BBC headlined the conclusion of American President’s state visit: “Donald Trump UK visit: All you need to know”. This makes one wonder how low can the media go. Need to know is the basis of operations for clandestine agencies. Journalism works with the premise that everyone must be able to know everything.
Hence the state visit of American President Donald Trump to the United Kingdom went a long way to illustrate journalism was no longer alive in England; or anywhere else for that matter. The BBC is financed by Her Majesty’s government and thus hardly a credible news source.
Their job is to obfuscate, confuse and mislead by pretending to tell the truth. So their obfuscation is not at all surprising. But what has been truly troubling is that this has become the norm for media everywhere.
The Trump state visit was obviously more important than all the previous ones from his predecessors. One reflection of this fact was that Prime Minister Theresa May gave him a copy of one of the most significant documents in their transatlantic “special relationship”.
The framed typescript draft of the 1941 Atlantic Charter, agreed by President Franklin D Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill setting out their vision for the post-war world is too powerful a symbol to miss for any observer.
The Atlantic Charter was “one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations”. The copy Theresa May presented to trump came from Churchill’s personal draft of August 12, 1941, with his amendments in red pencil. There were no further amendments made and Churchill kept the draft on his wall as a reminder.
It is worthwhile to reflect why Donald Trump was given such a historically significant gift.
Looking from afar, the Trump gift appears to have been very carefully chosen. The two countries together sustain the arbitrary nature of the obtaining multilateral system despite its departure from most of the original provisions.
The US Dollar remains the only reserve currency despite the Nixon Shock thanks to the UK keeping the oil trade firmly tied to what is now nothing more than a fictional currency. Hence, their partnership is deeper than mere trade interests would indicate.
The UK-USA Agreement (UKUSA) reflects that much better. The UKUSA is a multilateral agreement for intelligence cooperation between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
It is also known as the Five Eyes and it has its roots in the 1941 Atlantic Charter. Other countries that joined as “third parties” included the West Germany, the Philippines, and several Nordic countries in associate capacities. Hence it is a safe guess to make that a renewal of the UKUSA Agreement is now on the cards in the wake of America having fallen out with the European Union.
Then it is no secret the United Kingdom is one of the largest markets for US exports and one of the largest suppliers of US imports. In February, President Trump said he wanted to strike an ambitious trade agreement with the United Kingdom after it leaves the EU.
The US and the UK are two of the five largest economies in the world. Both stand to benefit greatly from expanded trade and economic cooperation. This is now critical for the UK in the wake of an impending Brexit. Yet not one newspaper or television channel or website did any in depth analysis of how Trump ensured Britain exits the EU asap.
As Trump went to England, his secretary of state Mike Pompeo flew to meet with European leaders. He was scheduled to visit Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. Switzerland handles US interests in Iran as the US has cut off all its diplomatic relations. Germany has refused to tow the US line with Huawei on its 5G infrastructure plans, and Iran.
The Netherlands is firmly in the US camp. France is sitting on the fence as the time bomb of the Italian debt continues to tick under its economic soft belly. One measure of EU desperation is the extension to the UK for Brexit till 31 October this year. So the mere mention of Brexit –not to speak of making a new trade deal contingent upon it—must ring alarm bells across the EU.
Germans are at the receiving end of American unilateralism for being the driving force in the European Union. The EU remains the only rival to total global domination by the United States of America. Trump has openly and repeatedly clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merke–often called the Queen of Germany and even the Empress of Europe—despite being close allies.
The US President has criticized Germany for its welcoming stance towards migrants, supposed trade imbalances, its tolerance of Huawei, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, and defense spending, among many other issues.
Germany, France and other European Union members have been very careful in voicing opposition and disapproval of Trump’s escalating war of words and sanctions with Iran after he unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
The leading European countries have wrought an alliance with Russia and China as the US appeared to be headed on an increasingly violent trajectory with Iran. This has in recent weeks forced Trump to backtrack and seek a slightly more conciliatory position with Iran.
Mike Pompeo reiterated the White House’s stance on a US-UK trade deal in an interview with NBC’s Euronews in the Hague in Netherlands. He regarded it as a priority–but declined to say whether Washington will look to do a deal with the EU or the UK first.
“We’ve got to see how Brexit proceeds and how that timing goes.” Yet he made it very much clear there is going to be no trade deal with the UK before Brexit becomes a reality. “Yes, we will. When Brexit is completed, as the people of the United Kingdom have demanded, we do intend to work on a free trade agreement with them.” Interestingly, he proved himself a fit (read arbitrary) team member in the Trump team, while responding to the order in which the US would approach negotiations over deals with the EU and with the UK, Pompeo said: “I have no idea what the sequence will be”!
At the Buckingham Palace state banquet for Trump by the Queen, he said: “This week, we commemorate a mighty endeavour of righteous nations and one of the greatest undertakings in all of history.”
He also said, “A strong and independent United Kingdom, like a strong and independent United States, is truly a blessing on the world.” He added, “[the] longstanding relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is essential to our shared security and prosperity.”
His remarks can also be interpreted as a coded reference to Brexit, of which he is a supporter when he told the Queen: “The courage of the United Kingdom’s sons and daughters [during the second world war] ensured that your destiny would always remain in your own hands.” To make sure no one fails to get the message, minutes later, the White House tweeted that Trump wanted to see the process of the UK leaving the EU completed.
It does carry a lot of weight that The United Kingdom is one of the largest markets for U.S. exports and one of the largest suppliers of U.S. imports. In February, President Trump outlined his negotiating objectives to strike an ambitious trade agreement with the United Kingdom after it leaves the EU.As two of the top five largest economies in the world, the United States and the United Kingdom stand to benefit greatly from expanded trade and economic cooperation.
In 2018, the United States and the United Kingdom had more than $260 billion in two-way trade in goods and services. And at nearly US$1.3 trillion, the US and the UK share one of the world’s largest bilateral foreign direct investment partnerships.
In her speech, the Queen spoke of the “new challenges” the US and the UK face in the 21st century, and stressed the bonds between the two countries. “As we face the new challenges of the 21st century, the anniversary of D-day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together. After the shared sacrifices of the second world war, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated. While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard-won peace”, she said.
The Queen also mentioned the US and UK’s “strong cultural links and shared heritage” and said the two nations were “bound by the strength and breadth of economic ties”. She said: “Mr President, as we look to the future, I am confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us. Tonight we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come.
She finished by inviting the room to raise a toast to the “continued friendship between our two nations, and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States”.
There is no hiding the fact how Trump has destroyed the international rules-based order on which the “Global Britain” recent UK government strategy has been based. The US has systematically undermined the World Trade Organization and has destroyed the multilateral agreements like the climate change agreement; the nuclear proliferation deal with Iran and the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
Trump administration has shredded all of these. Hence it is safe to observe that UKUSA is busy sorting out more than bilateral trade deal. Trump’s crude mercantilism—based on bilateral trade balances—cannot suit the UK with a trade surplus.
Yet, the Queen seems to be enamoured by Trump. We will need to look below the surface reality to understand the way the UK and USA are planning to change the world for their benefit in the days to come.
To be continued…
Khalid Hussain is Resident Editor of TLTP – You may contact Khalid Hussain at Resident.Editor@tltpnews.com.pk
The Law Today Pakistan, commonly known as TLTP, is the largest news wire service, headquartered in Islamabad. The service is providing fast, comprehensive and verified news on superior courts adjudications, regulatory framework of fiscal, monitory and external sectors, economic regulatory bodies amid apex institutions regulating the financial system. TLTP is empowering readers of more than 12 national English dailies in the country.