The voice of young liberal democrats


Labour, Still the Republican Poodle by georgeinwashington
October 4, 2007, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Foreign Affairs, iran, Iraq, US/UK relations

On Monday a shocking article was released by the acclaimed journalist in the States, Seymour Hersh. In it he says that early in the summer detailed plans had been formed to conduct air strikes against Iran and that the British were “on board” http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/08/071008fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=1 He later goes on to say that the most enthusiastic supporter of the new Bush plan was none other than our own Gordon Brown.

Seymour is no hack, his journalism is of the highest quality. He was the man that uncovered the Abu Gharaib scandal and his article on the preparations of the US administration’s build up to the war in Iraq was passed on  by then British Ambassador Christopher Meyer to Downing street as a “pretty accurate picture of whats going on”

Whilst Brown is portraying himself in public as an in independent minded actor distancing himself from the slavish relationship towards the US of his predecessor. In reality, the fundamental premise of our foreign policy remains the same. Blindly follow the US into any of its misadventures rather no matter what the consequence for us or indeed the opinions of the British people.

Labour not Blair must be stopped.

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Lib Dems, The Suggestion Party by georgeinwashington
August 21, 2007, 12:22 am
Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Liberal Democrats, Party Matters, US/UK relations

When Ming Campbell took over the Liberal Democrat Party, he stated that we would no longer be making polite suggestions from the sidelines but hammering on the doors of power. Todays letter from Ming to the PM sadly showed that there has been little change in this direction. Far from hammering down any doors down, Ming “urged a reappraisal” of strategy, he asked the government to think again.

Whilst I am not against polite political discourse the time to ask the government to simply think again has long passed. They should have thought again before the conflict, they didn’t and after four years of failure it is time to start demanding action.

This requires more than a letter to the PM asking him to reconsider his Iraq strategy. We need to propose a credible and workable alternative. To think of bigger solutions than a simple request for a redeployment to Afghanistan. This debate is already happening in the US with presidential candidate Joe Biden proposing a federalising of Iraq into three entities, like the Dayton agreement that brought peace to Bosnia. Despite the fact that Senator Biden is not one of the front running candidates in the election his ideas are now being adopted by the others. The same Senator Biden, in his capacity of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met with the Ambassadors of the Permanent members of the Security Council where they supposedly all agreed to support a UN sponsored Peace Conference if the US proposed one.

Although the war has been deeply unpopular we in Britain can not escape the fact that we stood side by side with President Bush in his march into Iraq and continued to say nothing during the catastrophic errors in the occupation that have left an incredible mess that is Iraq today. Responsibility and leadership now demand that we make some contribution to its solution, at the very least diplomatically. Why is Britain, as a major partner in this war suggesting the same or proposing a peace conference itself as a permanent member of the Security Council.

If the Liberal Democrats could come up with some dynamic and innovative solutions to the problems in the Middle East, rather than asking the government to do it for us, we would be seen more as capable leaders rather than a party of polite suggestion, and if we can manage to do that, we will be far more likely to be hammering on the doors of power in the near future.



Supporting America isn’t Supporting Bush by georgeinwashington
May 25, 2007, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Iraq, US/UK relations

The President of the United States, George Bush has an approval rating in the low thirties and has done for a long time. This is the lowest level of support that a president has enjoyed since Nixon was impeached for corruption, and it was said that all this proved that you can fool 30% of the American people all the time. As a Brit who has lived in the US for the last year and indeed grown very fond of this country it seems to me increasingly strange that we should continue to frame our support for America in terms of supporting the policies of a man that very few Americans find agreeable.

This I believe has been one of the underlying flaws to Blair’s foreign policy, and it is not without its consequences. To many Americans, Blair is viewed as no better than Bush, which isn’t a good thing. Blair has projected the image of Britain abroad as one of subservient, and unimaginative, all too willing to act against our own interests for a photo opportunity with the US President. We have lost the respect we once had abroad as a leader in international relations. Even in the eyes of those we slavishly support.

The politicians in Britain need to understand that in this particular moment in History with America being lead by someone who is viewed by his own people as deficient and dangerous, we will not lose the support of Americans if we hold back our support of America.

To illustrate this point I will leave you with Jon Stuart of the Daily Show’s take on the farewell visit of Blair to Bush, well worth watching and can be found here: http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/index.jhtml?ml_video=87285



China and Iraq by georgeinwashington
April 15, 2007, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Iraq

If you follow the money financing the Iraq war, much of it originates in Beijing. However this is not a consequence of any complicity of the Chinese Government, but rather a byproduct of the current global economy. All the same time this leaves a surprisingly large amount of control of US policy in Chinese hands and in looking towards the end of US involvement in Iraq, we may be better off to look at the actions of China rather than developments in Washington. To explain why this is so we first need to take a look at how the US is financing its actions in Iraq.

When governments spend more than they can earn back in taxes they have to borrow the rest by issuing debt. This debt in the US comes in the form of US Treasury bonds. The latest estimates of the Congressional Budget Office are that the US Government will spend 260 billion dollars more than it earns this year. Most of this deficit is accounted for by spending on the Iraq War which recently reached 100 billion dollars a year. We know that the war is being debt financed because most of the spending comes from emergency appropriations, when the Department of Defense asks for money from Congress outside of the usual budget procedure.

At the same time the US currently has a huge trade deficit with China. This deficit is so large that container ships often come back empty from the US on their return journey to China. Currently China sells around 100 billion dollars more goods and services to the US than the US sells to it in return, and this difference is made up for in US dollars.

The Chinese have to do something with all of their accumulated dollars. And a large proportion of them go into buying US Treasury bonds. The Chinese now hold an incredibly large share of the US public debt with almost half of all US Treasury bonds being owned in Asia. This recycles the dollars that China receives back into the US economy, more specifically into the hands of the US Government. Furthermore this willingness on the part of the Chinese to buy T-bonds keeps debt cheap for the US Government.

Now suppose for a moment that China stopped buying US Treasury bonds. This would certainly not be implausible. The Chinese central bank has often talked about diversifying its foreign currency holdings into Euros and other currencies. With the absence of an important buyer of its debt, the US would either have to raise interest rates, raise taxes or cut spending. An increase in the interest rate would raise the return on bonds, making them more attractive to other potential buyers; raising taxes or cutting spending on the other hand means that less has to be borrowed.

As the US already faces a huge burden of repayment on its existing debt, and many predict a slowdown in the US economy this year, raising interest rates may not be possible. If taxes are increased, the public will inevitably start to ask questions as to why they are being expected to hand over their money to the Federal Government, and they might not like the answer. If this Government went to the American people to ask them for more money to fight the Iraq war, there is little chance that they would be willing to pay. A swift pull out from Iraq that would drastically cut US Government spending and with it the budget deficit, might be the only option left.

In Europe we often see Americans’ fear of the state and aversion to taxation with some perplexity. However in a state such as the US, which only provides for the most basic levels of public service, the majority of the government’s activities are necessarily occupied by defence. Americans know this and for them, like the British liberals of the eighteenth century, low taxation is seen as a means of keeping a violent state in check, making sure that if wars have to be fought then approval has to be sought from the purse of the public. However now it seems as though the large capacities of governments to run such deficits has long since made this check on government power obsolete. Now the power to dictate policy to the government lies not in its constituency but in the hands of its financierfor the US Government trying to pay for a war in Iraq, its financiers are in Beijing.