Video: Andy Worthington discusses the US-UK special relationship on Russia Today, involving war, torture, extradition and Shaker Aamer

Written by Andy Worthington Friday, 16 March 2012
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Yesterday, I was pleased to be invited to discuss the “special relationship” between the US and the UK on Russia Today, which was timely, of course, as David Cameron was visiting Barack Obama, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss how the “special relationship,” which transcends party politics, seems, on recent evidence, to be based on warmongering, complicity in torture, and a shared belief in the shredding of long-established laws.


In response to questions from the host, Alla Key, I was also given the opportunity to wonder whether the two leaders would be managing to find time to discuss people whose lives are being ruined by the dreadful US-UK extradition agreement, whereby British citizens are being imprisoned for years and/or facing draconian prison sentences and savage conditions of confinement without the need for evidence to be presented, and with no regard for whether they would be better off tried in the UK instead, or whether extradition is correct in cases that do not even involve crimes in the UK.
Alla mentioned the most recent case -- Richard O'Dwyer, a young man facing extradition regarding TVShack, a website he owned that, according to US prosecutors, hosted links to pirated films and television programmes. -- but I also found the opportunity to mention Babar Ahmad, who has been imprisoned for eight years fighting his extradition, and, on a separate topic, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, cleared since 2007, whose continued detention is unjustifiable, but who is unlikely to have been a topic of discussion between the two leaders. 
The video is below.
Sadly, the meeting of David Cameron and Barack Obama was -- as far as the public was concerned -- an excuse for a pair of cringe-making speeches, made by both leaders, with extensive reference to their wives, and to Winston Churchill, that made me think it was 1962 -- and the world as seen through the eyes of "Mad Men" -- rather than 2012. 
This, for example, is the most depressing part of Cameron's speech:
[T]here are three things about Barack that really stand out for me: strength, moral authority, and wisdom.
Strength, because Barack has been strong when required to defend his national interests. Under President Obama's leadership, America got bin Laden. And together with British and coalition forces, America has fundamentally weakened al-Qaeda. The President says what he will do and he sticks to it. [Note: so what happened to the closure of Guantánamo, then?]
I'll never forget that phone call on Libya, when he told me exactly what role America would play in Libya, and he delivered his side of the bargain to the letter. [Note: he told you how many civilian deaths there would be?] We delivered our side of the bargain, too. And let us all agree that the world is better off without bin Laden,
but the world is better off without Qaddafi, too.
Moral authority, because Barack understands that the means matter every bit as much as the ends. Yes, America must do the right thing, but to provide moral leadership, America must do it in the right way, too. [Note: Where does the targeted killing of US citizens, without due process, figure in this "moral leadership"?] The first President I studied at school was Theodore Roosevelt. He talked of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. That is Barack's approach.  And in following it, he has pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world.
Wisdom, because Barack has not rushed into picking fights, but is steward of America's resources of hard and soft power. He's taken time to make considered decisions, drawing down troops from Iraq and surging in Afghanistan. He's found a new voice for America with the Arab people. And at home, he's recognized that in America, as in Britain, the future depends on making the best of every citizen. [Note: This is a joke with reference to both the US and the UK, given how both governments have refused to tackle the excesses of Wall Street or the City of London or to hold anyone accountable for their crimes that almost bankrupted the world in 2008]. Both our nations have historically been held back by inequality. But now there's a determined effort in both our countries -- most notably through education reform -- to ensure that opportunity is truly available for all. [Note: I am almost at a loss for words. David Cameron, the scourge of the poor, the unemployed and the disabled, who tripled tuition fees for students, and cut all state support for arts, humanities and the social sciences at university, is talking about equality and the opportunities offered by educational reform?]

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