Monday, 30 November 2009

Golwg Column: Learn to say 'no'

It's hard to say 'no'.
But its much harder to say 'no' on the international stage. Especially to some one with some influence in this world like the United States.
It's such a powerful country and has such an influence on our lives. In every sense of the word it is a big country, economically, politically, militarily and culturally.
Oh yes, its not child's play to say 'no' to the US.
But 'no' is what Harold Wilson said in the 1960s about the Vietnam war.
The United States were determined to stop  communist North Vietnam from taking over the south of the country. And Lyndon Johnston, US President at the time was urging Britain to send its armed forces to Vietnam to fight along side  the American forces. Despite being threatened and cajoled by Johnston, Wilson stood his ground and refused.
Consequently, no British soldier spilt his blood in that conflict. History shows that Wilson's decision was a wise one. Ho Chi Minh's army defeated the American giant. It was madness for the American's to be involved.
Harold Wilson was the last British Prime Minister to say 'no'. Oh for a statesman of his kind today.
The history of Britain for the rest of the twentieth century and in this century was of  Prime Ministers, with little back bone, yielding to America.
Now the world see us as America's  poodle. As a consequence we've been or are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite a large number of the nation protesting against the Iraq war, Tony Blair preferred  bestowing his favors on Bush than listen to his own people. He'd rather mislead us than refuse his friend in the White House.
And who paid the price? Our young people. In Afghanistan alone 120 British soldiers have been killed since 2001. In Iraq there were 1.2 million deaths overall in that war.
At last there is an inquiry into Britain's role in Iraq and hopefully we will see its conclusions. The hope is we'll find out the truth.
Daily there are voices raised about the foolishness of being in Afghanistan. The latest is that of Kim Howells who has reached the conclusion that our efforts  there are wasted. Pulling out would be the wisest move.
Even Gordon Brown has come to the conclusion that we need an exit strategy.
Its not an exit strategy that is required, but a strategy to deal with the influence of our 'friend' across the Atlantic.
We should learn to say "No".

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