Don’t be poodle to America: British MPs tell government

March 28th, 2010 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 28 (IANS) British MPs want their government to stop being a “subservient poodle” to America all the time, saying the days of a ’special relationship’ are over.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of Britain’s lower house of parliament says it is time Britain re-examined Anglo-US relationship in the light of issues where they may differ, including reports that US secret agents have used British military bases for extraordinary rendition.

“The perception that the British government was a subservient poodle to the US administration is widespread both among the British public and overseas,” the committee says in a report.

“This perception, whatever its relation to reality, is deeply damaging to the reputation and interests of the UK.”

The MPs add: “Over the longer term, the UK is unlikely to be able to influence the US to the extent it has in the past.”

The report comes amid increasing questions being asked in Britain about its 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the continuing cost - in terms of soldiers’ lives as well as finances - in the war in Afghanistan.

More than 250 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001 - a figure that is now higher than the casualties suffered in the 1982 war over the Falkland Islands with Argentina.

The MPs’ report says Britain should take a “hard-headed” approach to Anglo-American special relationship - a term coined by Winston Churchill in 1946 - and stop assuming that the priorities of the two nations will always coincide.

“The UK needs to be less deferential and more willing to say no to the US on those issues where the two countries’ interests and values diverge,” the report says.

Mike Gapes, the chairman of the committee, said British and European politicians have been “guilty of over-optimism about the extent of influence they have over the US”.

The committee was told during its hearings that it was “unsurprising” that Barack Obama - the first US president without a British ancestor from either side - did not have “sentimental reflexes” towards Britain.

The report criticizes the CIA’s use of the British Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia for extraordinary rendition - the extrajudicial transfer of prisoners from one country to another for interrogations and, reportedly, torture.

“The issue relating to rendition through Diego Garcia to which we have previously drawn attention raise disturbing questions about the uses to which US bases on British territory are put,” it says.

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