Saying no to Donald Trump shouldn’t just be an act of gesture politics, it presents us an opportunity to rethink our often troubling relationship with the United States

February 13, 2018

One might assume from the title of this piece that I intend to argue that Britain’s place in the world should be one outside of the American sphere of influence or NATO. I don’t intend to argue for such an isolationist position, and the conversation about President Trump’s visit to this country should not solely be focused around the man’s prior misdemeanours either. Enough has been said on the matter, and to be frank many of these arguments are a reflection of our currently shallow and self-aggrandising political discourse. These arguments also hardly stand up against the fact that we have welcomed leaders from far more repressive countries in the past, be it regular visits by Saudi Princes, or Xi Jinping in 2015. However, not satisfying the Trump’s ego with a ‘Pomp-and-circumstance’ state visit would be a first step in ending decades of doormat diplomacy with a partner state that has consistently taken advantage of us over the past fifty years.

 

However, this all immediately sounds unrealistic and somewhat irrational when one considers Britain’s current situation. We are a nation consumed by our break with the European Union, why would we sacrifice vital trading goodwill with the world’s largest economy after we are cast from the trading bloc, especially when it is led by a man who identified himself with Brexiteer nationalism by calling himself ‘Mr Brexit’ in 2016? The problem with this sentiment is that it underestimates the effect of President Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy on global trade. Be under no illusion; Trump would be quick to create a post-Brexit deal that would only suit American interests at the expense of Britain’s economy, you can forget about any solidarity towards fellow nationalists like himself producing any other outcome. As a result, we have little to lose in not giving the man the lavish state visit that he so desires, and likely more to gain from actually taking a firm stand with such a gesture.

 

Even before the Trump Presidency signalled an abandonment of the liberal world order, there has been a long history of the United States taking advantage of the so-called ‘special relationship’ between our two countries. Examples of open manoeuvres against Britain like the threatening of military action against us during the Suez Crisis and funding for the Provisional IRA’s terrorism in Northern Ireland, along with our never-ending misadventures in the Middle East indicate that our relationship with the United States has been one of take, and not much give to show for it. Likewise when we have called upon them for support, such as during the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982, the Americans have often sat cringing on the side-lines. Being firm with the United States by not giving its President a state visit when it has run astray of its international responsibilities sends a clear message to the Americans that we do not have to submit ourselves exclusively to their interests, and would be a step forward in them taking us more seriously on the international stage.

 

Photo: adapted from Pixabay, tiburi 

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