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Following Brexit, Britain’s Foreign Policy Elite is having a Breakdown

Brexit will accelerate the decline of British influence including within the Western alliance.

Alexander Mercouris

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One group of people has more cause to regret Brexit than any other.  This is the mass of international affairs pundits, military “specialists” and NATO shills who populate Britain’s media and its disproportionately large number of think-tanks like Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the rest, and what remains of Britain’s once mighty foreign policy and defence establishment.  For these people Brexit is nothing short of a catastrophe.

As I recently discussed for The Duran the reality of British power is very different from the perception.  Far from being a major power in the world today, Britain is a rapidly declining one.

That decline has however been masked by Britain’s involvement in two global institutions: the NATO alliance and the EU.

These two organisations are closely interconnected with each other.  The EU provides the economic and political leadership, NATO the military muscle.  Together they make up the Western alliance.  Other states outside these two organisations like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are sometimes bolted on, but in reality these Asian powers have for some time been following their own increasingly independent course (South Korea for example has very friendly relations with Russia).  The other Pacific Ocean Anglophone states – Australia and New Zealand – are too distant and too small to matter.

Of these two organisations it is the EU which – contrary to widespread perception – is by far the more important.  Whilst EU does not have a formal link to the US in the way that NATO does, in reality – as I have also discussed for The Duran – the US is omnipresent within the EU and is in reality its dominant silent partner. 

As for NATO, it is important not to conflate NATO with the far more powerful US military. The actual military forces at NATO’s disposal, though in theory quite large, are of widely varying quality and many of them cannot be deployed easily.  There are moreover increasing questions about how strong the commitment of certain NATO states to defend the others really is

By contrast the EU is a cohesive economic and political bloc.  It is at the EU level that key foreign policy decisions pertaining to the Western alliance’s policies to the outside world are implemented even if the decisions are often made elsewhere – for example at G7 summits or in private consultations between the US President and the German Chancellor.  It was the EU for example, not NATO, that imposed economic sanctions against Russia and Iran – the only meaningful action the Western allies have taken that has really had an effect on those countries.

Whilst Britain has been a semi-detached member of the EU in terms of its economic policies for some time, it has at least in theory been fully engaged in the EU’s foreign policy decision-making and implementation process through its status as a full EU member state.  By way of example, on the European Council – the EU’s key policy-making institution – the British have been outspoken supporters of a hard line towards Russia and have called for maintaining the sanctions policy against Russia.  Though in reality the sanctions policy was agreed in discussions between the US and the Germans, the mere fact the British were formally party to the decision meant that they could claim ownership of it. Recently some British commentators have even taken to claiming – quite falsely – that it was the British who persuaded the other EU states to make the decision, giving the credit to David Cameron.

I witnessed at SPIEF this year precisely what participation at the top table of the EU has come to mean for some elite Britons.  In one of the two panels chaired by Peter Lavelle in which I participated, Benjamin Wegg-Prosser – Tony Blair’s former adviser – spoke confidently and with all appearance of authority – as if he was speaking for all of Europe – of how European opinion was supposedly alienated from Russia and of how it was a certainty that the sanctions would be rolled over this June (as he said it I noticed the French and Germans who were either participating in the panel or were in the audience quietly rolling their eyes). 

Britain’s departure from the EU strips Britain of even that appearance of importance.  No-one can any longer pretend that when the EU makes a foreign policy decision Britain has anything to do with it.  

Moreover Britain’s absence from the EU will mean its importance to the US will decline also.  The key relationship within the Western alliance is not the one between the US and Britain, as it was in the 1950s and 1960s and as it became briefly again in the 1980s during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.  It is the one between the US and Germany, which is the key country which along with the US decides policy within the EU.  With Britain no longer part of the EU, the reason why the US should any longer bother to consult Britain when it discusses things with Germany is not obvious.  Since Britain will not have any power of veto in the European Council it cannot even act as a spoiler in the way that France and Italy can.  Arguably even those powers will soon be more important for the US than Britain is.  Over time I expect the British to be cut out of the key discussions almost entirely.  As it becomes increasingly obvious that this is the case the other non-Western powers like the Chinese and the Russians will also see increasingly little reason in speaking to a country that though still part of the Western alliance no longer has any influence over it.

Of course if Scotland secedes – which is very likely – and if as a result Britain loses its seat in the UN Security Council – which is less likely but also possible – then the facade of British power will become more tattered still.  Nuclear weapons – unpopular, unusable and increasingly unaffordable – will be the only vestige of Great Power status Britain will have left.

Whether or not it comes to that, Britain’s status as a significant component of the Western alliance and the influence – or pretended influence – it drew from that fact, is ending.  In the short term at least I expect the British establishment to try to make up for the fact by hugging the US even closer.  In the longer term, when it becomes obvious that that isn’t working, some parts of the British establishment may – in order to regain some of the international influence they have lost – start to act more independently of the US, reverting finally to the sort of policies Britain used to follow before it became dependent on the US during the Second World War. 

That will however take a long time and will require a fundamental change in outlook on the part of Britain’s foreign policy elite, which they will find extremely difficult.  One way or the other they have suffered both in terms of their influence and their self-esteem a shattering blow from which they may never recover.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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