Monday, April 13, 2015
U.S. & U.K. - Is It Over?
American historians have noted that U.S. support for Britain retaining Malaysia after the war went against Roosevelt’s Atlantic Charter but was undertaken because of the recognized threat of communist expansion. The U.S. sent arms and intervened to urge Thailand to support the British-led war in Malaysia (Thailand was then on friendlier terms with America than Britain as Britain had declared war on Thailand in World War II whereas the United States had not). There were also considerable loans and grants from the U.S. to the U.K. to help the country recover economically. As part of the “Program of Assistance for the General Area of China” the U.S. sent $5 million to the Malay states specifically to aid in fending off the communist threat. But, American support for the British empire in opposition to communist insurgencies or independence movements was undercut by the lack of real resolve in Britain itself to maintain the empire. Anti-colonialism was the popular thing and the mostly left-of-center governments in both Britain and America did not want to be seen as fighting to uphold colonialism. When the Suez Crisis came, the United States backed Egyptian independence rather than Britain and France, a move that President Eisenhower would later admit was the biggest mistake of his administration.
To some extent though, going over such details is rather pointless as the democratic nature of both the U.S. and U.K. means that almost nothing these days is considered “national” policy but rather “government” policy with factions on each side shifting according to their own interests with no clear consensus on what is in the national interest. New administrations take different positions, some American presidents being more pro-British, others noticeably less so and the same for British prime ministers, with some being very supportive of the U.S. and others less so. There is also no lock-step unity, despite the democratic process, between governments and the public. Britain, which in social and economic policies tends to be much further to the left than the United States, has tended to dislike Republican administrations and favor Democrats. President George W. Bush was widely despised in Britain and the election of Barack Obama was cheered, in spite of the fact that, in America at least, Bush seemed almost gushingly pro-British and Obama noticeably cold if not borderlined antagonistic towards Britain.
Before late last year I would have said that the “special relationship” should be preserved and strengthened as part of my desire for overall greater solidarity throughout the English-speaking world, among all the countries of the former British Empire. Today, however, I am more hesitant on the subject and have been reflecting a great deal on whether Anglo-American friendship is something worth pursuing. The British public, from what I have seen, seems to oppose it and the American public does not see where it has been of any benefit. Most, in my experience, would prefer it to continue but would not consider it a great loss if it did not. Both sides of the American political spectrum have their criticisms of Great Britain (the Democrats for what Britain used to be and the Republicans for what Britain has become) just as there is no shortage of criticism from Britain about America, seemingly no matter which party is in power, no matter if the subject is past or present. It is part of an overall questioning I have had about the attitude of the United States towards monarchies around the world.
Personally, I prefer friendship and goodwill, I look forward to royal visits to the United States by British monarchs and other family members but if that goodwill does not genuinely exist, I would have to set my own preferences aside for the good of the monarchist cause. If the United States abandoned the monarchies of Europe protected by NATO, it would certainly make for better Russo-American relations and if the United States dropped its alliance with Japan, Sino-American relations would improve dramatically. Likewise, if the U.S. refused to lend any further support to the monarchies of the Middle East, Obama would have a much easier time achieving his goal of restoring relations with Iran. Would all of that be good for the cause of monarchy in the world? I don’t see how, but as so many seem to think it somehow would, I must consider that I may be the one in the wrong. Should the “special relationship” continue? At this point, I want to say “yes” but am increasingly at a loss for a way to justify it.