David Cameron: don't obsess about US-UK special relationship

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Neil, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    Prime minister says Britain can no longer rely on 60-year-old version of special relationship

    David Cameron begins two days of talks with Barack Obama and senior US administration officials in Washington today, saying he is frustrated by Britain's preoccupation with the health of the "special relationship".

    He urges everyone to stop taking the relationship's pulse every second, and recognise that in a modern world Britain and the US will search the globe for a variety of alliances.

    His remarks, in an article in the Wall Street Journal, represent the most considered account of his view of the relationship, and are designed to frame a more mature alliance in which Britain recognises it can no longer rely solely on a 60-year-old version of the relationship.

    Cameron says he has "never understood the British anxiety about whether the special relationship will survive. The US-UK relationship is strong, because it delivers for both of us. The alliance is not sustained by historical ties or blind loyalty. This is a partnership of choice that serves our national interests today." He faces potentially difficult talks on issues such as Afghanistan, and the global economy, including trade and the role of BP in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

    Cameron privately believes that the Brown government became obsessed with the symbols of the relationship, and he wants instead to form a special relationship with India, a country he will visit with five other cabinet ministers and a host of business leaders next week.

    In a break with Foreign Office practice, Cameron says he disagrees with the US on trade with China. He is due to meet Obama in the White House today, as well as meeting congressional leaders and Pentagon officials. The prime minister claims to see three different sets of misguided analysts ceaselessly fretting over the special relationship: "Those who question the whole concept; those who say it is no longer special; and those fixated on form rather than substance." The anti-American school is "plain wrong", in that America is a force for good, fighting terrorism, seeking peace in the Middle East, and championing the struggle against climate change.

    Those who claim the relationship is no longer special due to Britain's inability to bring enough to the table, according to Cameron, ignore the strength of Britain's international relations, the reputation of its armed forces, and the co-operation between the two states' intelligence agencies. He reserves his strongest condemnation for those who "over-analyse the relationship's atmospherics", forensically compute the length of the meetings "whether it is a brush-by or a full bilateral", the number of mentions in a president's speech, the location and grandeur of the press conference, and whether the two leaders stand up or even sit down together. "This sort of Kremlinology might have had its place in interpreting our relations with Moscow during the cold war. It is absurd to apply it to our oldest and staunchest ally."

    Britain should recognise it is the junior partner, he says, but behave as a country clear and strong in its values. It should recognise the US is strengthening its ties with rising powers, and do the same. "To do so is both pro-American and pro-British because it is the only way we will maintain our influence," he says.

    The prime minister had no differences with the US over the release, by the Scottish executive, of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing: "I never saw the case for releasing him, and I think it was a very bad decision."

    Last night the PM was forced to reject a request for a meeting with a concerned group of senators, blaming the tight schedule of the two-day tour, which will also take in a meeting with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in New York.

    He will try to play down the BP issue, to prevent limitless compensation claims piling on the firm. But in a sign of the anxiety at the performance of Obama in some Tory circles, the former cabinet minister John Redwood wrote in his blog: "Mr Obama has declared war on BP, and sought to represent this global company as some kind of British destructive force in the USA. The president is getting a reputation for being anti business, and seems to like having a foreign business whipping boy. His interventions have not helped control the leak or deal with the disaster."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/20/david-cameron-us-special-relationship
     
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  3. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    Afghanistan withdrawal possible from 2011, says Cameron

    The withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan could start as early as next year, David Cameron has said.

    US president Barack Obama has talked about beginning the pull-out of American soldiers from July 2011.

    The prime minister told the BBC the same could be expected of UK forces "based on conditions on the ground".

    But former head of the Army Gen Sir Mike Jackson said he was "wary" about setting dates, and a plan to transfer power "does not equal reality".

    Shadow international development secretary Douglas Alexander told the BBC the British government had got itself into "a terrible muddle of mixed messages".

    Mr Cameron was speaking in Washington, where he discussed the Afghan war with President Obama.

    A major conference in Afghanistan on Tuesday backed a plan that would see Afghan forces lead security operations across the country by 2014.

    In an exclusive interview with BBC Radio 5 live's chief political correspondent John Pienaar, Mr Cameron was asked whether people could expect British forces to follow the Americans in starting to pull out of Afghanistan from next year.

    The prime minister said: "Yes we can, but it should be based on the conditions on the ground. The faster we can transition districts and provinces to Afghan control, clearly the faster that some forces can be brought home.

    "I don't want to raise expectations about that because that transition should be based on how well the security situation is progressing.

    He added: "What I have said is, people in Britain should understand we're not going to be there in five years' time, in 2015, with combat troops or large numbers because I think it's important to give people an end date by which we won't be continuing in that way.

    "But I hope that with the strategy that we have - the build-up of the Afghan army, the transitioning of districts and provinces, as the president said - it will be possible to bring some troops home."

    Taking his first Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the removal of British troops in a combat role by 2015 was "consistent" with the timetable for Afghan forces assuming responsibility for security.

    "No timetable can be chiselled in stone but we are absolutely determined - given how long we have been in Afghanistan, given that we are six months into an 18-month military strategy, embarking on a new political strategy - that we must be out in a combat role by 2015," he said.

    Considerable concern
    Former Army chief Sir Mike refused to say whether he felt Mr Cameron's 2015 target was achievable, but he acknowledged that it was "ambitious".

    "The important thing for me is that a plan does not equal reality. If the conditions are not going the way of the plan, we need to keep that in mind," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

    "There could be an element of hostage to fortune in being too pedantic about the date. I have always been wary about dates. We seek a set of conditions on the ground."

    Sir Mike said it was "always a considerable concern" that setting a date would simply encourage the Taliban to hold out until then to resurge.

    He said that power could only be transferred to Afghans when they were able to maintain their own security, adding: "I don't think anybody would contemplate ceasing international military operations unless that very clear condition has been met."

    BBC deputy political editor James Landale, who is travelling with the prime minister, says Mr Cameron has already set deadlines of 2014 for Afghan forces to take charge of security and 2015 for the withdrawal of combat troops.

    Now, says our correspondent, he has gone further by giving a possible date for British forces to start coming home.

    Labour's Mr Alexander told the BBC the government was sending "mixed messages" on an issue "that was of vital importance to service personnel's families here, but also the message that we send to the Taliban".

    "When you go to Afghanistan, they tell you that the Taliban say 'our enemies have watches, but we have time'.

    "And if we are sending a signal that regardless of any conditions on the ground, there will be a withdrawal of British troops from a combat role, that does represent a change of policy from what was previously the position, which was to say that we should have a conditions-based approach," he said.

    But in a later interview with James Landale, Mr Cameron said the possible pull-out was "no change in policy at all".

    He said it was too early to start talking about numbers, but the situation would be discussed at the Nato summit in Lisbon in November.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10708063
     
  4. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    looks like David Cameron loves giving nightmares to US.....this relationship is certainly in troubled waters....
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Any international relationship is a two way street.Present behavior or of UK PM David Cameron is direct result of snubbing of former british PM Gordon Brown last year.There has been chill in the relations of USA-UK.USA by pursuing its G-2 policy last year annoyed and snubbed many of its allies like uk EU Japan,israel.The height of which was in nov 2099 when it gave china the mandate in south asia which angered new delhi.Last year obama admin was on speer of snubbing most of its allies in order to appease china but by the end of 2009 during obama's trip to china in nov he himself got snubbed by china and again obama snubbed by BRIC at Copenhagen climate change summit.So its time for all other countries to pay him back.Revenge is a dish best served cold.:happy_2:
     
  6. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    dont know what Obama and his administration are trying to prove to the world...??they are forgetting their allies and started to handshake with foes....if this continues than it wont be long before Obama shakes hands with mullah omar.....
     

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