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Andrew Roberts ‘Back of the Queue’ op-ed

Posted by John Reed on

A British author has an op-ed in the 6/18/16 Wall Street Journal complaining about Obama’s “back of the queue” remarks to British voters considering voting in favor of exiting the European Union. “Britain and Obama’s ‘Back of the Queue’

I agree with the author’s basic point that it was out of line for Obama to insert himself into British politics, let alone threaten the entire country if they did not vote the way Obama wants (stay in the EU).
However, this guy then recited the “proof” that UK has been such a great ally of the U.S. that it would be totally wrong to disfavor them in trade.
I am a free trader. I think free Americans should be able to buy whatever they want from U.K. and that the U.S. government has not right whatsoever to interfere or punish such buyers.

UK going to protect US in 1941?

Now to the quality of U.K. ally-ness. He cites Churchill declaring war on Japan within the hour of Pearl Harbor. Give me a break. U.K. was very close to being taken over by the Nazis in December 1941. As such, Churchill’s declaration gave us the sleeves off his vest—like a company on the verge of bankruptcy suddenly offering life-time warranties on its products.

Ally in UN-declared wars

Then he says Britain came, “When America was looking for allies in the Korean War.” Say what? The UN Security Council declared war on North Korea. Such declarations must be unanimous among the permanent members of the Council. U.K. has always been a permanent member.
Then he says, “When America decided to liberate Kuwait...[Britain] contributed an armored division...” “America decided?” Desert Storm was another U.N. Security Council Declared war.
He also cites British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as a personal favor to us.
I just researched and wrote a novel in which my alter ego became president of the United States.

The Unelected President novel

That required researching and reflecting on U.S. foreign policy including the reality of our “allies.”

Dead beats

First off, I count only 14 countries on this planet who actually fight in wars—and most of them are the UK or its former colonies. U.K. is our best ally, but that’s grading on the curve. We loaned them money in World War I. They did not pay it back. We loaned them money in World War II. They dd not pay it back. We have a mutual aid treaty with them through NATO.
Do the British sleep better because we will come to their aid in a major war? Absolutely. Do Americans sleep better because U.K. promised to come to our defense if Russia and/or China attack us in an all-out nuclear war? Ha! Are Russia or China deterred by U.K. being our mutual-defense pact ally? Not much if at all.

The last ally we needed was France—in the 1770s

The last time we had an ally who helped us when we needed help was the French in the Revolutionary War. Britain was our enemy in that war and the subsequent War of 1812. France and U.K. were neutral during the Civil War. Britain was nowhere to be seen in the Spanish-American War, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama.
Are there American troops stationed in U.K. now? 9,000. Any British troops stationed in the U.S.? Not enough to mention.
America is the world’s greatest ally. Whoever’s second is so far back I cannot identify them. Donald Trump is right about our allies. They are almost entirely takers and rarely makers of defense. In NATO, all are supposed to spend at least 2% of GDP for defense. Only UK and Poland do. The U.S. spends 3.5%. NATO means “free loaders” in Belgian.
If you go back to 1900, America has been the only ally worth having on this planet for 116 years. I hope UK gets out of the EU. I want both the EU and the euro to disappear. I oppose protectionism for all the usual reasons. I oppose heads of state inserting themselves into the politics of other countries.
But the last damned reason on earth for us to refrain from threatening UK with less-favored trade rules is their declaring war on Japan in December 1941, their participating in UN-declared wars, etc. Give me a break!
In 2008, U.K. generally wanted Obama to win. He did. Then he threw Churchill’s bust out of the White House. Don’t complain to us about your 2008 choice.

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