As Washington’s military-industrial octopus continues to thrive, and US troops and nuclear-armed aircraft and submarines and aircraft carrier groups are tentacled ever further, deeper and higher round the world, there has been an unpleasant upset between London and Washington. This resulted in even more grovelling to the US by the likely next prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson.
The basics of the story are simple, in that there was a leak of communications from the British ambassador in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, to the Foreign Office in London. In these he referred to Trump in less than flattering terms and was as perceptive in his observations as might be expected from an experienced and most civilised diplomat.
An inquiry was begun into how the leak came about, and the Daily Mail informed its readers that “the Foreign Office is considering whether Russia hacked Sir Kim to unveil messages that would ‘cause maximum embarrassment and harm’ to officials on both sides of the pond. They believe hackers could have launched a cyber attack to obtain files and damage UK-US relations.”
Sure, the Mail is a celeb-obsessed, rabble-rousing, semi-porno rag, but that’s why it is read by a daily million people. The leak was published initially in The Mail on Sunday, but the trouble for these papers, and their stablemate UK tripe-trotters the Sun and Mirror and so forth, is that they are now caught between their desire to rubbish and condemn honourable professionals like Sir Kim Darroch, their need to find a suitable leak culprit (the Russia absurdity was impossible to pursue), and their anxiety to support somebody who is popular with their readers.
One of the more asinine Mail columnists went so far as to attack Sir Kim himself, as if that were justification for Trump’s determination to insult a distinguished diplomat and vilify the country he represented. The commentator, called Littlejohn, sneered at Sir Kim because he lives “at taxpayers’ expense in one of the most luxurious embassies in Washington,” which is one of the most pathetic ways of attacking public figures serving their nation with the dignity and dedication that dregs such as Littlejohn could not even approach.
Which brings us back to Boris Johnson, who is himself a weekly columnist, paid £275,000/$345,000 a year by the Daily Telegraph. He is devoid of common-sense and decorum, and, as observed by Sam Knight of the New Yorker in June, his two year term as Foreign Secretary “was punctuated by moments of idiocy” while a BBC documentary shown last November “captured Johnson as a distracted, agenda-free buffoon.” He’s obviously the right person to be prime minister of the United Kingdom.
In no manner was his idiocy made clearer than by his recent treatment of Ambassador Darroch, because he does not understand that in the military and the civil service there is a long-standing tradition of Loyalty. No matter what subordinates may do or fail to do, their superior officers back them to the hilt in public. In private, of course, there can be ferocious disciplinary action — but the world must be made aware that the very backbone, the ultimate essence of the entire system of public service rests on the principle of loyalty, up, down and sideways, for without it, nothing can ever be achieved.
And Boris Johnson, by his refusal to support Sir Kim Darroch, has shown that he is unfit to hold any government position. But he is going to be prime minister of the United Kingdom because his electorate are 160,000 Conservative Party members who support Johnson as their sort of man: a disloyal “distracted, agenda-free buffoon.”
The reason Johnson was so disloyal to a distinguished diplomat is that he wishes to curry favour with Trump, the man whose ability was accurately described by Sir Kim Darroch in his observation that “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”
This sparked fury in the dysfunctional Trump who reacted by disparaging Darroch as “not liked or well thought of . . .” and the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey reported him as tweeting “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.” In another tweet he added “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not well liked or well thought of within the US. We will no longer deal with him.”
As usual, when placed in an awkward situation, Trump had told lies, and Josh Dawsey noted that far from “not knowing” the ambassador, he had “sat across from Darroch during the annual St. Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill in March, inquiring about Brexit and bragging of his strong political standing. Trump interacted with Darroch on a number of occasions in London and Washington.” We are drawn to the sorry conclusion that if the current President of the United States told us the time of day while a clock was striking we would be well-advised to listen to the number of chimes to judge if he was lying or being truthful.
Johnson has many character deficiencies in common with Trump, having the morals of a roving alley-cat on testosterone, and as versified by a former journalist colleague, “Boris told such dreadful lies / It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.” And the eyes stretch further when one considers that he didn’t offer even token criticism of the President’s tweets insulting Britain and its ambassador. Last year Johnson declared he was “increasingly admiring” of Trump, which sentiment was reciprocated by Trump’s glowing statement that “I think Boris would do a very good job [as prime minister]. I think he would be excellent. I like him. I have always liked him… I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person” and “very positive about me and our country”.
This love-fest will continue just for so long as Britain bows the colonial knee to its overlord, but the moment the Whitehall warriors appear to be seeking in independent path, there will be an end to “increasing admiration” and a Trumpian tweet series of poisonous malignity.
In the Persian Gulf on July 3 three small Iranian patrol boats sailed near an oil tanker, the British Heritage. There was panic over-reaction, but what was not widely-reported was that “media briefing about British Heritage, and the intervention by HMS Montrose, which warded off the Iranian boats by aiming its guns at them, came originally from the US, and not the Ministry of Defence.”
Think about this. The operational deployment (albeit totally unnecessary) of a major British warship was notified to the world by Washington and not London. That’s where the so-called “special relationship” is placed in perspective.
Britain is on the verge of a disastrous withdrawal from the European Union and desperately seeking trade partners. The President of the United States says he is concerned about the Brexit debacle and on July 9 tweeted that “The wacky ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled. I told her how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way – was unable to get it done. A disaster! I don’t know the ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best economy and military anywhere in the world, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger.”
Keep bowing, Johnson Britain, or Trump will cut you off at the knees. The United Kingdom is plunging from soap opera to dope opera.