Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Britain Now America’s Worst Enemy?

Most people think of Britain as America’s closest ally, but it’s time to jettison that idea. The two primary factors that shaped their “special relationship” in the aftermath of World War II -- the Cold War and the need to arrange a stable transatlantic transfer of power -- are now irrelevant. As one of Britain’s cold blooded politicians put it two centuries ago, the country has no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Those interests might now have positioned Britain as America’s worst enemy.

Consider what’s been happening in Afghanistan. Is it credible that the Taliban, which was at best a smoke and mirrors creation of Pakistan’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), should be competent on its own to give the United States a run for its money?

The Taliban consists of a few thousand fighters, most of them illiterate and poor, drawn to fight not by religious fanaticism but for money. The group’s leadership of record consists of a rag-tag band of tribal leaders and mullahs, none with any demonstrated capabilities for anything but simple battlefield strategies. Yet we are asked to believe that this group managed to infiltrate a Jordanian agent into the Central Intelligence Agency – getting Jordan’s spymasters to vouch for his credibility – and then turned him into a suicide bomber who took out most of the members of a CIA field post in Afghanistan.

That is not a credible story. Even Pakistan’s ISI couldn’t have done it on its own. Only Britain’s MI-6 has the breadth of contacts and insider information about the CIA necessary for the operation.

Why would the British do it? Because the CIA post in question was focused, according to a recent article circulated by Tomgram, on taking out “the Haqqani network in North Waziristan just across the Pakistani border.” It was “collecting information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting missions to kill the networks’ top leaders.” The post has been effective, as the on-going drone assassinations prove, and was probably beginning to disrupt Britain’s primary interests in the region, the illicit drug trade out of Afghanistan-Pakistan, and strategic control of both countries through small and violent groups (the ISI in the case of Pakistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan).

More broadly, the CIA "surge" in Pakistan and Afghanistan threatened Britain's long-standing role as Washington's eyes and ears in the region, which gave it enormous capacity to influence regional affairs. The growing strategic relationship between India and the United States, and the determination of the CIA to build up its own capacities in Afghanistan would have sapped much of that power. The precise hit on the CIA post thus directly served British interests.

Another reason for animosity between the two partners is that Washington has been muscling in on control of Pakistan, which has been pretty much Britain's exclusive domain since it created the country as its regional proxy at the end of its colonial rule of India. A British Army officer established the ISI to fight the first "Indo-Pak war" and it has been used to fuel and foment jihadist, insurrectionist and subversive events in every country in South Asia.

The London Conference on Afghanistan last week, at which Britain orchestrated a European call to hustle the NATO involvement into a transitional mode by the end of 2010, rachets up the pressure on the Obama administration to quit too. This move coincides with talk about including in the Kabul government the so-called "good Taliban." At British initiative, the United Nations Security Council removed four Taliban terrorists from its sanctions list. One of the four was actively involved in hijacking an Indian airliner out of Nepal and the subsequent exchange of its passengers for four terrorists held in Indian prisons. One of the four released at that time went on to become a key figure in the Lashkar e-Toiba, the group suspected of a string of major terrorist attacks. India's strong objections to the Security Council move were ignored.

Talk of the "good Taliban" is nonsense. Unless the nexus of drug-runners, terrorists and money launderers is broken, we can expect no peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India. That nexus is kept in place by that part of the British political elite that used the Cold War to take its former imperial control underground. It now controls most of the estimated $17 trillion underground economy that is fed by drug trafficking and other forms of international crime. That economy, operating through an intricate system of over 90 "off-shore tax havens" outside all national jurisdictions, has become the tail wagging the dog during the current global economic crisis; growing American pressure to bring it under control is another strong reason for the British elite's enmity towards Washington.

By the way, the secretive banking system and the underground global economy are fairly recent phenomena: they have been in existence only since the 1960s. The timing is significant, for the 1960s saw most of Africa decolonized. The new secretive systems that replaced overt imperial control are estimated to launder about a trillion dollars annually out of the economies of developing countries, including China.

London is a dangerous enemy, for it can not only marshall opposition to the United States diplomatically, its links to the drugs-terrorist nexus allows it to mount remote-controlled terrorist attacks from countries ranging from Pakistan to Jordan to Nigeria. The attacker of the CIA post was Jordanian; the "underwear bomber" who failed to blow up a United airlines flight over Detroit last Christmas was Nigerian. Britain also maintains an extremely effective public relations capability, which has been used to present all American initiatives affecting British interests as imperialistic. That drumbeat of criticism has lowered Obama's credibility and poll ratings globally.

[P.S. Apropos that last sentence, in 2013 I did a piece on How Britain Controls the Global Narrative.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What are you blithering about?

"No friends, only interests"? True, Palmerston said that of England (hundreds of years ago), but so did de Gaulle of France, and Kissinger of the USA much more recently.

I would actually agree that America & Great Britain have swung back around from staunch allies to arch enemies, but only because of America's overbearing attitude towards us.

You can fantasise these paranoid conspiracy theories about Britain providing intelligence to the Taliban & associates all you like, but it is well known that it is the CIA who have a hand in the drugs trade, not MI6 - and it's not like the American secret services, being a law unto themselves, haven't put their fellow countrymen into harm's way in order to advance their interests before.

A God-damn Limey