Monday, May 21, 2007

Whistling Past The Graveyard

On the heels of Tony Blair's visit to America last week, the final one before he turns the reins over to Gordon Brown, current Chancellor of the Exchequer, comes this little item:
LONDON (Reuters) - Washington is confident British prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown will not pull British troops out of Iraq early, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told reporters Washington had an "excellent level of discussion and dialogue" with the British government on future policy in Iraq.
Key word there is "early". Blair has already announced the departure of British troops, as early as this summer, reducing British presence below 5,000 troops, which may (or may not) remain until 2008.

Anybody think Gordon Brown is about to speed that timetable up? I don't. I do, however, see him making even deeper cuts in troop levels(h/t, again, Mr. Doggity), particularly in light of the recent flare-ups in the Basra region, which has been the focus of British patrols. These flare-ups seem to have been in anticipation of the now-aborted arrival of Prince Harry.

Brown appears to be slightly less enthused with the EU than Blair, however, as he insisted England remain on the pound, as opposed to swapping over to the Euro. This seems to have been a clever move on his part. The pound has thrived beyond what the Euro has risen to on world markets. Kicking and screaming, tho, England will have to convert, I imagine.

The overarching question for Americans is, will Brown be as big a poodle as Blair?

Answer: probably not. (h/t Mr. Doggity, who really should start blogging...) Although the argument can be made that Brown will respect Blair's commitment to the war (and one suspects that Blair has declared the troop withdrawal to give Brown cover to go beyond his pronouncement), it's clear that Brown is his own man.
Gordon Brown is prepared to risk the future of the "special relationship" with the United States by reversing Tony Blair's support for the Iraq war, President George W Bush has been warned.

He has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement on British troop withdrawals from Mr Brown during his first 100 days in power. It would be designed to boost the new prime minister's popularity in the opinion polls.

Details of the talks came as a close ally of Mr Brown called for a quicker withdrawal of British troops. Nigel Griffiths, a former minister, said: "We should get out of Iraq as soon as is practicable. We should consult the Iraqi government - but they cannot have a veto. This cannot be delayed."
One can only hope that Brown will take a page from another "prime minister":
I love that word "relationship". Covers all manner of sins, doesn't it? I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to, erm... Britain. We may be a small country but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that. And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that.