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Britain’s Special Relationship Fantasy Has Been Exposed

7 27 47
13.09.2021

When U.S. President Joe Biden decided earlier this year to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan, he did so without consulting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And as mass evacuations from Kabul began in August, Johnson’s frantic phone calls to the White House were ignored for 36 hours. All this happened even though Britain sent more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq than any other U.S. ally. In pure military terms the British contribution may not have amounted to very much, but since 9/11 Britain had consistently given the United States political cover in the “war on terror.”

The Afghanistan withdrawal thus made Britain’s abject position in the so-called “special relationship” with Washington humiliatingly apparent. The United States is being accused by some critics of no longer being a serious power after its latest debacle abroad. But Britain is in an even worse position, because its claim to high international status has rested heavily on the special relationship since World War Two.

Britain’s low importance in Washington ought to have been apparent already. In 2003, Tony Blair committed his country to standing “shoulder to shoulder with our American friends” in the Iraq War; but when George W. Bush began the invasion of Iraq, Blair first learned about it by watching the television news. Blair was ignored by the White House, too. Now he is reduced to lamenting that Islamism, of the sort now reigning in Afghanistan, remains “a first-order security threat” for the West, and that nation building is as important as ever.

When U.S. President Joe Biden decided earlier this year to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan, he did so without consulting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And as mass evacuations from Kabul began in August, Johnson’s frantic phone calls to the White House were ignored for 36 hours. All this happened even though Britain sent more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq than any other U.S. ally. In pure military terms the British contribution may not have amounted to very much, but since 9/11 Britain had consistently given the United States political cover in the “war on terror.”

The Afghanistan withdrawal thus made Britain’s abject position in the so-called “special relationship” with Washington........

© Foreign Policy


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