PRIME MINISTER Brown showed yesterday, at his joint press conference with President Bush, that such is the historic decline and collapse of the power of British imperialism, that he cannot even equivocate, never mind say no, even to the failed outgoing president of the United States, whose two terms as president have been reckoned as a disaster, even for US imperialism.
Before he even met Brown, Bush had signalled from Paris that the British prime minister would have to give up any idea that there could be a timetable for a British withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year.
In an interview with the Observer, he spelt out: ‘There could be no definitive timetable’ for a withdrawal from Iraq, and that a return home by US and UK troops ‘would be based upon success’.
In fact, the doctrine of the British army that emerged out of the Iraq debacle was the exact opposite. This was that Britain could not fight a war on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that British troops would have to be transferred from Iraq so that the UK could concentrate on a struggle ‘that it could win’ in Afghanistan.
For that reason they negotiated a ceasefire with the Mahdi Army in Basra and retired to barracks at Basra airport awaiting transport to Afghanistan.
Yesterday Brown was an instant convert to the US point of view, telling the joint press conference: ‘It is not a question of moving British troops from Iraq to Afghanistan as there is a job to do in both: You can’t trade numbers between the two countries.’
Brown, will now have to convince the British general staff that this is the case and that withdrawal from Iraq will take place only with ‘success’, and that it is more than possible that such a ‘success’ may well require a reinforcement of the British troops in that country.
Brown, after conceding without a murmur of dissent, that British troops will be in Iraq far longer than the end of this year, volunteered that the Defence Minister would be announcing later yesterday that hundreds more British troops are to be sent to Afghanistan.
He also echoed Bush’s spleen against Iran and added his own touch of vindictiveness.
He announced that Britain will be urging the EU to impose more sanctions against Iran, and that the UK was intending to take this course.
Brown said ‘our message to the Iranian people is that you do not have to choose the path of confrontation.’
He added: ‘The latest rounds of talks with the Iranians took place over the weekend.
‘Once again we put our enhanced offer on the table including economic and political partnership and help with nuclear technology for civilian use.
‘We await the Iranian response and will do everything possible to maintain the dialogue.
‘But we are also clear that if Iran continues to ignore united resolutions, to ignore our offers of partnership, we have no choice but to intensify sanctions.
‘And so today Britain will urge Europe to take further sanctions against Iran.’
To Bush’s delight he then revealed that the UK was not about to wait to get agreement with the EU on increasing sanctions.
Brown, taking the confrontational course, said: ‘First of all we will take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank in Iran, and second, action will start today for a new phase of sanctions on oil and gas.’
Prime Minister Brown could not do enough to please his master Bush, and to try and make up the ground that he lost in the toadying stakes when Bush declared in Paris that France, under Sarkozy, was now the US’ main ally in Europe.
There is not the slightest doubt that the fate of British imperialism is linked to the fate of its US master and that it cannot stand alone.
This means that Brown, when given the word by the next US president, whether it be Obama or McCain, that Iran will have to be attacked and its regime changed, will fall in line obediently behind the United States ruling class, as did his predecessor Blair.
The only way to prevent a new and wider war in the Gulf is for the working class to bring down the Brown government with a general strike, to bring in a workers government and socialism.