Busted

by zunguzungu

As The Guardian writes, one of the wikileaks cables gives us a picture of how, before the UK election (that brought the conservatives to power):

Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election to promise [the US ambassador] that they would run a “pro-American regime” and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year.

“More arms” doesn’t quite cover it, though. Along with a ton of hilarious American sneering at the Brits for being subservient, the cable-dump makes it clear how structurally linked the issue of “procurement” is to the larger question of US-UK military cooperation, how what’s really at stake is the underlying question of UK/US military joined-at-the-hip-ism (which is why we coordinate our military purchasing: to maintain systemic compatibility. You can’t spell “procurement” without “interoperability”):

During a December 9 meeting with the Ambassador, Shadow Secretary of State for Defense Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the U.S. if the Conservative Party wins power in next year’s general election. He highlighted the importance of the U.S.-UK Defense Trade and Cooperation Treaty insofar as it advances the goal of U.S.-UK interoperability. The Treaty “means a lot to us,” Fox emphasized, adding that “we (conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement.”

and

“the relationship will be especially close in the defense sphere under Tory leadership, Fox stated. He affirmed his desire to increase joint defense procurement with the United States. Increasing U.S.-UK “interoperability is the key” since the U.S. and UK will continue to fight together in the future.”

and

[Fox emphasized] “we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement. The key is interoperability.” Fox asserted that some within the Conservative Party are less enthusiastic, asserting that “we’re supposed to be partners with, not supplicants to, the United States.” Fox said he rebuffed these assertions…

The “special relationship,” of course, was a term first coined in a 1946 speech where Winston Churchill calls for a joint Anglo-American military command that would rule the world together, pretty much explicitly as a way of keeping the empire together. The White Man’s Burden! Which is why this part of the cable is my favorite:

The atmospherics surrounding the relationship with the United States are always under intense scrutiny in Britain, but UK media, pundits, and parliamentarians have openly worried over the last several months that the Obama administration might downplay relations with the Brown Government because of a “perfect storm” of factors…Fears about the end of the special relationship were further fueled by British over-reading of the new Administration’s initial statements. More than one HMG senior official asked embassy officers whether President Obama meant to send a signal in his inaugural address about U.S.-UK relations by quoting Washington during the Revolutionary War, while the removal of the Churchill bust from the Oval Office consumed much UK newsprint, typified by a London Times story this week entitled, “Churchill Bust Casts a Shadow Over the Special Relationship.”

and

“the fate of a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office during President Bush’s tenure has been closely monitored in the UK media and by our HMG contacts, very few of whom failed to a sinister meaning into the decision to remove the bust (which was on loan to the White House and removed for that reason).”