David Cameron, Britain’s new PM, has apparently learned little from Barack Obama’s experience. He is undertaking his own international humiliation tour in hope of reaping economic benefits. It is difficult to believe that this is making the Brits feel proud. Already, Simon Tisdal of the Guardian call’s him Obama’s useful idiot
It began in the US where Cameron was treated as little more than a BP apologist.
David Cameron stepped off the Amtrak train at Penn Station this week to a traditional New York welcome from Mayor Mike Bloomberg: a hot dog from a street vendor. Just off camera was a less welcome sight for Britain’s prime minister, in the form of a stand selling the New York Daily News. The tabloid, less than impressed by Mr Cameron’s attempts to defend BP in the US, headed its front page simply: “British Bull”.BP has been in political trouble in the US since oil started gushing from its well in the Gulf of Mexico in April. But on a visit intended to seal his promising relationship with President Barack Obama, Mr Cameron endured a gruelling two days defending the oil company and trying to explain why the group, in spite of having lobbied the previous government to speed up a deal on a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, was not responsible for the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, from a Scottish jail last year.
He, then, proceeded to Turkey in the hope of doubling U.K. trade with Turkey, to $18 billion annually, by 2015. To achieve his goal he viciously attacked Israel by calling Gaza, a prison camp. Not only is it clear that Cameron know nothing about the reality of prison camps but, as Israelis immediately pointed out, if Gaza is a prison camp, Hamas terrorist seen training below, not Israel, are the prison guards.
Then, Cameron took on his fellow EU members for not being welcoming enough to increasingly Islamist Turkey as real Islam is fully compatible with European values. Of course, some are already asking Who is David Cameron to say what real Islam is, and, consequently to recommend that Ahmadinejad’s protector have a greater say in internal EU affairs.
Martin Peretz is wrong to worry that Cameron raises false hopes for Turley’s EU bid, the Turks have no such hopes. That does not mean that they do not enjoy milking Western discomfort with that reality for all its worth especially as it helps them continue to play with impunity the double game Peretz describes so well:
The fact is that Turkish membership in the EU would be tantamount to European approval and support for the values of Turkish society. It once was that Turkey was in dissent from Islamic orthodoxies. This and its antagonism to the Soviet Union — or the antagonism of the Soviet Union to it — were credentials enough for membership in NATO, a membership it has held for half a century. But Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan today represents an altogether different constellation of philosophical values and strategic commitments. He has made himself Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s emissary to the world. This is a shameful role for any political leader. As is his deputisation of himself to Hamas and the Syrian dictatorship.At the core of Erdogan’s redeployment of his country on the map of contemporary politics lies his shift from being a pragmatic ally of Israel to being an eager comrade of virtually all the madmen of Islam.
This is of some significance to Israel. But it is more salient to the Western democracies, of which most important are the US and Britain, whose troops are fighting an almost unmapped battle in Afghanistan.
Roughly 1500 Turkish troops are also deployed against the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. This is emblematic of a two-faced policy, one descending, the other in the ascendancy. Turkey receives secret information from the Americans and the Brits. It also shares this with its Muslim allies, including elements among the Taliban and the intrinsically fissiparous officer corps in Pakistan.
Now, he is in India with the largest delegation since 1947 seeking to increase Indian job creation in Britain regardless of European plans to scale back Indian migration to the Union decrease outsourcing. His listening tour led to accusation that he is already going native has already been noted and snickered at:
somehow the prime minister was willing to sit there on Indian television yesterday and listen to demands that the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond be wrenched from the Monarch’s most spectacular crown and handed to the modern state of India. . . .Indeed, if Cameron had been up on British history when that demand about the Koh-i-Noor was made on Indian television, he could have countered that he would rather more expect the demand to come from Pakistan. The defeated maharajah from whom the diamond was taken was a Muslim ruler in what is now part of Pakistan. It is likely that the then Maharajah of Lahore got it the same way the British did: he seized it, fair and square. ‘If New Delhi is eager for the diamond to go back to its historic home,’ the prime minister should have purred, ‘would the Indian government like us to begin negotiations with the Pakistani government?’
But more, Cameron missed another trick. While some of the Indians were bleating about how Britain should feel guilty about its colonial legacy — the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi has said the diamond should be handed back as ‘atonement for the colonial past’ — he should have pointed out that it was only the British presence that ended the Muslim’s Mughal empire and ensured that today India is free to be Hindu, ‘but, hey, no need to say thanks.’
Kow towing does not to real power translate and the developing world has little respect for Britain though former colonies most certainly enjoy watching aristocratic Cameron crawl. For India eyes an American special relationship explains Pratap Bhanu Mehta (the president of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi):
The Indian government will be too polite to say it, but there is a lot of (perhaps premature) condescension in India towards Britain’s shrinking role in the world. Where once Britain educated India’s ruling classes, now most head to the US. The economist Amartya Sen’s move from Harvard to become Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was described in India as a move from a powerhouse to a museum. In subtle ways Indians are constantly comparing the ability of the US to cut imaginative deals that benefit India directly with that of other nations. And on the quiet, the dynamism of their new relationship with the Americans has inspired hope in many Indians that they may come to replace the United Kingdom as the US’s special ally among the world’s democracies. . . .But Cameron’s visit comes at a time when both nations are trying to redefine their position in the world order. India has a sense of itself as a rising power. Britain is undergoing a moment of introspection, in the wake of its fiscal crisis. Underneath lie two differing conceptions of globalisation that make an Anglo-Indian partnership less likely.
Britain wants an open global economy to allow it to export the services in which it is most competitive. But, as in the past, India will open up its economy at its own speed, and largely on its own terms. There is little appetite in Delhi to open its finance, banking, insurance or retail sectors further, all areas in which British exports could prosper.
To get on India’s good side, Cameron noted in Delhi that Pakistan (like Turkey) is playing a double game. He said: “We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world.” True. But India is not the place to assert it. In other words, all Cameron’s self abasement tour has succeeded doing is alienating Britain’s traditional allies. Sounds like Obama’s apology tour, doesn’t it?!