Isn’t that Special? The US-UK Relationship Entering a Bad Patch

After a few days here in the UK, a few thoughts. No doubt, Boris Johnson, is the UK’s Trump–a fraud and a menace wrapped up in a ridiculous package. And he, like other UK nationalists, are part of the same Putin & rich-right winger financed network.

And as such, they are as dangerous to the Western Alliance as they are odious to the best values of their country. That said, there are many differences. First, horrible as Boris is, he is hardly as stupid as Trump and he understands better the role of government, etc.

This makes him somewhat more crafty and more likely to operate something like a functioning government–certain though he may be to operate it in a dangerous direction. Also, while the UK political system is profoundly screwed up, it is screwed up differently from the US.

It still functions & lacks an equivalent to the profoundly corrupt and obstructionist McConnell. That said, Jeremy Corbyn is a much weaker opposition leader than any equivalent on the Democratic side in the US. (In the UK, they wear their anti-semitism on their left sleeve too.)

That said, of course, there are other differences that are more salient to the world. One of course, is that the UK is a second tier power and the US remains the world’s leading superpower…which diminishes or magnifies the consequences of dysfunction respectively.

Perhaps most importantly, the UK is committed to an act of self-destruction (Brexit) whereas much of the mischief of Trump is created as he and his team bumble about seeking to intervene in the affairs of the world. The UK errors therefore will deeply damage the country but they are unlikely to start a major regional war, unlikely to screw up the entire global trading system (though they’re doing considerable damage), unlikely to undermine the entire post-WWII international order, etc. Trump’s US is doing all those things and undermining efforts to fight climate change, defend human rights, etc. Also, the US is the tent pole of Western democracies, pulling it down or weakening it inevitably will have worse consequences than even the British desire to take a running leap off the white cliffs of Dover.

Also, of course, while the damage Trump does could be lasting and will certainly take much time from which to recover, it is quite possible Britain will never recover from the surpassing idiocy of Brexit.

So while the problems in the US and the UK not only rhyme but are related, part of a greater global shift toward nationalism, and while both are making deeply damaging political choices, the situations are different. Neither has much to be proud of at the moment.

Both have much to fear. But as a final point, one can’t help but worry that the simultaneous collapses at both ends of the special relationship will likely exacerbate each other’s problems and will usher in a period in our joint history as worrisome as any of the post WWII era.

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