In an interview with the Sunday Times, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said his country should prepare to wage wars without the backing of the United States, as it may cease being a world leader. "I worry if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world. That would be bad for the world and bad for us. We plan for the worst and hope for the best," Wallace said.
The Secretary pointed out that the UK is highly dependent on the military support of the United States, in particular, on the American air cover, intelligence and tracking means, and that time has come for London to stray from this practice. Our armed forces should no longer rely on the United States, its air cover and reconnaissance aircraft in future conflicts, the head of the British Defense Ministry concluded. Wallace also expressed hope that Britain, like Russia and France, would take a more active stance in promoting its interests in the future, both by means of diplomacy and the army.
These words of disappointment from the British Defense Secretary came after the United States withdrew its troops from Syria last year without warning its NATO allies, including Britain. Moreover, a short while ago, US President Donald Trump made an ambitious statement on Iraq, urging the North Atlantic Alliance to replace the Americans and assume a greater role in the Middle East. "The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be," Wallace added.
It should be noted that for the time being, the United Kingdom adheres to the military doctrine of 2010, in compliance with which Britain will always fight along with the Americans, and they, in turn, will protect them from external aggression. Apparently, it is high time for official London to reconsider this doctrine and realize that the United States is no longer going to act as a defender of the UK under Article 5 of the NATO Charter. Under President Trump, who toughly adheres to the slogan "America first" as a matter of actual practice, the interests of his own country have long "outweighed" all the arguments in support of other states, even NATO allies.
By the way, it is instructive to recall last year's interview of the British newspaper The Guardian with the French Ambassador in Washington Gérard Araud on the eve of his retirement. The French diplomat was then outspokenly critical of Trump and his administration. "When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone," Araud said. " Basically, this president and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really [about] bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defense of narrow American interest." The Frenchman complained that the current US authorities "treat Europeans the way they treat the Chinese."
Unfortunately for Britain, London, judging by statements by Defense Secretary Wallace, has not come to realize this until now, after the three-year-presidency of the current head of the White House. Although Washington and London still assert the two countries' "special relations", the latter have essentially long lost their "special" character and are no different from those the US and Great Britain have with other states.
It is no coincidence that not so long ago The New York Times wrote that under the external tinsel, ties between Britain and the United States have been weakening for some time, while recalling differences, for instance, on the Iranian nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement and "Trump's attacks on NATO allies". Echoing the American newspaper, The Guardian points out that on many major foreign policy issues, London sides up with the French, not Uncle Sam.
So if something happens to the UK, Washington is unlikely to come to London's aid. In this regard, instead of shouting at all cross-roads about the alleged threat from Russia, it is now time for Britain to reinterpret its defense strategy and rely on its own forces, not on the United States. Especially given that the United Kingdom will soon leave the European Union (Brexit) and its ties with European NATO allies and trading partners in the Old World will get substantially weaker. Moreover, the North Atlantic Alliance itself is already tired of constant pressure coming from Washington, which has only increased under President Trump. And inside the belly of the EU, there are numerous calls to think long and hard about creating a joint armed force to protect Europe and thus become less dependent on the United States in this matter.
Those on the British Isles who are obsessed with the so-called "hand of Moscow" should recall that it may be simply unprofitable for the British to blame Russia for everything. After all, if something happens, there will be no place to borrow money, as things go nowadays. They left the EU; addressing the IMF is shameful; relations with the US are not that perfect today; and on top of that the country itself is up to the ears in debt. So, among the potential landmark creditors there are virtually only the Arab sheikhs, China and Russia. And money, as experts harmoniously predict, will be certainly needed in London after Brexit. A fair amount of money.
Should we expect a further cooling of relations between the US and the UK? It is difficult to give a clear-cut answer to this question with full confidence. Anything is possible. British conservatism may not stand up to American insolence and sharp power, while Trump himself may run out of patience over London's various antics. He can easily impose sanctions against Britain, as he does with the EU, or take another incautious step. So let's wait to see what the future shows...