Bush did his best to love the new British prime minister when they met this week, as much as he loved Our Tony. But will there be a change of policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur….?
George W. Bush once remarked that he and Tony Blair shared many things in common – “We share the same toothpaste”, said Bush, giggling like the overgrown frat boy he is.
Aside from the question: Was Bush insinuating that he and Tony had…you know…woken up together after falling asleep over the diplomatic pillow talk? –it was true Blair was good for Bush, they had a rapport.
Tony was able to articulate a policy of international intervention. Blair had had the practice – he was one of the biggest influences on Clinton bombing Serbia over Kosovo, just as he was an influence on Clinton’s bombing of Sudan in 1998. Monika Lewinski was the other.
When Bush came to power he just wanted to forget all that international, peace making, nation building stuff – having to know the name of the president of Pakistan was just too boring.
And then the world – or the Islamo-lunatic part of it – came to America on 9/11. After that, Bush had no choice but to get his school boy atlas out – “Where the hell is Pakistan, anyway?”
So Blair could tell him all about that stuff. How it was right and proper to, you know, do the ‘right thing’, which meant, in practice, smashing up national sovereignty and, ‘you know, bombing people to liberate them…’.
Blair was the bleeding hearted liberal wing of the neocons. A lib-con.
Different toothpaste, same old shit?
But what of our Gordon? Bush gave Brown lavish praise (not reciprocated), but said, after the meeting with the new British PM after a pow-wow at Camp David, that he and the Scot, ‘Didn’t use the same toothpaste’.
What could this mean? Was this code for an ideological split between the US and UK? Was the ‘special relationship’ not so special anymore? Is Brown so different from Blair?
For those of you in America who might not have a clue who this Gordon Brown is, he was the finance minister for Blair’s government ever since the ‘New Labour’ (read Clinton’s New Democrats) came to power in 1997. He has been a supporter of all that Blair has done on the international stage – including the Balkans, the ‘war on terror’, Iraq, Afghanistan…
But many in Britain – certainly many in the ‘Old Labour’ wing (a sad, isolated rump) of the New Labour party, hoped that Brown was secretly a traditionalist – not a socialist, but at least closer to the left wing roots of the party, the trade unions, the radicals, than Tony Blair – who always despised the old Labour, socialist past. He just wanted to win elections. Tony just wanted to be a Labour version of Margaret Thatcher.
Brown supported the Iraq war, but he is certainly in more of a hurry to get the hell out of there than Blair was. Brown has hinted that he wants to start pulling out troops at the end of this year (not that it will change the perception of the British people, or the Iraqis, about the ruin that they will leave behind). This is not too good for Bush, as he knows that the Democrats at home are thinking like Gordon Brown – they want the boys home, too (after, like Brown, supporting the invasion and occupation in the first place).
So will Brown take the British government away from Blair’s interventionist stance? Nope, nope, nope.
.In a speech at the United Nations after he left Bush, and his toothpaste, back at Camp David, Brown said this:
"Today is decision day for the United Nations to send an African Union and United Nations force of 20,000, to call on the government of Sudan for a ceasefire…Following my meeting with President Bush, the UK and the French have now, with US support, agreed and tabled a UN Security Council resolution that will mandate the deployment of the world's largest peacekeeping operation to protect the citizens of Darfur. And I hope this plan will be adopted later today.
"Immediately we will work hard to deploy this force quickly. And the plan for Darfur from now on is to achieve a ceasefire, including an end to aerial bombings of civilians, drive forward peace talks starting in Tanzania this weekend, and, as peace is established, offer to and begin to invest in recovery and reconstruction."
And what has the new British PM to say about Iran?
"On Iran, we're in agreement that sanctions are working and the next stage we are ready to move towards is to toughen the sanctions with a further U.N. resolution," [Brown told a joint news conference with Bush at Camp David].
So once again we are about to go down the same old roads. Sanctions in the belief that this will weaken the will of Tehran – and further militarism to solve civil wars.
Brown is also going to push Bush on seeming to be more onside about climate change and Kyoto, and he will want Bush to pay more attention to Israel/Palestine and the two (well, one and a half) state ‘solution’.
But don’t you lefties over that side of the pond get too excited that Brown is going to be anything too different from Blair. He ain’t. He might want to see a Democrat in the White House, and he might use different toothpaste to George, but both US and UK will still be working hard to ‘sort out’ Africa and the Middle East. The new interventionist imperialists don’t need to use the same toothpaste.