We stood with the US on its darkest days – Joe Biden forgets that
THE Special Relationship between Britain and America has been one of the most important alliances in history. Together we defeated the Kaiser’s Germany. Together we defeated Adolf Hitler.
Together, under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, we defeated the Soviet Union without having to fire a shot.
Let alone have a nuclear exchange.
Not many partnerships in history can claim such a list of successes.
But now that relationship looks very rocky indeed.
In recent decades, British Prime Ministers have known their principal job on the diplomatic stage is to stick close to America. For good or ill, Tony Blair did that, buddying up to Bill Clinton then George W. Bush.
His successor, David Cameron, likewise kept Britain as an indispensable ally of the US.
Under President Biden, this is looking very different.
He came into office claiming things would be different under him.
He pretended Donald Trump had abandoned America’s allies. A popular talking point among the international Left.
In fact, Trump had been a tough actor as well as a tough talker on the world stage.
For all his flaws, over four years he held to his election promise not to take America into any new wars. To the extent he was tough on his allies, it was by demanding America’s Nato part-ners pay their fair share for being part of the military alli-ance. Every recent US President had asked the same. Trump simply showed he meant it.
Still, Biden came into office insisting Trump had disrespected America’s allies. He claimed that under him America would be back on the world stage.
He could hardly have been more wrong. As the recent scenes from Afghanistan show, America has never looked weaker. The White House is reduced to relying on the Taliban’s good word to get the remaining US citizens out.
Though it is Afghanistan that has been abandoned first and foremost, America’s allies, including Britain, have been left in the cold too.
It is now clear Biden did not even seek Britain’s advice ahead of the pull-out. That is a disgrace.
We only went into Afghanistan to support our US allies after they had been attacked on 9/11.
Nato’s Article 5 has a “one for all, all for one” clause. We stuck to our word. We did more than our bit in standing beside America in its hour of need. Over 450 British servicemen and women paid for this alliance with their lives. Many hundreds more have been left with life-changing injuries.
It would have been good of Joe Biden to keep this sacrifice in mind. But he didn’t. At the end of the Afghan day, he forgot all about it. When he did finally speak to Britain, he made it worse by ignoring us still.
This week, the UK and EU leaders asked Biden to try to extend the date for the pull-out from Kabul airport. Britain and the EU cannot hold the airport alone if we still need more time to get people out after the end of this month. Biden ignored this.
It was bad enough that he spoke to his allies only after the decision had been taken. Even worse that he then ignored everything they had to say.
Now our Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is desperate for other options. One idea, floated among EU leaders, is that Kabul airport could be transferred to Turkey to run as a civilian airport.
It is a disgrace that, after 20 years, America is leaving Afghanistan in this messy hurry. It is an additional disgrace that, in doing so, the US has decided to ignore Britain.
Earlier this week, Tony Blair intervened in the Afghan debate. He described the US withdrawal as “imbecilic”. Which the manner of it most certainly is.
Biden’s press secretary was asked about the Blair comment. And what did she have to say? “The President has been in touch directly with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the current leader of the UK.”
I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. Grateful this White House knows who is in No10. Grateful Biden should pick up the phone and speak to his country’s most loyal ally. After the fact.
We have been treated with the shabbiest indifference by the US.
We have stood along-side America for decades. In particular, we stood by them through the post-9/11 period. Whatever your view on those wars, it is beyond belief that, at the end of it, America is indifferent to our views.
This is the biggest test of US-UK relations for over 60 years. The Special Relationship may recover under another US president.
But under this one, it has never looked in worse shape.
Covid's hell of a drag
THE full costs of the Covid lockdowns keep coming in.
It may be that they saved some lives. But they will also have dramatically shortened others.
Last month, we learned there had been a huge surge in alcohol-related deaths during the first lockdown.
This week, it turns out the number of smokers aged 18 to 34 increased 25 per cent during the same period, up 652,000.
There are lots of reasons given for this, including that young people were bored.
Of course, these young people still have time to quit without destroying their health for good.
But this should be a reminder that lockdowns have hidden costs.
Some of which we won’t see for years to come.
Just one reminder of why this can never happen again.
Mismatch of the day is that outfit of yours, Mr Grealish
WHY do people who have such a good eye for the ball have such a bad eye for clothes? It’s a mystery.
You won’t find a better midfielder than Jack Grealish. But nor will you find a worse outfit than what he wore on a recent night out in Manchester.
The Manchester City star’s outfit – or costume – looked like it had been put together by a madman.
The lower part alone looked like a pre-schooler’s playtime project had been accidentally picked up and printed on to trousers.
One of his companions, Love Island´s Ellie Brown, reportedly couldn´t take her eyes off him. But it’s possible she was just trying to work out what he was wearing.
To be fair, Grealish is not the first footballer to suffer a fashion disaster.
From Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne, to more recent guilty men like Gareth Bale, being a top-whack footballer seems to go hand-in-hand with a bizarre fashion sense.
Perhaps it’s all the money. Or being surrounded by too many yes-men and women. In any case, they should never stop. Someone has to make the nation laugh.
Bring on the olives
TRADITIONAL pub snacks are at risk of becoming extinct, it was reported this week.
People are shunning old favourites for trendy new options.
Out go the jars of pickled eggs. Coming in are such delicacies as halloumi fries and olives.
There will be those who will see this as a tragic blow to the British boozer. But pubs will have to do a lot to entice people back.
If they can offer a good range of food, that’s good for both customers and pubs, because more people will come in.
I always disliked those huge jars of stale eggs, wizened by age, untouched by human hands and staying in the same place year after year. I happen to like most traditions. But the pickled egg is one I won’t be going to the wall for.
A sad offer by Jeff
AMAZON is offering a £1,000 golden hello to new warehouse workers.
Suffering from a staff shortfall, the online giant is hoping this will get people signing up.
But they should think twice before accepting the lucrative offer. Amazon is one of the world’s worst employers.
Its entire structure has been set up to make the largest amount of money possible for the people at the top of the business.
Which is why its founder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world. His staff have had to pay the cost.
Working at Amazon is notorious for the sweatshop-like conditions.
Staff have been reported to work 14-hour days and be forced to go without bathroom breaks.
There have even been reports of warehouse workers peeing in bottles to save having to make a bathroom trip and lose those precious seconds.
Amazon has always been convenient for customers. It has been a disaster for the high streets of this country.
In a previous era, it would never have been allowed to become the monopoly it has. There are things to be said for and against the company.
But if Amazon really wanted to make itself attractive to new staff, it would offer more than £1,000. It might even show it’s learned how to treat employees like human beings.
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