Theresa May has embarrassed the UK with her fawning, hypocritical speech in the US.
Her address to the Republican ‘Congress of Tomorrow’ conference contained some revealingly obsequious and Machiavellian language that needs analysis.
As her Conservative government moves further away from the European Union on many issues, this was an obvious attempt to sidle up to the world’s sole superpower and its grotesque new leader, Donald Trump.
It’s important to point out some particularly deceitful and galling moments from the Prime Minister’s speech to the Republican elite.
Worrying points from the PM’s speech
May initially fawned over the very notion of America:
That idea – that all are created equal and that all are born free – has never been surpassed in the long history of political thought.
This ties America’s revolutionary origins as a democracy to the modern state of American politics. It suggests that as a system it can’t be bettered and that what Americans currently have as political representation is the best.
Anyone even vaguely aware of the corruption in Washington knows this to be nonsense. The effect of powerful lobbyists who represent major corporations is an insidious one that the public have been aware of for years.
Trump even (deceitfully) promised to “drain the swamp” in America’s political heartland, a popular sentiment that runs completely counter to May’s claim.
A nostalgic yearning for mutual Empire building
[Since the Declaration of Independence] it has been America’s destiny to bear the leadership of the free world and to carry that heavy responsibility on its shoulders. But my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been proud to share that burden and to walk alongside you at every stage.
This is a subtle nod to US and UK imperial power, both of the past and in the present. Any talk of being “leaders of the free world” always disregards the fact that America is widely seen as dangerous globally.
Positing American imperial power as pre-destined and as a reluctant burden without acknowledging the huge number of American supported coups around the world is dishonest.
American foreign policy has rarely been due to some poorly defined global “heavy responsibility” and more to do with advancing US corporate/strategic interests, as evidenced by the now infamous invasion of Iraq and the more recent Honduras debacle.
Again with the Reagan references!
May mentions The Gipper by name FIVE TIMES. Playing to your audience is fine but I’m sure even dyed in the wool Republicans were tired of that level of worshipful dreck.
International organisations should work for “our needs”
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund… [and] NATO… Some of these organisations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today.
This is alarming. As May addresses a room full of hawkish Republicans, her use of the phrase “our needs” can only mean that she hopes to impose pressure upon various globally significant organisations.
“Our needs” is not a reassuring phrase for anyone aware of what Republicans and the Conservative government consider needs. Their needs require them to alter the policies of these institutions to support US hegemony and the opening of new, unprotected markets for rapacious Western corporations. May even mentions this directly:
It is through our actions over many years, working together to defeat evil or to open up the world…
Opening up the world is almost as ridiculous and nebulous as defeating “evil”, utterly meaningless unless read as a proposal to break open vulnerable new markets for aggressive US/UK business interests to take over.
Thank God for the World’s Policeman
…a newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world.
This is only true if you don’t happen to be a resident of Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Honduras or anywhere that the US is conducting secret wars, selling arms, attacking with drones or full scale invasions.
We promise to do anything you say, Mr Trump!
Britain is the only country in the G20 – other than [the USA]– to meet its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, and to invest 20% of that in upgrading equipment. It is why Britain is the only country in the G20 to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development. It is why my first act as Prime Minister last year was… the renewal of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. And it is why the Government I lead will increase spending on defence in every year of this Parliament.
This is a direct toeing of the US line. May is reinforcing the idea of the UK as the aggressive bullying subordinate that the more powerful US needs to maintain control over the world, an imperialist lackey Richard “the Hamster” Hammond to America’s Jeremy Clarkson.
The acknowledgement of excessive British military spending and an increased nuclear arsenal brings attention to the fact that Britain can play a role in meting out violence and intimidation alongside America.
British history is full of us being really, really nice to everyone
As Americans know, the United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world.
Utterly laughable! Anyone aware of the British Empire’s brutal stranglehold over the world and its long suffering colonies knows this is ludicrous. More recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (both wars endorsed at the time by Theresa May), as well as arms sales to the repressive and violent Saudis prove this is a self excusing and thin idea.
Global corporate exploitation is fine with us
[The UK will] continue to act as one of the strongest and most forceful advocates for business, free markets and free trade anywhere around the globe.
Free trade here means that Western corporations are free to plunder vulnerable countries or state run services.
Being the “most forceful advocates for business” means that all types of pressures, either peaceful or violent, will be applied to any nation that refuses to “free” their markets for penetrative US/UK corporate interests.
A renewed Special Relationship with renewed imperial ambitions
…We have the opportunity – indeed the responsibility – to renew the Special Relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.
This is a very naked suggestion that the world is open for total US/UK domination. Framing it as a “responsibility” suggests it is a popular, moral and necessary step, something that will be welcomed by the grateful and anonymous masses around the world.
The sentiment of “They won’t have a say in our nation states’ affairs but they’ll be glad we can interfere in theirs” was a popular one with May’s Republican neo-conservative audience.
We promise not to invade any more… except when we really want to
The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene.
Classic doublespeak. The promise not to “intervene” (invade) other countries only takes the next sentence to be broken. “When it is in our own interests” is a catch all; it’s always in “our” interests.
British and American interests in subjugating and controlling the Gulf and other strategic areas are constant, therefore it will always be in “our” interests to invade, occupy and destroy these poorer, relatively defenseless countries.
May is aiming to appeal to the romantic heart of America’s ruling class. Evoking Reagan and the idea of America as the world’s policeman, with it’s faithful sidekick Great Britain, is an attempt to curry favour with Republicans who are keen to project US power even more aggressively around the world.
She ignores British and American histories of abuse and warmongering in her speech, instead framing further aggression and militarism as part of a nurturing, responsible role for the UK/US partnership.
Theresa May is lying about this. She has already shown her priorities, having flown straight from the USA after her speech to Turkey to sell fighter jets worth £100m+ to an increasingly authoritarian Turkish government. Any claim to be a protective or compassionate force in global politics must be viewed entirely skeptically, especially with May looking to forge further links with the unpopular Trump government.