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You see, it’s like this…

I suppose there’s no point having a friend in Old Blighty (that would be me) if you can’t get insight into current events out of it. Ummmm…so. A lot of American commentators are saying that Brits soured on the Iraq war after it went off badly.

Not so. They hated the Iraq war from the get-go and never wanted any part of it. Why should they? That it went badly was widely seen as inevitable, as the Brits (under both Labour and Tories) have cut their defense budget to the bone. They feel like they threw their boys into a meat grinder for no good reason.

Blair telling them they had to go to war or Saddam would use weapons of destruction right here in Britain was the kind of stupid scary story you tell kids to make them turn out the light and go to bed. That just added insult to death toll.

Oh, and speaking of insult, Barky started piling it on from “hello.” Forget the little things — the stupid bust of Churchill controversy, Her Maj’s iPod stuffed full of the Speeches of Chairman Obama — what really stings is the lack of support in the Falklands. Oh, and Kerry calling France America’s oldest ally tonight, that didn’t help.

So, without even going into Cameron’s failings, Syria was always going to be a hard sell.

I laugh whenever politicians talk about damaging the Special Relationship, though. They think it has something to do with them, and treaty obligations and shit like that. The Special Relationship is that we’re fundamentally the same people. Until almost the 19th C, we were fellow citizens. Well, subjects. We still watch each other’s TV and read each other’s novels in high school and follow each other’s newspapers.

This really happens: strangers hear my accent and come tell me about the vacation they took in Vegas or Disney Land or their kid who’s studying in Massachusetts. Politicians don’t own the relationship, and I get the feeling that pisses them off.

Right, then. Good weekend, all.


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 30, 2013, 11:30 pm

I must admit that I have quit following the news very closely – it’s been more than a year now since I have closely followed anything (Ok, Zimmerman excepted). So, I am having real trouble understanding why Obama is so dead set on doing something in Syria NOW without the support of the UN and now without the support of our second-oldest ally. Yeah, yeah he claims gas attacks, but no one else seems to buy it seriously.

So, it’s a political act with absolutely zero foreign-policy consideration. Is it to distract from the NSA scandal? Obamacare? Whhhhhhyyyy?

Oh yeah, and the UK owes this administration exactly nuthin’

Comment from surly ermine
Time: August 30, 2013, 11:42 pm

Definitely a shared culture. I’m sure you make a fine ambassador Stoaty. Ever notice how many US shows are based on UK shows? “Sanford and Son” for crying out loud!

France? Oh shit.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: August 31, 2013, 12:25 am

Yeah, but with France on our side, how can things go wrong?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 31, 2013, 12:25 am

As one o’ them Brits, I think Her Stoatliness has it by the throat – much as one might expect.

There is anti-Americanism here, much the same as the anti-British sentiment that exists on the other side of the herring pond, but in my experience both are minority sports. Like goldfish racing. Or owl strangling.

There has been a lot of talk today about this being a ‘historic break with precedent’. All I can say is that shows how young and ignorant our journalists have become. For the record, we were in Korea with you but stayed out of Vietnam. Much as the USA peed on our attempts to ‘sort out’ Egypt during the ‘Suez crisis’ of 1956.

So there is no ‘precedent’. ‘We’ (by which I mean our politicians) have always picked and chosen their conflicts.

In the current situation, neither Obama nor Cameron represents their countries in any meaningful way – and let’s just pause for a hearty guffaw at ‘America’s oldest ally’, personified by Hollande, who is simply trying to squawk loudly enough to deflect attention from his own ‘shock and awe’ strikes against the French economy.

The ‘special relationship’ is familial and it is cultural. It cannot be usurped or appropriated by politicians trying to exploit it for their own ends – certainly not by a pair of intellectual dwarves, like Obama and Cameron, both of whose governments have been characterised by arrogance, myopia and failure.

The mood in the UK is quite simple. We don’t like Obama and we don’t like Cameron and we certainly don’t trust them! This isn’t anti-Americanism, nor is it a lack of willingness to fight when there is both a clear objective and a just cause .

No one (sane) here wants to attack Syria for very obvious reasons.

1/ Both sides are mad and it is impossible to decide which is the madder. The ideal resolution would be that they wiped each other out.

2/ There is absolutely no sense that either Obama or Cameron has any idea what would happen if we did attack.

3/ If we overthrew Assad, however awful he may be, in what way would having Islamist supporters of Al Qaeda in charge be to the benefit of the West?

4/ If, after Obama throws your toys out of ‘his’ pram and Assad goes on gassing his people regardless, with the tacit consent of Putin (who clearly has an accurate measure of Obama’s worth), then what?

There is a growing disenchantment with this political class in both the USA and the UK and a strong sense that we must cut these arrogant monkeys down to size.

The USA made a good start with the Tea Party. We need to follow you in that. But not into Syria. Sorry chaps.

Comment from Dustoffmom
Time: August 31, 2013, 12:31 am

Well Uncle Badger, I’m across the pond from you and have to say you all don’t hold a patent on the not liking Obama thing. There are lots of us here that surely don’t like him either! See, more in common than ever! Personally I say jolly good job for saying no…we won’t play in this game. There can be no winner here that I can see and a big loser……us!

Comment from scottthebadger
Time: August 31, 2013, 12:49 am

BRAVO ZULU, Parliment! There is nothing in Syria of National Security Interest to either of our countries.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 31, 2013, 1:04 am

The average American loves the British, and in my experience, vice versa.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 31, 2013, 1:38 am

The French as “oldest ally” is flat out wrong. “Oldest” implies continuity from some point in the past until the present (and “ally” has a specific meaning in war time). Just Google “De Gaulle NATO” for one discontinuity. What is true, and of no consequence whatsoever, is that France, for its own benefits and nothing to do with the fledgling U.S.A., was an ally during the Revolutionary War in the late 18th century. So France was the U.S.A.’s earliest temporary ally. Whoop-de-doo.

(For that matter, Google “De Gaulle Quebec” for a bit of transatlantic shenanigans with our northern pals.)

All that said, though, I’m still glad Parliament gave Cameron a Bronx cheer. I don’t put all that much significance on the matter, but I’m glad nevertheless. Well done.

Uncle B., you mention the Tea Party. I’m almost certain to be pointing you in a direction you’ve already looked, but you may want to read up on what Richard North has to say about the Harrowgate Agenda (there’s a link at the top of his EU Referendum page).

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 31, 2013, 10:58 am

You don’t want to be an Amerikan …. hated world wide.

Tell them you are an Australian! lol!
Oh hang on, that works for Amerikans … not people with brains 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 31, 2013, 11:01 am

Thanks, Uncle Al – yes, you’re right, I follow North’s blog,

I’ve just read the UK papers I can stand to read and none of them seem to have grasped that underpinning the national mood is a near-total contempt for our political class.

As North was regularly saying a while back at the end of one of his splenetic pieces: and the reason we do not rise up and slaughter them, is?

Comment from Nina
Time: August 31, 2013, 2:18 pm

No idea, but I don’t think the Brit of old has been eradicated entirely from your stalwart island, jes’ sayin’.

(Yes, I’m an Anglophile, so sue me)

Comment from BJM
Time: August 31, 2013, 4:14 pm

I listened to the debate in Parliament and particularly enjoyed the MP(s) making sheep noises during the vote.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 31, 2013, 4:49 pm

There are three possible outcomes in Syria.

1) Assad (with help from Iran and Russia) suppresses the rebellion. This would be a humanitarian disaster and a huge boost for Iran, and a major humiliation for the U.S. and the West, whose noisy diaapproval of Assad will have been totally ineffectual, compared to the weapons and troops provided by Iran and Russia.

2) The rebels overthrow Assad by themselves. This would be a humanitarian disaster, a huge boost for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and a major humiliation for the U.S. and the West, whose noisy diaapproval of Assad will have been totally ineffectual compared to the weapons and troops provided by Al-Qaeda et al.

3) The U.S. and the West intervene and take out Assad. (“Boots on the ground” are not required, Cruise missiles could destroy all of Assad’s airpower, which would be decisive. Even if it isn’t intrinsic decisive, the threat of further strikes would demoralize his forces.) This would be a severe blow to Iran and Russia, a vindication of U.S./Western power, and a humiliation for Al-Qaeda, whose jihadist thunder would be stolen. It could still be a humanitarian disaster, but there would be at least the possibility that the diminished prestige of the jihadist would allow the reasonable elements in the insurgency to make a peaceful settlement with the regime’s allies (the Alawi and Christian minorities).

There is one more possibility, I suppose. Obama orders some kind of half-assed airstrikes, which Asssd’s forces chrug off, followed by 1) or 2) later on, thus making the U.S. look even more ineffective. (Plus with the regime taking shelter behind various human shields, the U.S. will get blamed for civilian casualties.)

3) is the least bad outcome.

We could have had 3) two years ago, but Obama of course dithered. Instead of acting directly, he let the situation fester, and outsourced U.S. action to Erdogan in Turkey, an Islamist who has built up the jihadists in the insurgency.

Also – in the case of either 1) or 2), there will be an immense number of refugees which the West must either shelter or reject, most of whom will be innocents fleeing violence, but some of whom will be the worst elements of the losing side.

Cameron of course failed to make this case, because Obama is afraid to make it. Labour wouldn’t admit it, because they are locked into reflexive anti-Western pacifism. (Which is objectively pro-Islamist, just as the previous generation was objectively pro-Communist, and the one before that was objectively pro-fascist.)

Comment from beasn
Time: August 31, 2013, 5:32 pm

Wait, aren’t the rebels, who want to take out Assad, al qaeda or muslim brotherhood?
In that case, why help take out Assad? There are no good guys.

Option 4 – let them sort it out.
Option 5 – turn the entire region into a sheet of glass starting at the black rock that looks like an arsehole. Now that would be hitting a ‘reset’ button.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 31, 2013, 6:10 pm

Beasn, you crack me up.

Comment from William Dooley
Time: August 31, 2013, 7:15 pm

My mother’s parents were from Poland. My father’s Irish folks came over a little sooner. Still, I have affection for our common English heritage. The English pretty much invented the idea of individual liberty, and I want the US to carry it on.

God save the Queen and the USA.

Comment from beasn
Time: August 31, 2013, 8:06 pm

Idea for sweasel art shop. Since you don’t have a 4 year old, substitute a badger or a chicken.


She’s selling some as prints.

Or maybe not, they’re kind of spooky.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 31, 2013, 10:01 pm

Heh. I kind of like that.

I tell you what, though — the kid might have roughed those out, but Mama finished them. No child has that good a graphic sensibility.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 31, 2013, 10:08 pm

Sorry, but a parent should be able to say to her kid “You have yours. This is mine. No.”

This is why my students come to class thinking they can talk me into things after I’ve said no.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 31, 2013, 11:08 pm

I pity the foo’

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 1, 2013, 1:24 am

No one here mentions what China and Russia are going to do to you if you cross their red line in Syria.

Comment from steve
Time: September 1, 2013, 1:36 am

Regarding Syria…

“No Blood for Ego!”

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: September 1, 2013, 6:57 am

There are other nasty options in the offing. Earlier today King Buraq-I graciously allowed as how he will allow Congress to vote on the use of force. But he asserts the right to still attack, even if Congress votes no, according to the State Department.


As Donald Sensing writes, that sets up a two pronged Constitutional crisis. If Obama is not then impeached immediately after ordering the attack, then we are openly a one person dictatorship [which admittedly clears the field of distractions]. And at that point, if Congress has voted against going to war and Obama does it anyway, every member of the military, especially officers, have a positive obligation to refuse orders from him. Their Oath is to the Constitution, not the President. And a lot of people not currently in the services have sworn that same Oath.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 2, 2013, 1:03 am

Regarding Syria,

Putin is going to nuke Saudi Arabia

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: September 2, 2013, 1:32 am

Badger cull in England? RUNNN!!! At least Brian May has your back


Comment from Pablo
Time: September 2, 2013, 11:31 am

3) The U.S. and the West intervene and take out Assad. (“Boots on the ground” are not required, Cruise missiles could destroy all of Assad’s airpower, which would be decisive. Even if it isn’t intrinsic decisive, the threat of further strikes would demoralize his forces.) This would be a severe blow to Iran and Russia, a vindication of U.S./Western power, and a humiliation for Al-Qaeda, whose jihadist thunder would be stolen.

You’ve just described our Libya intervention which, unsurprisingly, has resulted in far more of a humiliation to us than to al-Qaeda. Western power is meaningless without resolve.

We should pull a few nukes out to the driveway for a leisurely wash and wax job, and then grab some cold ones, warm up the La-Z-Boy and make popcorn. Lots and lots of popcorn.

Comment from Dawn
Time: September 3, 2013, 4:21 am

Everything written above is what I come here for!

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 3, 2013, 6:20 pm

beasn @ August 31, 2013, 5:32 pm:Wait, aren’t the rebels, who want to take out Assad, al qaeda or muslim brotherhood?

Some of them are. When the rebellion started, only a few were. But the U.S. and its allies have pretty much refused to act, and the Sunni jihadists showed up with money, guns, and men. Now they have a dominant position in the rebellion. This was enabled by Obama delegating action to Erdogan in Turkey, who is a Sunni Islamist.

There is still a possibility to salvage something from this wreck.

In that case, why help take out Assad?

Because Assad is the ally (and by now the puppet) of Iran, the biggest, most dangerous, utterly implacable enemy of the U.S.

Option 4 – let them sort it out.

Which means outcome 1 or outcome 2, both of which are very bad for the U.S.

Option 5 – turn the entire region into a sheet of glass starting at the black rock that looks like an arsehole. Now that would be hitting a ‘reset’ button.

Nah, that would mean a lot of fallout drifting back here. Better to sends troops through, napalming every village and then bayoneting any survivors. Genocide is much more fun up close and personal.

You’re not up for that? Then don’t blather about killing hundreds of millions of people, 90% of whom have never done anyone any harm.

There are no good choices. The convenient and easy choices are bad.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: September 8, 2013, 7:27 pm


Actually, there is a – sort-of-useful – Fourth Option.

Although it’s by far the trickiest, most difficult – and the rather-most-tenuous, most-“nuanced” route to follow…which is why, in all likelihood, it will not even be considered, much less attempted.

4) The U.S. – and/or “the West”, however much (or little) of it remains capable of even moderately-concerted effort – does nothing directly – no missiles, no bombs, no “boots on the ground”, no direct war nor war-like acts of any sort; and, does everything possible indirectly to interdict, to interfere, to prevent any further involvement, covert or open, on the part of Russia and/or Iran. Do everything possible to put a series of broken spokes in the wheeling-and-dealing by Assad’s foreign backers – and, make no mistake, there is considerable that can and should be done in that line…there must simply be the will to do such; certainly, the knowledge of what to do and how to do it is either already in place, or can be put into action rapidly, within days at most…and meanwhile, apply all possible pressure that can be brought to bear upon a) the U(seless)N(atterers to intervene, to send observers, to investigate the gas-attack “allegations”, to lay blame if blame is found/findable, to require an “armistice”, a cease-fire (which, of course, neither side in Syria would respect or abide by, even if they somehow would state that they would do so); and b) the entire “international community” (whateverthehell that is) to join in, in bringing pressure to bear to cease fire, to discuss, to “negotiate” – to take “the middle way”…

Result: Advantage, the U.S. and “the West” – after all, everyone loves and seeks Peace. right? And who can say – perhaps, instead of a replay of Libya, we could get a sort of replay of – what? – Algeria? Constant, grinding, low-grade internicine warfare, between Al Qaeda-led “insurgents” and Assad’s tyranny, while the UN dithers and dallies and we (covertly, of course) do as much damage as possible to both sides’ foreign sources of supply and fighters.

Mooselimbs cutting up tyranny-led Mooselimbs, attacking each other – in a continuing, low-grade conflict – while “the peacemakers” look on, and decry and deplore the continued perfidy and slaughter.

Succor the refugees – the unarmed, legitimate ones, anyway – and let the combatants…do what they’re going to do anyway…

Where’s the downside to that? “Worst-case” scenario is, they actually stop fighting before both of the equally-execrable two sides in this jihadi face-off kill each other off entirely.

Sort of subtle, I know – and pretty vicious, perhaps, morally-speaking – but…somehow highly-appropriate.

Much too “nuanced”, of course – which is why it’s not going to happen.


(For me, one of the very best parts of this route would be that it would absolutely horrify and outrage – publicly, one hopes – the likes of horrid ol’ Eddy Asner and the Horrendously Moronic Hollyweirds…might even give ’em all a terminal haemorrhage or stroke or something.

Hey, that might clobber ol’ Red-Ass Insaney Janey Fonda – which means I’d win the Dead Pool! Victory!!)

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