look, starting from the last position notified to the US and Nato while on normal patrol. Meanwhile, the prime minister would be trying to find a radio that was not jammed, hoping that none of the software had a worm and that the US navy wouldn't shoot the missiles down with either its Aegis anti-missile system or the self-destruct radio signal that is used when missiles are test-fired.

From the moment of a breach with Washington, moreover, every Trident submarine sailing down the Clyde would find a waiting US escort. In months the software would be out of date, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton would fly home, taking much equipment with them, and no spare parts would be available. As Quinlan put it: "We would be in shtook."



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:54:01 AM EST
Remember, [Blair] believes that Britain owes it to the US to remain a member of the nuclear club.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we cannot and do not make our own nuclear weapons; we are not a true nuclear power; we are mere clients of the US.

Oh the mortification. The mighty Empire has been outstripped technically by its former colonies.

I'm sorry - rancid, hollow and duplicitous though the relationship is, the idea that there is actually one less nuclear power than we think somehow does not arouse my ire.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh rancid is a good word, but the relationship has been since the mid 50s.

The ownership of nuclear weapons, indeed of a large military, has always been about Political Egotism. It enables these pathetic fools  to strut the world stage like Britain still meant something never hearing that behind their back, everyone is laughing at them.

Sadly, somewhere in the tiny mind of each and every Prime Minister since Eden (mid-50s folks) the sun has never quite set on The British Empire (gawd bless 'er and all who sail in 'er)and so we must never lose this fantasy of being consequential because then we'd be normal and ordinary (richer and more politically practical too).

Sadly the decision is made and the money will be pissed up an American wall. We'll never quite know what deals were done and quite what arms were twisted. But then again, do either Blair or Brown look like the kind of guys who could resist a charming American accent offering them dreams of visits to the White House, of appearing important and perhaps being third or fourth in line behind others who actually matter more.

Sigh. If only they realised how low this obesciance takes us.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:49:35 AM EST
As if anyone really believed that the US and Britain were equal partners.

Look, I'm an uber-libertarian when it comes to drugs.  If people want to shoot up, more power to'em.  It's ridiculous to bomb poor Afghanis simply because Britons can't put their needles down, just as it's ridiculous to bomb poor Colombians simply because Americans can't put their crack pipes down.

Drugs are a demand-side "problem".  I use quotations, because I don't find drug use to be problematic, even though I'm not a user of illegal drugs.  Everyone has his or her own drug.  I drink coffee and beer, as most Americans do.  I also smoke cigarettes.  Other people smoke marijuana, or take pills, or eat McDonald's.

Why are people so obsessed with policing other people's habits?  Enough, already.  Blair can take his Nazi "drug-warrior-ism," and shove it.  Leave these people the hell alone.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:30:18 PM EST
"Look, I'm an uber-libertarian when it comes to drugs.  If people want to shoot up, more power to'em.  It's ridiculous to bomb poor Afghanis simply because Britons can't put their needles down, just as it's ridiculous to bomb poor Colombians simply because Americans can't put their crack pipes down.

Drugs are a demand-side "problem".  I use quotations, because I don't find drug use to be problematic, "

Amen to that. Just think how terrible it would be if we legalised drugs.

We could tax them, release police  & customs effort onto other crimes. Just like when prohibition ended the lawlessness, gang-warfare and gun-crime associated of drug-trafficking would cease. Civil society would re-establish itself.

No, I'm not saying that drugs are a good thing without major downsides, but neither are cigarrettes and alcohol and we've managed to cope without civilisation in our cities collapsing as a result.

What we cannot cope with is the crime associated with the immense profits crime can make from supplying things that many use but which puritannical idealogues deny us. All our politicians would have to do is admit they've been wrong. Gah, never gonna happen is it ?


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well said, Helen.  I'm, generally, a believer that almost everything is bad for you, if taken in large quantities.  Two alcoholic drinks a night can mean avoiding heart disease.  Five alcoholic drinks a night can mean needing a new liver.  Answer (for politicians to give): "Don't drink five alcoholic beverages every friggin' night, you fools!"

The idea that a drug like marijuana -- the one drug that still hasn't killed anyone to my knowledge -- is more dangerous than alcohol is just laughable.  And, more frustrating, when you talk to well known politicians, as I have had the displeasure of doing on a few occassions -- my aunt and uncle live in DC, so I visit them every now and then -- you find that they know this and agree that the Drug War is stupid.  But no one has the guts to come out and say it, because they know that the other party would blast them off the map.

Carter had it right: Drugs are a medical issue.  You don't solve a drug abuse problem by throwing a defenseless heroine addict into prison where he'll undoubtedly have the stuffing beaten out of him on a daily basis.  The guy who smokes a joint while watching "Saturday Night Live" is not hurting anyone but himself.  In economistspeak, we would say, "Well, he's clearly receiving a higher level of utility from getting high than he's losing from any long-term effects -- if there are long term effects.  He's maximizing.  Leave him alone."

Even conservative economists oppose the Drug War, because they know it's stupid.  One of the best arguments I've ever seen against it was given by a conservative professor of mine who taught me introductory microeconomics.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 09:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I once read a comment to the effect that "no product was ever made safer or cheaper by entrusting its distribution to criminal elements"

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 10:15:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a wise comment it was.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 11:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think either of you were around yet when we had this debate on drug legalization.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 11:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was around, but I didn't catch the debate.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 12:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not much of a debate, drug legalization is not exactly controversial around here.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 12:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've asked this before, but I'll try again -- what happened to the plan Britain floated to purchase the whole crop for medicine?  I wrote about the problem last May and sometime shortly thereafter I read about the purchase plan, but then never heard of it again.  Does anyone know?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:50:21 PM EST
I remember reading that it was ditched by request of Karzai, I think, but I can't find the article so I can't remember why, or even if I am remembering it right.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Metatone, thank you.  I don't even care anymore, I'm just so damned happy someone responded!

Actually, I do care.  If you come across anything will you let me know?  It would seem insane for Karzai to do such a thing, but with all the US meddling, there could be an explanation.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, this is speculation based on random fragments in my memory, but I think he argued giving the various warlords lots of money not to produce opium was likely to result in them buying more guns, kicking down the gates of Kabul and hanging him off a blunt spike...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mmm, but the UK gov would not buy it from the warlords but from the growers themselves, hence shutting out the warlords and cutting the flow of money to them. So I easily see why this proposal would be punted, but for the opposite reason. Or not?
by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's exactly what I was thinking, but I didn't want to beleaguer Metatone.  If unofficial, won't the growers then have to sell the crop to people like the warlords to sell on the black market?  It seems that will be more profitable to them than the other way.  I thought the British deal cut the warlords out of it.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, given that the warlords are the ones with guns, it's hard to see how the growers get to hold on to the money given to them, if the warlords want to take it.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:54:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, depends how much the warlords are running hand to mouth. If you cut them off from their cash supply long enough, they can't pay their thugs, they wither and they die.

Now, how long enough is long enough ? is a question I will leave to other armchair strategerists. I've done enough chair-bound stategery for tonight :>
by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:07:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The flaw in that theory would seem to be that stealing the handout from the growers is a lot quicker cashflow situation than gathering the crop, convoying it through dangerous areas and then selling it to a smuggling gang.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about that.  If the warlords have a black market distribution system in place, then the growers have to approach them for sales because they don't have any other options.  The other way, the growers would get paid by the government and the warlords would, in essence, have to mug each grower in a whole populace to get their hands on the money.  I'm just speculating, but I assume violent criminals and black markets function just about the same everywhere.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See my reply to Francois.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 01:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The warlords don't gather the crop or convoy it or anything such. That's the job of the growers and the traders. Warlords engage in protection racket and, now they are part of the government, they simply levy good old taxes. Much easier on their workforce.
by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:30:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's nice that you and Izzy seem so happy to comment about things you know so much about.

The warlords don't gather the crop or convoy it or anything such

That clearly demonstrates just how much you know about the situation and there's no point in discussing it any further.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 01:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Metatone, I didn't mean to offend you and I'm sorry if I did.  I thought I was discussing, not arguing.  You're right in that I have no direct knowledge of warlords or Afghanistan.  The trouble is, does anyone on the site?  I'm just extrapolating from my knowledge of black markets and thugs, which I do have experience with, but perhaps this is different in some way I can't see.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a start, the warlords are the de-facto state, not an underground smuggler ring.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:24:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that, but I assume (and, again, perhaps I'm wrong) that they are running a black-market distribution system of the opium.  I know of no legal channels they can tap into.  It seems to me that giving the populace under them a legal way to make money would be better than not.  It was my understanding that Britain would buy the crop from the growers, not pay the warlords to not grow it.

If that's the case, would it not be better to keep the crop in legal channels?  Isn't not doing it essentially the same as a sanction against the people?  Say it was any other crop -- should anyone buy it at all?  Because it's always seemed to me that the only way to get rid of corruption at the top is to economically liberate the people underneath them.  Refusing to buy the crop will definitely enrich the warlords, right?  Sure, it would be better if the crop didn't exist, but it does.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Izzy, if they are the de-facto state, in what way are they running a black-market distribution system, and how do you imagine a legal way for the population being worth the paper it is written on?

With the small number of soldiers there, Britain can't go around paying all the farmers, nor keep the warlords from 'taxing' those farmers after they left. You underestimate the power of arms.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then who is distributing the opium and how?  I'm not underestimating arms.  If buying the crop won't help them, then why encourage them to grow other crops?  Won't it then be the same situation?  I just don't believe in sanctions.  Are the people to have no recourse at all while the warlords are in charge?

Anyway, my server is going down in 3 minutes, so I'm off to bed.  Again, I apologize if I offended you or Metatone, but this seems to be a good topic (although I'm tired, so if this last one doesn't make sense, please ignore until tomorrow!)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Metatone,

I'm glad to learn you know a lot about opium trade in Afghanistan.

But, as far as I know about Afghanistan, the opium trade is done in the open with a structure of poppy farmers, opium traders and literally, opium bazaars, market places for the opium gum. They can be found in remote places but also in big cities like Kandahar. And at that level, the warlords were taking their share from the traders for protection and levying export "taxes" on drug convoys to neighbouring countries. But they don't run the trade themselves.

I have indeed seen a couple of reports that some warlords are now moving toward a more integrated structure, Colombian-style, where they handle the collection from the farmers, and more importantly, transformation to base morphine and heroin done in Afghanistan proper. If confirmed, that would be a big change. If you have more information, let us know: I'll be very interested to read about it.

Oh, and by the way:
... there's no point in discussing it any further...
I have a nice tower to sell you:



Perfect place to contemplate this imperfect world. Let me know if you are interested :)
by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 06:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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