Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Malign legacy: Bush's destruction of the "special relationship" between the U.S. and the U.K.

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Our must-read of the day comes from yesterday's Independent (U.K.), which commented on President Bush's meeting with Prime Minister Brown on Monday. They talked up the "special relationship" between the U.S. and the U.K., but:

[P]erhaps Mr Bush's most significant legacy, as far as Britain is concerned, will be the destruction of the instinctive trust of America and its leaders that once prevailed here. It is no exaggeration to say that Mr Bush has done more damage to relations between our two nations than any president in living memory. This rupture is not an accident of circumstance; there are no impersonal forces of history to blame. This sorry state of affairs is the consequence of the actions of a single leader and his small coterie of advisers.

America's invasion of Iraq must, of course, be recorded at the top of the charge sheet. In 2002, Tony Blair announced that he was prepared to pay "the blood price" for the sake of the special relationship. But it was not the then prime minister who paid it. That fate has, instead, fallen to 176 British troops who have lost their lives in Iraq.

Yet President's Bush's malign legacy is about much more than Iraq. Relations have been soured by the prolonged jailing of innocent Britons in Guantanamo Bay, the suspected use of Britain as a stopover point for CIA torture flights and a hopelessly one-sided extradition treaty. President Bush has even helped to undermine the peace dividend from the end of the Cold War. He has antagonised Russia by pushing America's missile defence shield project, an outpost of which is to be situated on British territory.

And that -- as bad as it is -- just skims the surface of what has been a truly malignant presidency.

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