Unfortunately for Mr Blair, the rest of the world has a diametrically different view of the USA. According to the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey, even we Britons regard the American presence in Iraq as a bigger danger to world peace than either Iran or North Korea. A third of British voters think the US invaded Iraq “to control Middle Eastern oil”. A quarter think America aims “to dominate the world”. In short, we – in common with most Europeans – increasingly regard the United States not as Superman but as Lex Luthor.
Nothing illustrates this better than the assumption, which many Tories share with Mr Blair’s critics within the Labour Party, that the US is to blame for the continued fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
Conventional wisdom has it that the American government is in a position to dictate to the Israeli government because of the latter’s dependence on economic and military aid from the United States. Thus, when Condoleezza Rice opposed a joint Arab-European call for an immediate ceasefire at last week’s Rome summit, most commentators interpreted this as an American green light for continued Israeli attacks on Lebanese targets. From both ends of the political spectrum I heard the same anti-American refrain: “If they really wanted to stop the fighting, they could.”
I asked a few people last week what share of Israel’s GDP they thought was accounted for by American aid. The estimates went as high as 40 per cent. In fact, US aid to Israel was equivalent to just 3.2 per cent of Israel’s gross domestic product in 2004, compared with 14 per cent in 1986. American aid today is much more important for Jordan (14 per cent of GDP) and the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza (5.6 per cent) than it is for Israel.
Now, here we have:
The people of Iceland are about to join one of the world’s smallest clubs – those nations without armed forces on their territory to defend their borders.
The United States, which had assured Iceland’s defence for decades, stunned the country in March when it announced that it would be closing its bases on the island, withdrawing its F-15 fighters and thousands of servicemen in the space of just six months. …
The United States is still legally pledged to defend Iceland from attack, but it now insists that it can do this from a distance.
That’s rather imperialist, isn’t it? What on earth do we have to do with Iceland? Is it a colony of ours? Do they send us tribute in gold or slaves?
So if it’s okay, and expected, that we provide for the security of Iceland, why aren’t we allowed to “provide” for the “security” of the Middle East?