The blood of British soldiers must not be spilled in vain

Share
Related Topics

George Bush was not our choice as President of the United States for the next four years, and it was not ours to make, but the American people have spoken, and in record numbers. This newspaper has never taken the view that Mr Bush is a brainless cowboy, the puppet of sinister vested interests. We accept that he is a leader with what he sees as the interests of his country and the world at heart. To that extent at least we agree with Tony Blair that America's friends have an obligation to engage with the Bush administration.

George Bush was not our choice as President of the United States for the next four years, and it was not ours to make, but the American people have spoken, and in record numbers. This newspaper has never taken the view that Mr Bush is a brainless cowboy, the puppet of sinister vested interests. We accept that he is a leader with what he sees as the interests of his country and the world at heart. To that extent at least we agree with Tony Blair that America's friends have an obligation to engage with the Bush administration.

We do not share the Prime Minister's blithe optimism, however, that the best way to influence this president is to offer unconditional support and hope that he, recognising an unwritten code of honour among great men, will return it with interest. It is true that, from Bush Mk I, Mr Blair secured two important concessions for the "blood price" that he was prepared to pay. First, Mr Bush agreed to take his case for military action in Iraq to the United Nations; second, he agreed, on the eve of war, to publish the "road-map" to a two-state settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Sadly, neither gesture came to anything.

Nor can we assume that Bush Mk II will be more amenable to Mr Blair's persuasions than his first-term incarnation. Mr Blair's injunction to his European colleagues to come to terms with the "new reality" of Mr Bush's second term sounded rather like a plea for them to admit defeat and accept the old reality of the Republican worldview. We would turn Mr Blair's words round and plead with him to "understand" the "reality" that, as Menzies Campbell argues on the opposite page, America's allies need to make their support conditional on getting something in return.

In that context, praise for Mr Blair's urgency in seeking to press the issues of Middle East peace and climate change on the new administration must be qualified by a "new realism". On the one hand, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Yasser Arafat's withdrawal from Ramallah offer the hope of progress. On the other, we have been here before, and there must be real doubts about whether Mr Bush, unlike his father, will ever put meaningful economic pressure on the Israeli government. Or that he even recognises quite how important a settlement would be in ameliorating the damage done to relations between Muslim countries and the West by the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

It is not enough for Mr Blair simply to hope that the President, now freed from the constraints of US electoral arithmetic, will change his policy on the Middle East for the sake of making his mark on history. We will have to wait to see the make-up of Mr Bush's new cabinet before we have any tangible sign, but it is just as likely that he will move further to the right in his second term as that he intends to move back towards the centre.

Mr Blair ought to make clear, as he has so far failed to do either in public or in private, that there is no point in a special relationship that goes only one way. It is time for some straight talking. As British soldiers give their lives to support the US in Iraq, with the prospect of more casualties to come, the Prime Minister is entitled to insist on getting something back for his unstinting support over the past four years.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
Jeremy Corbyn addresses over a thousand supporters at Middlesbrough Town Hall on August 18, 2015  

Thank God we have the right-wing press to tell us what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn as PM would be

Mark Steel
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future