Sunday, August 26, 2007


'Special Relationship' less Important to Brown than Winning Another Term

Styker McGuire, London based Newsweek bureau chief, warns Gordon Brown today that his honeymoon is threatened by a looming decision over involvement in Iraq. According to well informed intelligence, which he cites, it seems we are on the rack in Basra and basically 'losing' the fight. Brown will soon face a major dilemma says McGuire, whether to stay in Iraq and accept the long haul or to watch the 'special relationship' wither and possibly die.

Blair's inner circle thinks Brown's special-relationship balancing act is a ramshackle intellectual construct doomed to failure - or 'tripe', as one of them put it to me. You can't pick and choose when to be close or not close to America, the Blairites would argue.

He goes on to suggest Brownites would have the ready answer that Wilson refused LBJ troops for Vietnam and, it might be added Thatcher refused to write a blank cheque to Ronnie on the alliance either. Seems to me the choice is unlikely to be so stark; Brown will continue to wind down British involvement, while emphasising his pro US credentials as a good ally in Afghanistan, and will just loiter in the background for a while, as he did so often during Blair's time in power.

And if he has to choose between the US alliance and a renewed term in office, I reckon-just as the Germans and the French have done in the past- he'll happily stick up two fingers to the White House. A period when the Americans are forced to recognise the true political value of their European cousins, might in any case prove salutary for them.

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