Masthead for WDIE

Year 2001 No. 23, February 7, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Robin Cook in the United States:

How Special Is the Relationship?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Robin Cook in the United States:
How Special Is the Relationship?

North East Regional Campaign Against Corus

International News In Brief:
Anti-British Demonstrations in Libya

Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site:
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition:
70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail):
1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10

Robin Cook in the United States:

How Special Is the Relationship?

The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, arrived in Washington DC on Monday for a three-day visit to the US. The visit aimed to prepare the ground for Tony Blair’s trip in a fortnight. The Foreign Secretary is having talks with the new US government and key political figures.

All eyes are on the visit to see how far the "special relationship" between Britain and America can be stretched now that Tony Blair’s close friend Bill Clinton has been replaced in office by George W Bush. At issue is not simply how close the new Bush administration’s policies and ideology are to New Labour’s as compared with those of Clinton. The signs here are that there is much more convergence than might at first have been supposed. The direction both Blair and Bush are setting out for society appear to be being dictated by an attempt to justify and consolidate the arrangements for a neo-liberal agenda at all costs.

But also at issue is how far Britain will cosy up to the Bush administration in terms of being an ally internationally and side with on foreign policy and on militarisation. In an interview Robin Cook stressed that the US and Britain shared common interests and common values and spoke of the two countries as "natural allies". He stated that Britain would continue to play its role as a bridge between the US and the EU and pledged to strengthen what he referred to as "the Atlantic partnership".

Of particular concern has been the balance between Britain’s transatlantic and European ties. It is true that Britain has continued to be only too willing to tie itself to the coat-tails of US imperialism. This has been the case whether one thinks of the war and sanctions against Iraq, the bombing of Yugoslavia, the tirade against "rogue" states, and other issues. However, since the Labour Party became the government, there has been a perceptible shift from a policy of "strong with the United States, strong in Europe" to one of "strong in Europe, strong in the world". In other words, how to square the circle of whether to side with US imperialism in its drive for a uni-polar world under its domination, or whether to side with the EU in strengthening itself as a reactionary economic, political and particularly military bloc of the European monopolies, has – though in principle unsolvable for Britain – been in the course of tipping towards the EU. What will be the emphasis now that Bush is the US President? Will Britain act as the Trojan horse of US imperialism in its aim to control Europe? Or will Britain further go down the road of strengthening the European identity, particularly as regards its military strategy in opposition to NATO? Will Robin Cook and Tony Blair be able to persuade the Bush administration that Britain should be considered US imperialism’s closest ally and confidante?

One issue over which this question threatens to come to a head is over the "Son of Star Wars" National Missile Defence (NMD) of the US. This is a particularly divisive issue potentially for the Labour government, as was evident for example at the "security conference" in Munch last weekend. The EU leaders are against the US pursuing such a course, as is Russia. However, the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been adamant that criticism that it would spark an "arms race" was an irrelevant "leftover" from the Cold War.

So Robin Cook has been at pains to explain to the US administration that "Europe’s new capacity for crisis management (the so-called Rapid Deployment Force) strengthens the North Atlantic Alliance"; and how the two powers could continue to intervene in the Balkans so that it becomes what he referred to as "a region of stability and of freedom". He has sought to take the focus of difficult questions by concentrating on areas of "mutual concern", such as the joint demands of the government of Libya following the Lockerbie trial.

But in the end the circle cannot be squared. The interests of the imperialist powers of the US and Europe cannot be reconciled. Britain itself is pursuing a course that puts the interests of its monopolies in the world first and foremost. While converging in their desperate attempts to save their system of globalisation, bolster the status quo, and head off the workers’ and progressive people’s movement for socialism and renewal at all costs, the big power global interests of US imperialism, of the Europe of the monopolies and of Britain’s dreams of empire will come into increasing contradiction.

Article Index

North East Regional Campaign Against Corus

The brutal announcement of Corus to axe 6,050 jobs has brought condemnation throughout the northern region. The closure of the steel plant at Llanwern in South Wales has also carried with it job losses at other plants, including 1,000 expected in the steel industry on Teeside. This is being seen as the final destruction of the manufacturing industry in the region.

The Northern Echo, the Evening Gazette in Middlesborough and the North East Journal have all started a campaign and have issued forms to their readers to send in. The Journal writes: "The jobs of more than 1,000 of Europe's most efficient steel workers are on the line unless Corus bosses reconsider their decision to axe the jobs." The paper points out that it is a "time when the region should come together and expose Corus to the collective force of the region's feelings. Workers need as much help as they can get. That is why we are asking you to fill in the form published below and send it back to us." Journal editor Ged Henderson said last night: "We are pleased to join in the fight for the region. The louder we shout together the more likely we are to succeed."

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, whose constituency is in Sedgefield, was reported as assuring workers in the region that the government "would not turn its back" on the people who have lost their jobs. A Downing Street spokesman told the Journal: "He told them we are looking with some urgency at a package of measures to support the local economy and provide new jobs. We are clearly asking Corus to think again, but at the same time we have to make sure those people affected are looked after." Employment task forces are expected to be set up in each of the main regions affected, including Teesside. But with Corus still in talks with the unions and Tony Blair urging a rethink, the task forces are unlikely to be set up until all other options are exhausted.

It was also reported on the job losses that mainly effect Wales, that Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said: "It should have been obvious that Corus was in some difficulty, and that should have rung some alarm bells in Government. The risks have been known for some time and, so far as I can see, there has been no activity from the Government," he said.

The Northern Regional TUC was reported as saying that more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs could be lost this year unless the government tackles the damaging exchange rate with the euro and launches a comprehensive manufacturing policy.

In the northern region since 1981 employment in the steel industry has dropped from 24,337 to less than 2,000 today. This mirrors the decline in employment in the coal industry, which in the same period has dropped from 37,264 to 1,182. Around 100,000 manufacturing jobs have gone in the last 20 years.

Clearly, it is such a direction for the economy in the northern region and in the country which is causing such devastation. With the increasing reliance of the economy on inward and outward investment in the global market, huge global monopolies like Corus have no concern as to the fate of national economies and workers lives. Workers should take the lead in the campaign to save the steel jobs on Teeside and in Wales. This whole direction for the economy of reliance on inward and outward investment of global monopolies should be challenged by the workers and a new direction for the economy put forward for a national economy that has the interests of the workers and the people as a whole as its central concern. The workers in the region have to develop their fighting programme along with workers everywhere. They must decide the direction of the economy in order to achieve the secure livelihood that they desire. The challenge of this situation must engage the workers in finding the solution, not only for themselves, but for society as a whole.

Article Index

International News In Brief

Anti-British Demonstrations in Libya

Police in the Libyan capital Tripoli have been forced to intervene to prevent thousands of protesters storming the British embassy. According to news agency reports, the demonstration was mounted to protest against the verdict in last week’s Lockerbie bombing trial in the Netherlands in which Scottish judges convicted a Libyan man, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, of the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Scotland in which 270 people were killed. The judges’ verdict has been questioned by many legal experts and the families of those who lost their lives in 1988. The Libyan government has refused to accept any responsibility for the bombing and the judges’ verdict is said to have caused outrage in Libya.

The governments of both Britain and the US have used the judges’ decision to put further pressure on Libya and are demanding the payment of £500m in compensation to the relatives of the Lockerbie victims before the lifting of sanctions they have imposed on Libya.

Article Index

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page