The Special Relationship and its Prophetic Ramifications
From the Balfour Declaration to Trump embassy relocation to Jerusalem, the Anglo-American alliance that has defined global Geo-Politics for over a century has been central to the unfolding and out working of the scripturally predicted Prophetic agenda for Israel & The Jews. This has paralleled the fact that since the Methodist Revivals of the late 18th Century, Britain, then the USA have been at the demographic and theological heart of Evangelicism, missions, and Philo-Semitic support for Zionism. But what, in light of current trends, might the future hold in this regard?
Unlike Britannia’s’ other colonial holdings, British America had a relatively large settler population of European descent which could be marshaled to carry out the Empire’s military campaigns in the locality. This was displayed during the French and Indian War of 1754-63, when interestingly George Washington – the soon to be Republic’s founding father served as a British Army Colonel. Once the French threat had been eliminated; the colonists keen on expanding westwards beyond the Appalachians, and resentful of taxation without representation broke ties with the Motherland. American victories in the ensuing war of Independence confirmed that the former subjects were a formidable force to be reckoned with. During the Revolutionary War and in subsequent years there were strong Franco-Spanish interests in supporting the nascent nation against the traditional enemy Great Britain, particularly in the naval theatre. London’s perception of the United States over the next century was framed by a blend of recognition for its significant regional power, coupled with competition for commercial ascendency.
Thomas Jefferson first concretely pursued control of the entire North American continent with the Louisiana purchase of 1803 which doubled its territory. Napoleon had decided to dispose of the last remaining French assets on the American continent and instead focused on attempting to retain the more lucrative plantations in Haiti, which were in a state of prolonged insurrection. An expanding U.S. free from French obstruction now had compelling reason to keep the European powers out of the New World. However, the trajectory towards hegemony wasn’t linear. Akin to how its ancient equivalent Rome (which it was partly modeled after) had overexerted itself early in its history and was sacked by the Gauls in 387 BC; infant America prematurely declared war on Britain in 1812, which resulted in the Capital being torched. This traumatic episode impressed upon Congress the need to form a larger maritime force, just as Rome had learnt early in the Punic Wars against Carthage. Eventually the conflict was fought to a stalemate. Critically outnumbered, General Jackson’s stunning victory at the Battle of New Orleans was effectively redundant given that a Peace Treaty had already been signed in Ghent weeks earlier. This symbolic win did nevertheless impart to Britain that it was better to have America as a friend than a foe (as Britain would later do with the Nepalese Gurkhas), as did Perry’s naval victory over the Royal Navy on Lake Erie and the defence of Baltimore’s Fort Mc Henry from British naval bombardment. After Francis Drake sunk the Armada, no other power resisted British naval prominence with any real success. American naval co-founder John Paul Jones was born in Scotland holding Jacobite sentiments while its other founder John Barry was from an Irish nationalist family, and the US from the outset built a naval heritage of its own , that while too small to challenge the Royal Navy, it could dispel the myth of British naval invincibility. From then onwards Britain was careful not to antagonize America with inflammatory policies such as the forced recruitment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy which acted as the Casus belli in 1812. In similar vein, the U.S had come to accept the British presence in Canada as a permanent fixture. A kind of symbiotic relationship then developed with a tacit understanding that constructively the U.S. was acting as Britain’s policeman with strategic backing. This was the harbinger of what would later become ‘The Special Relationship’.
This meeting of minds was echoed in Britain’s implied endorsement of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 that opposed further European colonialism in the Americas. Simon Bolivar ignited freedom in the hearts of South Americans who overthrew the reigning Spanish in most of the continent. Britain desired to exclude its European rivals from the resultant established states. She was rapidly developing an industrial based economy and it was vital to secure markets for its manufactured exports. Accordingly, Britain adopted a laissez-faire free trade approach that opposed Spanish mercantilism and was thus apprehensive that international trade would be damaged by renewed colonization. Lacking a powerful Navy, the U.S. was reliant upon the Royal Navy to enforce the doctrine, which advanced the broader Pax Britannica that maintained neutrality of the seas.
In following decades, a strong commercial relationship blossomed between the plantation based agrarian economy in the southern states and the textile mill industry that existed predominantly in the midlands and north of England. Cotton was the principal commodity traded, and so the British ruling class had a vested interest in preserving the institution of slavery which was considered the most pragmatic means of cultivating this labor-intensive crop. By contrast, northern industrial cities such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia were regarded as competitors to Britain’s manufacturing heartland by the elite. This tension reached its apex when Britain quietly supported the Confederacy during the civil war. Military advisors were provided on the battlefield and several warships sold. Further intervention was precluded by popular sentiment among the general public, who were inclined to be abolitionist (slavery was outlawed throughout the British Empire in 1833 due in large part to the influences of Methodism) and pro North. Such sentiments were to a degree shared ideologically and by way of political practicality by Britain’s Jewish Christian Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli’s ambitions for the Suez Canal would see the Nile Delta emerging as an alternative source oil cotton for the fabric mills of Bradford and bLeeds. Additionally, the Russian Tsar bolstering the Union by stationing fleets in New York and San Francisco functioned as a deterrence.
Shortly after the war’s conclusion Washington turned a blind eye to a collection of Irish American veterans invading Canada under the banners of the Finian flag. They planned to hold the territory ransom in exchange for Britain granting Ireland’s independence. But their dreams were short lived. The militia was held off near the border and forced to retreat. Irish Independence proved to be a recurrent theme impacting certain proclivities of Official American governmental policy well into the 20th Century. The Irish Diaspora had become established in political institutions such as Tammany Hall and many powerful Unions. Growing numbers of prominent politicians were emerging from this community, and some motivated by opposition to the occupation of Ireland went on to inspire a hostile U.S. stance towards Britain. This conspicuously occurred when the U.S. supported Venezuela in a border dispute with British Guiana which was eventually resolved peacefully. But this was the exception to warming ties.
In 1867 relations were smoothed over when a settlement was agreed whereby Britain would pay compensation to the U.S. for damage inflicted by the ships it had sold to the Confederacy. The colossal expansion of the railways in post-civil war years out West and South drew hefty investments from the City of London in the U.S. bond market which funded this infrastructure. Controlling interest in America’s flagship Pennsylvania Railroad had British majority stock ownership. Historically and to this day, the City held immense unaccountable clout and guided Britain’s economic direction. As a matter of ancient constitution, the City had rights and privileges elevating it beyond the ambit of either King or Parliament. In fact, the City was pivotal in securing Roundhead victory during the Civil War. It again intervened during the Glorious Revolution, installing the Dutch protestant William of Orange to co-reign with Mary. This then enabled Parliamentary Sovereignty to be codified in the Bill of Rights, thereby rendering both branches of government entirely beholden to the City. Its separate position and massive influence on British fiscal policy was now secured in perpetuity. Government relied upon the City to underwrite empire building and bankroll wars. The medieval Guilds and prosperous arrangements of association that comprised the City of London in the past, evolved into financial institutions which controlled its ruling body.
The City had established Wall Street as a major financial center. Their dealings were entwined as a somewhat extended Anglo-Saxon Market. However, the City remained the global financial heart, far exceeding all other nations in commercial activity. London was the international authority for arbitrating business disputes in contract and maritime law. British companies such as Lloyds dominated the insurance industry. The price of precious metals was set by a group of bankers who met in the City. The City and Wall Street’s agendas informed much of how transatlantic relations played out during the succeeding period of rapprochement. Two centuries prior, London had replaced Amsterdam as the main international financial center and was not about to relinquish this coveted position to New York. That being said by the end of the nineteenth century American heavy industry surpassed that of Britain and with more than double the U.K.’s population it enjoyed a far bigger domestic consumer base for its goods. Commercial rivalries aside, British support for the U.S. during the Spanish-American war and U.S. support for Britain during the Boer war signified that they were seeking cordial relations. The two nations unquestionably had much in common and this was cemented when the American elite started intermarrying with the British Aristocracy as exemplified by the Astors, half American Prime Ministers such as Winston Churchill and John Major, and the current American wife of a British Prince.
When the Great War erupted America initially remained neutral, owing to substantial German and Irish demographics who opposed the U.S. joining the conflict. As the fighting dragged on, Britain and France became reliant upon huge loans from Wall Street to fund their war efforts. Aware the loans would be defaulted upon should the Allies loose, powerful financial titans such as J.P. Morgan Jr. successfully lobbied Congress to declare war on Germany (using the dubious Zimmermann Telegram as an excuse). In the wake of Germany’s capitulation, U.S. President Wilson was instrumental in establishing the League of Nations and was adamant in bringing the age of Imperialism to an end by the granting of self-determination. This caused friction with colonial diplomats in Whitehall who wanted to maintain the status quo. When it came for approval, the Senate declined to ratify American membership in this international peace keeping organization. The U.S. went on to embrace a foreign policy of isolationism over the next two decades. International trade generally stunted following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and this considerably also shrunk U.S. – U.K. mutual investments.
As the blitzkrieg was unleashed and Germany began suffocating resilient Britain, President Roosevelt was sympathetic to Churchill’s appeals for help. However, he was restricted by the limits of public opinion, shown in Congress placing a blanket embargo on arms sales to both warring sides. Americans weren’t thrilled by the prospect of shedding blood and treasure again to save Britannia’s Empire. Roosevelt himself had run on a platform of keeping the U.S. out of war. However, he managed to transfer arms through non-monetary processes. Surplus weapons, ammunition and vessels were transferred to British custody in exchange for the use of strategic British ports, such as Bermuda. Roosevelt was successful in advocating this course of action by implying to Congress that if Britain was conquered her territories bordering the U.S. would also fall into Nazi hands. This was supplemented by Lend-Lease which was eventually sanctioned by Congress.
U.S. entry into the war is seen as the starting date of the “special relationship” by most historians. Beginning with the Atlantic Charter Roosevelt and Churchill entered a series of understandings for how they envisaged the post-war new world order to be. The Anglo-American military and intelligence alliance have its origins in the campaign to liberate Europe. For example, “Five Eyes”, the Anglosphere’s unparalleled joint signals intelligence cooperation pact dates from this period. Its resources were later diverted towards spying on the Soviets, and also each other’s citizens in order to avoid domestic constitutional protections for citizen privacy that prohibits surveillance without a warrant. So, they got around this by exchanging the information obtained. GCHQ and the NSA being embedded in each other’s operations is said to be one of the main foundations of the special relationship.
By Potsdam and Yalta, it was sure that Britain was the junior partner in the western alliance. In 1946 Churchill accurately predicted at a Speech in the U.S. that an “Iron Curtain” descended on Europe, which was endangered by Soviet domination. He reasoned it was time for Britain to pass the baton onto her Anglo-Saxon sister country America in leading the world and opposing tyranny. Military harmonization was chrystalized with the formation of NATO in 1949. The strategic American dominance had its monetary equivalent in the Bretton Woods agreement where the dollar, not the pound Sterling, would be the recognized reserve currency, and the IMF and World Bank would be based in the USA.
Britain’s war time devastation during the Blitz was typified by it being the largest recipient of Marshall Aid from the U.S.Although after the war Britain had lost its standing as the principal global power, in terms of business the City managed to sculpt out a new function by the 50’s. Cold War strained relations made the Kremlin anxious that if Russia deposited her dollars in American banks it risked being frozen in the event of a political deterioration. So, it instead deposited this currency in British banks, marking a precedent for U.S. dollars being held outside of American sovereignty marking the birth of the Euro-Dollar that would later be amplified by the Petro-dollar deriving from joint American and British oil interests in the Middle East.
It was during the Great War that support for Zionism with the Balfour declaration and the Post War San Remo agreements which Britain would revoke during and after the Second World War leading to post war conflict with Zionist partisans that had moral and financial support from within the USA. Britain did not support the UN partition re-establishing Israel. The USA however did. Ironically, Britain was allied with Israel in the Suez crises when Eisenhower placed the breaks on Britain and France and ended with the tragic result Nasser bringing Egypt into the Soviet sphere of influence that saw Soviet backing for the Arab powers bent one Israel’s destruction in the wars of 1967 and 1973.
Trans-Atlantic relations became jeopardized during the Suez Crisis of 1956. The President was furious that he wasn’t informed of the clandestine operation against Egypt. Britain was humiliatingly compelled to abort their attack. This confirmed that it was the last days of Empire and Britain was no longer free to act unilaterally. This perhaps goes some way in explaining why while fighting side by side during the Korean war in the early 50’s, Britain resolved not to join the American spearheaded Vietnam war in the 60’s, although its own renewed armed conflict problems in Northern Ireland was a recurrent factor.
The 70’s saw the City marketing itself as serving international Capital interests. It became the nucleus of international currency trading, evidenced by most of the Eurobond market being cleared in London. Furthermore, it acted as a hub for tax shelters through Britain’s overseas territories in the Channel Islands and Caribbean. These offshore financial centers were sufficiently autonomous to legislate lax tax codes, enabling Whitehall to conveniently absolve itself of responsibility over such internal affairs. Money was being transferred both ways by an army of tax professionals, lawyers and accountants. The prospect of minimal taxation presented London as an attractive destination for foreign investors. The judiciary in several House of Lords and Court of Appeals decisions gave a green light to offshore tax dodging by permitting sophisticated artificial transactions that ostensibly produced a loss but, had no legitimate commercial purpose and were orchestrated solely in order to avoid tax. One dissenting voice in a notable case put it this way: “The object of the performance is to create the illusion that something has happened, that Hamlet has been killed and that Bottom did don an ass’s head so that tax advantages could be claimed as if something had happened”.Judicial approaches were adapting to the prevailing climate of globalized wealth holding, analogous to how Statute catered to corporate wealth holding with the limited liability Act in 1855 which defined companies as separate legal entities from their shareholders.
All this created an unregulated shadow banking system, peaking with “Big Bang” in 1986 after Thatcher and Reagan together liberalized the financial markets which resulted in a boom that debatably made London the foremost global financial center again. The net effect was that both countries invested heavily in each other’s economies both in capital and employment via company set-ups abroad. Thatcher and Reagan as ideological allies enjoyed a close personal friendship. Despite the U.S. having a huge Latino population, America supported British action to reclaim the Falkland Islands after Argentinian invasion. Similarly, Britain notwithstanding Commonwealth condemnation, defended U.S. intervention in Grenada. Overall, the joint assertive Reagan-Thatcher position was instrumental in bringing the Cold War to an end. The final arms race that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union was Thatcher’s support for American Cruise Missile deployment in response to Soviet SS20 missiles aimed at Western Europe.
The special relationship continued to flourish in the 90’s epitomized by Blair’s warm friendship with Clinton. Following September 11th, Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with Bush in the wars of Afghanistan and later Iraq (when it was only the English-speaking world that participated). During this period a mark of alienation colored U.S. relations with the E.U., which objected to the Washington consensus. Britain at times appeared to be stuck in the middle. Blair for example found it difficult to field a defense of the detentions at Guantanamo Bay, referring to the site as an “anomaly” in international law.
The observant reader will detect that there is a periodic rhythm to Anglo-American relations where approximately every thirty to forty years the world order is reconfigured by an event. It is submitted that Brexit and the election of national populist Trump is the most recent manifestation of this phenomena in 2016. Its significance may be to signal the end of the neoliberalist ideology which has prevailed in post war years. Furthermore, in recent months we have seen the first time that a President has intervened directly in UK politics. Trump endorsed Boris Johnson (like Trump, a native New Yorker by birth) as his preferred successor to May and Farage as a future British Ambassador to Washington. The May and Cameron government via MI 6 are likewise suspected of involvement in the Steele Report on allegations of Russian collusion in US election in favour of Clinton in reaction top Trump’s pro Brexit sentiments. Trump also hammered his critic, the Islamic mayor of London for London’s increased crime.
If Brexit will entail the UK leaving the Customs Union (as Johnson has indicated) parliamentary sovereignty will be fully restored. Westminster taking back control of laws presents the opportunity for a fresh vision of how UK-US relations are framed in many domains, not least of which is trade and the general regulatory framework. A recurring theme touted by Nigel Farage of the Brexit Party is to transform the UK into a kind of financial hub like Singapore with a further relaxed tax code and less regulation impeding commerce. This would have huge implications for post-Brexit U.S. – U.K. trade. In particular, the agricultural sector will be impacted. Agriculture and related industries (such as farming insurance) are of course a huge segment of the economy in many mid-western states and East Anglia. Should food regulations in the UK be modified, this would have the potential to significantly increase US exports. E.U. provisions currently restrict GMO use in the UK, contrary to the lenient approach taken by U.S. regulators. If these restrictions are eased post-Brexit, US producers will be able to seize upon these new opportunities. Therefore it appears that if Johnson is elected prime minister and Britain decisively leaves Europe this may signal a new Golden Age in the Special Relationship. The Trump administration has also raised the spectre of a degree of inclusion of the UK in the American – Canadian- Mexican proposed replacement for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) scrapped by Trump.
If however, Corbyn ends up in Number Ten, and Brexit is scuttled or significantly defanged we may end up with rather chilly relations that herald the end of close ties. Corbyn’s objectives seem tailored to undermine transatlantic relations across the breadth of cooperation. He wants to scrap the nuclear missile deterrent Trident which is part of the broader NATO protective nuclear umbrella over Europe. He seeks to reign in intelligence sharing with U.S. counterparts, in addition to other friendly agencies such as the Israeli Mossad. This will likely invoke deep mistrust in Washington. In terms of financial affairs, he would like to see the Corporation of the City of London abolished, thereby removing the City’s autonomous status with the consequence of discouraging international investment -not least from the U.S. This doesn’t even begin to mention the differences in foreign policy between Trump and Corbyn which are enormously divergent; ranging from how to resolve the Middle East conflict to the correct approach in confronting Iran.
Once again, both the place of Ireland and Israel figure as focal factors in Anglo-American Relations as do the large Irish American and Jewish American political power blocks. The Good Friday agreement made the USA a player in Irish peace preservation ending more than a generation of conflict that no one wants reignited. The hard Brexit vs shift Brexit debate however, threatens in the opinion of many in Ireland and Britain, to do just that.
The solidly pro Israel Trump administration pushing unprecedented cooperation with Israel’s government in defence and intelligence sharing and American investment in Israel’s booming high tech sector and in Research & Development with a President all of whose children are married to Jews and all of whose Grand Children are Jewish, and a Jeremy Corbyn who is popularly viewed as anti Israel and seen by many as anti Semitic, assures any Labour election victory will spell major problems in Washington, in London, and in Jerusalem.
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