They are seated fraternally towards each other on a bench, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Allies” is the name of Lawrence Holofcener’s artwork on Bond Street in London’s Mayfair. The Anglo-American artist presented the warlords and allies of yesteryear with smiling faces. It is a romantic representation of the Special relationship, a sentence that comes from Churchill. There is not much left of the Anglo-Saxon brotherhood, if it had existed.
British politicians struggled last week to hide their distaste for Joe Biden’s performance in Afghanistan. In the House of Commons, Afghanistan veteran Tom Tugendhat called “shameless” that the US president blamed the Afghan army for the chaos. Former MP Rory Stewart, who is very familiar with Afghanistan’s past and present, called Biden’s post-Kabul speech “empty, devoid of empathy and naively pessimistic.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was partly responsible for the invasion of the Asian country, called the Democrats’ Afghan policies “foolish.” Boris Johnson and his ministers have refused to let Biden down, but behind the scenes they are said to be furious. Anonymous government officials questioned the White House resident’s mental condition, using colorful words such as gaga to madly would have fallen. Anti-Americanism is no longer exclusively leftist.
Boris Johnson begged Biden to stay longer on Afghan soil in order to complete the evacuation. At least 150 Britons are still in Kabul, as are thousands of Afghans who are entitled to British asylum. Biden ignored the call. In fact, for a long time he didn’t even answer the phone. It is clear to the British that Biden America first of its predecessor. With Donald Trump, however, it was Brittany second. The place of the British in the ranking of Biden is to be guessed.
For the British, it is like the loss of their best ally. On the island, the relationship between the two nations has always been compared to that between the Greeks and Romans, a comparison a classic like Johnson can certainly live with. The American go it alone in Afghanistan broke trust, the feeling that there was a special friendship. In this regard, it can be compared to Brexit, when there was sadness on the continent over the surprising departure of the British from the European Union.
Now that the UK is no longer the bridge between America and the rest of Europe, the search for another role has begun. Remnants such as former Secretary of State for European Affairs David Lidington have already argued for closer ties with European countries, such as the formation of a European branch of NATO. Brexiteers, on the other hand, prefer to look to other English-speaking countries, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as to the world’s largest democracy: India.
For New York-born Johnson, who has always been skeptical of the term sspecial relationship, it is now important to give substance to a new one: Global Britain. London realizes that it will never be able to fill the post of world policeman abandoned by Washington. The focus will be on international free trade, diplomacy and targeted military interventions (the latter being the successful intervention in Sierra Leone under Blair 21 years ago), in other words: a privileged link with the rest of the world .
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