11/07/2024 strategic-culture.su  10min 🇬🇧 #252393

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Starmer is turning Britain into a vassal state

By Thomas FAZI

It seems fitting that Keir Starmer's international debut should be the Nato summit that kicks off in Washington, DC today. Ostensibly scheduled as a celebration of the alliance's 75th anniversary, it will no doubt be remembered as the moment that Britain's new PM pledged his allegiance to his transatlantic overlords.

Ever since Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2020, he has gone out of his way to purge it of any hint of pacifism and anti-imperialism - and transform Labour, once again, into the  "party of Nato", war and militarism. In opposition, Starmer's machine unswervingly followed the Conservative government in aligning itself with American foreign policy - voicing support for Nato's proxy war against Russia, Western  expansion into Asia via Aukus,  Israel's campaign in Gaza, and the American-led  bombing of Yemen.

To further signal Labour's loyalty to Washington, Starmer chose David Lammy as his foreign secretary, the Harvard-educated  regular visitor to several establishment fora in the US. In 2022, for instance, he attended the annual Bilderberg Meeting, a secretive gathering of US and Western elites, becoming one of only two Labour MPs to have done so over the past decade. Like Starmer, Lammy has been explicit about his unabashedly pro-American and pro-Nato stance. "If I become foreign secretary, I will not hide my transatlanticism," he  told an audience at Chatham House last year. Similarly, John Healey, Starmer's new defence secretary, is also a long-time supporter of American interventionism, even backing the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Starmer himself also has longstanding connections to the US-UK security complex, even  joining the Trilateral Commission, the powerful  CIA-linked organisation set up by American billionaire David Rockefeller, while serving as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow Brexit secretary. But Starmer had already proven himself partial to American establishment interests during his previous career as a public prosecutor. As head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from 2008 to 2013, Starmer has been  accused of applying the law rather selectively. In 2010 and again in 2012, for instance, he made the controversial decision not to charge MI5 and MI6 agents who faced  credible  accusations of complicity, alongside American agents, in the kidnapping and torture of various individuals. Starmer also  let the police officers involved in the infamous "Spycops" scandal  off the hook - a decades-long covert operation in which undercover officers infiltrated more than 1,000 Left-wing political organisations, and even manipulated several women into long-term sexual relationships.

A very different treatment was reserved for alleged "enemies of the state" - especially the American state. Most notably, the CPS under Starmer appears to have played a  pivotal role in the Assange case, helping to set in motion the infernal legal machinery that led to the journalist's 14-year ordeal, which ended only last month. During the period when the CPS was overseeing Assange's case, Starmer made several trips to Washington, meeting with attorney general Eric Holder and a host of American and British national security officials. What they discussed has never been revealed, though the CPS has  admitted to destroying key emails relating to the Assange case, mostly covering the period when Starmer was director.

For his service, Starmer was knighted in 2014, and elected as an MP a year later. In 2016, following Corbyn's win in the party's leadership election, he was nominated shadow Brexit secretary. In that position, he was instrumental in overturning the party's stance on the European Union,  advocating for Labour to back a second referendum - a position that alienated many Brexit supporters and significantly contributed to Labour's defeat in the 2019 election.

And yet, following Corbyn's resignation, Starmer found himself at Labour's helm, from where he took it upon himself to "deradicalise" the party, purging it of any socialist and anti-militarist elements. As Oliver Eagleton explains in  The Starmer Project, since becoming leader, Starmer  has conducted "a merciless crackdown on the mildest forms of internal dissent" -  blocking Left-wing candidates from standing for Parliament,  proscribing various socialist groups, and  targeting MPs and  local members who are critical of Nato or Israel (including  several Jews).

Given all this, the foreign-policy vision outlined in Labour's  manifesto was hardly surprising. "As the party that founded Nato, we maintain our unshakeable commitment to the alliance", the document states. This means, first and foremost, fully endorsing Nato's war against Russia. "With Labour, the UK's military, financial, diplomatic and political support for Ukraine will remain steadfast," we are told, including by "play[ing] a leading role in providing Ukraine with a clear path to Nato membership".

Disconcertingly for anyone concerned about the prospect of escalation, the manifesto also outlines the need to militarise the entire UK economy in preparation for a full-scale war on the continent. This includes a  "total commitment" to the UK's submarine-based nuclear weapons programme, which Starmer said he would be willing to use in principle. Labour is equally committed to moving in lockstep with the US over China by maintaining a steadfast commitment to Aukus, the trilateral security partnership with Australia and the US, and being prepared to "challenge" China. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, the manifesto explains that Britain's role as America's vassal-in-chief will continue regardless of whoever occupies the White House: "The United States is an indispensable ally. Our special relationship is crucial for security and prosperity, and transcends whatever political parties and individuals are in office."

On this point, the good news is that if Donald Trump should return to the White House and decide to bring the Russia-Ukraine conflict to a close, as he has hinted, the UK would likely follow suit. But it's also revealing of the extent to which Britain's ruling elites have internalised the UK's role as a subordinate to American interests. This is a stance that clearly runs contrary to any notion of the British national interest, unless one assumes the geopolitical interests of the two countries to be always automatically aligned, which is clearly not the case.

Unlike the US, which is a massive continental power with huge military capabilities and a great potential for economic self-reliance, the UK, as a small open economy with relatively underwhelming conventional military capacities, has an obvious interest, for example, in avoiding an all-out war with its Russian neighbour, and maintaining friendly economic relations with the non-Western world, first and foremost China. In this sense, the UK elites' obsession for the "special relationship" is really just a cover for their abdication of the national interest.

"The UK elites' obsession for the 'special relationship' is really just a cover for their abdication of the national interest."

The rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn, and Labour's subsequent pro-US realignment under Starmer, thus reveals a much bigger story than just a successful coup at the hands of the party's Right, or the British establishment more in general; rather, it should be seen as an epiphenomenon of the UK's vassal-like relationship to the US - and the limited sovereignty this entails. In his recent book  Vassal State: How America Runs Britain, Angus Hanton shows the extent to which US corporations own and control much of the British economy, and how this has resulted in Britain adopting economic policies that align with US interest, often to the detriment of its own economic sovereignty. But the US's influence over the UK extends well beyond the economic realm.

In intelligence and military terms, the UK is much more  heavily reliant on the US than the public realises, leading to the country's de facto strategic dependence on Washington. Even the UK's nuclear arsenal is under the  complete control of Uncle Sam. This goes a long way to explaining why Britain's foreign policy, and its security policy in general, has consistently followed American strategic objectives, demonstrating a clear pattern of subordination. This includes the UK's participation in the long list of 21st-century American foreign policy blunders - in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya among others - for which the UK paid a high price  in terms of blowback.

America's influence over the British policy establishment is further compounded by an intellectual ecosystem - comprising a wide array of think tanks, lobby groups and media enterprises - that is heavily controlled by the US intelligence and security complex. For example, one of America's most hawkish think tanks, the RAND Corporation, financed by the US government and military-industrial complex, is among the organisations that has  the biggest impact on the British policymaking process. The US also directly funds several British think tanks: the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), for instance, the UK's leading defence and security think tank, is  funded by the US State Department.

Britain's subordination to the US, and its establishment's commitment to the prioritisation of American interests, also has serious implications for Britain's democratic process. Indeed, implicit in the unprecedented  fearmongering and vilification campaign directed against Corbyn is the existence of an unspoken rule whereby the UK's American-aligned foreign policy is not up for democratic deliberation.

The result, as we'll no doubt witness in the coming days, is a British government that appears less sovereign than it's ever been. Over the next three days, expect Starmer to rubberstamp Nato's calls for the endless protraction of the war in Ukraine, the boosting of the "European pillar" of Nato, and the blocs expansion into the Asia Pacific. As will quickly become clear, despite all the talk of Brexit being about "taking back control", Starmer's Britain seems destined to become even more of a vassal state.

Original article:  unherd.com

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