Tuesday 16 May 2023

Sir Simon McDonald thinks Great Britain's only option is to be close to the US. Why don't the British be isolationists, enemies with no-one except the IRA, terrorists, people smugglers and illegal immigrants?

Sir Simon McDonald, former Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, is the man who said Boris Johnson was lying about the aptly named Chris Pincher and therefore triggered Boris's fall. 

According to Boris Johnson 's biographer Tom Bower, he tried to undermine Boris when he was Foreign Secretary, a job Theresa May had given him to destroy him. Now he is Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. 

Interviewed by the New Statesman, he says that having left the EU, “our strategic choice has boiled down to one country”... “we don’t want to become China’s chief partner in Europe”...“getting together with Australia, Canada and New Zealand is nice, and we can agree violently on everything, but it’s not going to make the international weather”.

He believes Britain has no business sending aircraft carriers halfway across the world in a bid to be a player in the Indo-Pacific. He's right, of course, but he does not see that Britain can be isolationist, can trade with every country and not get involved in conflicts with any. 

Britain is right to impose sanctions against Russia but let's not have sanctions please against any other country, no interference in the Middle East or, save the mark, the Far East. 

Why in God's name do we have sanctions against Syria or Afghanistan, two countries in which our interests are in no way involved and yet which we illegally invaded?

Quoting from the interview.

Could the West have prevented the war in Ukraine? McDonald attended the Bucharest summit in 2008 at which Nato membership action plans were drawn up, at US insistence, for Ukraine and Georgia. McDonald sympathises with the German chancellor Angela Merkel’s rejection of those plans. Russia would have viewed Ukraine’s inclusion in Nato as a hostile act, “so where was the forward defence? Where were the divisions that were going to make this a reality?” America was stretched fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the UK – to McDonald’s point – could not act alone. “Nobody had the resources.”

Britain itself was caught up in the US’s wars. “So many people died,” McDonald reflected of the war in Iraq. “For what purpose?” Britain, he believes, waged war at vast expense for “no benefit”. As an official, McDonald put together a paper for the incoming prime minister in 2010 on Afghanistan, recommending a move towards withdrawal. The UK did not withdraw until 2021. “I don’t believe anything extra was achieved by prolonging our stay.”

The interviewer says that Tom Tugendhat, the most dreadful of all the candidates for the Tory leadership (and all of them were dreadful), 'once quipped to me that pessimists of British power think the UK should “fall back and guard Dover”. He said it in jest, but the quip seemed almost apt as a description of McDonald’s defence policy.' I think this is an excellent policy. 

McDonald believes climate change is a big threat, which makes me doubt his intellectual powers. Not a first rate mind, as we Cambridge men say. “Our scientists and researchers will be as important as our generals.” In fact migration is the only defence threat Britain faces and it's a very big threat indeed.

Britain, he says, should not “make an enemy of China”. About this he is very right.
For now McDonald is confident that the US itself will not go to war with China. He thinks that its security leaders, such as Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, and Bill Burns, the director of the CIA, know that would be “a strategic disaster” – although, he pointed out as I left, “Bill Burns is not going to be there forever”

In other words, he thinks the Americans are capable of provoking a war with China. Unfortunately he is right.

Please let us not follow America into further cold wars or hot wars and leave America and the EU to do as they please. 

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