Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The War Of Rooney's Ankle

Around the corner we have a refugee from South Africa driven out by the media coverage of the World Cup. The lady is in a “safe house” that is without TV and emerges only to go to football free venues. In the meantime we are making bets. I have bet that the USA will clatter Rooney’s ankle in the first ten minutes. The other half has bet that he will be sent off. Either way it will not be good to watch so we are putting on a DVD. But the game might be the final straw that finishes the “Special Relationship” that we have endured so long.

It really began in the 1920’s when waves of American film, music, media and ideas backed by big money flowed in unabated and were devoured by ordinary people overcome by the vigour, colour and professionalism of it all. From the 1940’s on and for the length of The Cold War, despite the ups and downs the need to oppose the Communist states and to work together meant that it continued, albeit with the UK the junior partner often ignored, sometimes helped.

We should have realised once the Berlin Wall came down that some difficult choices had to be made. But we were in Europe, becoming ever more entangled and despite the extensive involvement with American business the money flows alone were not going to keep the relationship “special”. The UK governments continued to buy favour with deregulation of finance on the one hand and sending support troops into wherever the Americans wanted to go on the other.

Now none of it works, the USA itself is bust and has a President and Cabinet looking for people to blame for any or all of its troubles. Guess who is coming to dinner? The BP oil disaster has handed them a gift and they are taking full advantage of it. If the hurricane season turns out to be as lively as predicted and some big ones hit the Gulf it could become worse. You did not hear it here first; there are plenty of others who have been suggesting it.

In international finance the troubles continue. There is talk of aftershocks, double dip depression, chaotic collapses here and there and around the individual States of the USA huge reductions are being made in spending, jobs and services. Wall Street is blamed but you must understand that in the Mid West and The Sticks the street stands for all that is bad in unhealthy foreign influence and malpractice.

But from where? London and England of course, where else? The American Irish are blaming London for the economic disaster in Ireland. The American Jewish believe that a lot of the problems in Palestine are down to the old British Mandate and later Suez Crisis. Others watch the films of American Independence where all the rotters speak with Home Counties accents with not a Scot, Irishman or member of the Kings German Legion in sight. If you want a nasty villain pick an English actor.

A lot of American problems are down to increasing difficulty in matching fiscal revenues locally and nationally with expenditure and that problem has hugely worsened with the scale of tax avoidance/evasion via tax havens, many centred on London and its affiliates. A good many companies are having greater difficulties in dealing with Europe and some of that inevitably is attributed to the erratic conduct of affairs in London.

Our performance in Iraq did not endear us to the military and the blundering supply problems in Afghanistan increased pressures on the Americans. The UK could not even deal with its own wounded. As an ally, the UK has become an ally who cannot be relied on and the politicians who control Defence a liability. In the War On Terrorism, the Americans are convinced that a good deal of the trouble arises from the lax and incompetent conduct of relationships in London. If you want to start looking for where the terrorist planners are you just need to take the Central Line.

When Cameron’s cuts begin we will all be squealing but there will be effects felt in the USA as well. Some of the most expensive and disastrous shambles in our government computer services involve American companies and if there is a major crackdown on all this the pain will be felt in America. It is difficult to see how any cuts in Defence can be made without affecting one American company or another. Anything involving hardware, software, consumer goods, entertainment and many financial services will have an effect across the Atlantic.

We will not see a war as such but the beginning of a continuing and deepening attrition of relationships. There are elections pending soon in the USA and it will not be long before President Obama begins his re-election campaign. He took over in a bad situation and it is not improving anywhere near fast enough. Also, the USA needs to mend fences in many places, South America for one. If Argentina needs to be made a friend what concessions to their feelings might be made?

But to come back to the blame game, within the USA then Wall Street will be getting its full share, but watch the companies involved, do I hear Goldman Sachs, lay off the weight of it onto their foreign partners and subsidiaries. For other blame the USA will avoid some obvious people to complain about. They cannot afford to offend either China or Russia and some other powers. Britain is the most likely one to get the sucker punch when American politics turns rough.

And it might all start with a nasty little media spat about Rooney’s ankle.

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