Blair-Bush meeting: ritual back-slapping

Too much importance has been placed on the Blair-Bush meeting at Camp David, USA. Both leaders made suitable noises of friendship, Bush mentioned Churchill and called Prime Minister Blair “a charming guy”. Tony Blair smiled and mentioned the “special relationship” which Britain likes to say it enjoys with its ex-colony. This ritual happens whenever there is a change of President in the USA or a change of Prime Minister in the United Kingdom. The real importance of these ritual back-slapping events is seen in the small print in statements issued by the two parties. For those who wished Tony Blair to shop Europe and launch a campaign to join Canada and the USA in a separate Economic Community, the British Prime Minister had a firm answer: “We are not going to give up either relationship. We are going to make both of them work not only for the benefit of the United Kingdom but also for the benefit of the United States and the European Union”. Certainly on the agenda in this meeting was the question of the US Strategic Defence Initiative (a shield against nuclear attack from abroad), which Tony Blair declared some weeks ago in the House of Commons as needing to be “treated very, very carefully” and also the change of strategy to be used concerning Iraq. The British Foreign Office this week stated that common policy change is being discussed between London and Washington, a change which involves a discussion as to the validity of the current policy of sanctions, which harms no-one except the Iraqi people. Basically, these meetings between British Prime Ministers and American Presidents are ritual back-slapping exercises in which both sides pledge eternal friendship on-camera, complete with huge smiles and carefully prepared jokes. The reality is that most British people regard the Americans as “second class citizens”, unable to speak “the Queen’s English” and most Americans regard the UK as some distant island which speaks the same language, but little more. The fact that the world’s press attributes any importance to such meetings means that there is little serious news to report.

JOHN ASHTEAD PRAVDA.RU LONDON