No Longer Docile: Europe Sours on U.S. Foreign Policy

By Pfaff, William | Commonweal, April 10, 2015 | Go to article overview

No Longer Docile: Europe Sours on U.S. Foreign Policy


Pfaff, William, Commonweal


Britain, Germany, and France are all posting signs of dissent in the West. Last week Barack Obama's White House found two good reasons to angrily criticize the British government, its most faithful and docile ally and client in the post--World War II period. This was perceived by some in the press as evidence of the weakening of that "special relationship" that has prevailed throughout the twentieth century.

The United States has always found this relationship flattering, convenient, and inexpensive, as it was paying next to nothing for services rendered, including Britain's being first in line to dispatch solders on missions primarily of interest to Washington. The exception was Vietnam, when Lyndon Johnson begged in vain for London to commit as little as "a damned company of the Black Watch" so that the war would appear to be an international crusade of democracies against Communism. The British sensibly said no.

The poodle has recently taken to biting its master, a bad sign despite the British press's habit of calling the United States "the UK's most important strategic partner." Master bit back in March when a White House official deplored London's "constant accommodation of China," which has been going on since 2013, when Britain began cultivating Chinese trade and investment. The remark was occasioned by Great Britain's decision to join the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a potential rival to the international financial institutions controlled bv Washington--for example, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Germany, Italy, and France have just announced that thev too will join the AIIB.

Britain, together with nearly all the other major European NATO members except Poland, has also been reproved by Washington for failing to spend more than 2 percent of its GDP on defense. How can NATO frighten Russian President Vladimir Putin into giving up Crimea and eastern Ukraine if it spends only 2 percent of GDP on its armies and navies? Britain's once-robust military is fading, while, for historical reasons, Germany still restricts its military mostly to humanitarian or peacekeeping missions. …

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No Longer Docile: Europe Sours on U.S. Foreign Policy
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