Embassies and Spats

‘It’s a fortress, of course it is’: the new US embassy in Nine Elms, south-west London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

I see the president has decided not to go to London next month to open the new US Embassy. Since it’s Donald Trump, it’s controversial. Of course, he Tweeted about it.

There is truth in that, it is sort of an out of the way location

The old embassy is just west of Soho on that map close to that big green park (that’s Hyde Park). The new one is across the River just about where it turns north. Westminster (where the UK government is) is in between. It’s not as desirable a location, although like anything in London (and environs) it’s ridiculously expensive. But the old embassy had problems, it’s a listed structure, and thus can’t be remodeled (easily anyway) and if you look at most current US Embassies, they tend to be a blend of King Ludwig and the Maginot line.

But because of that listing, the embassy isn’t really worth that much on the market, either. And so the new one is costing us about $1 billion. It’s a deal that stretches back to the Bush Administration. It doesn’t strike me as all that astute, either.

But, of course, this is 2018, and Donald Trump is president, so it has become political, on both sides of the pond.

It’s no secret that Trump and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are not particularly fond of each other, according to the Guardian, Khan had this to say,

“It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance,”

“His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”

Well, OK, but I haven’t noticed the President running from many fights lately, although he may have concluded (rightly, in my mind) that this is the wrong fight at the wrong time.

The Guardian also says:

British relations with the president hit a low late last year when May criticised his decision to retweet videos posted by the far-right extremist group Britain First.

Trump responded by tweeting directly to the prime minister that she should focus on tackling domestic terrorism.

The government was so concerned about his decision to share the videos that Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, took the rare step of raising the issue directly with the White House.

Trump’s ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, subsequently insisted: “The president and the prime minister have a very, very good relationship. I know the president admires and respects the prime minister greatly.”

May’s government has been keen to strike up a close relationship with the Trump administration despite his erratic behaviour, because of Britain’s desire to strike a swift trade deal with the world’s largest economy when it leaves the European Union.

Trump has sparked alarm among diplomats by repeatedly entering into Twitter spats with key public figures, including the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to whom he recently boasted about the size of the US nuclear arsenal.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. I doubt Trump is particularly enthused about the British government support for the Iranian regime either, particularly since it appears to be crass commercialism even by American standards, while protestors are dying in the streets. Nor is the increasing constriction of free speech likely to appeal to him. He may well also be wondering why she apparently has no conception of decision making and leading if so, he joins a lot of Americans, and Britons, for that matter, wondering about that.

I expect that it’ll work out, we’ve been through far worse, but it is sort of fun to watch the cousins spat.

The  Guardian also has a rather nice article on the new embassy itself. I rather like it. Rather than Ludwig the Mad and Maginot Line, it strikes me as more a Tower of London for the 21 st Century. Castles have improved a bit in the last 1000 years it seems. Although I suspect the Tower will outlive the Embassy, by quite a lot, Ravens willing.



American Revolution 101

"The charter granted by Charles I in 1629...

“The charter granted by Charles I in 1629 authorized the Massachusetts Bay Colony to use a seal, and the impression of an Indian was the one adopted.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As usual, I agree almost completely with what Jess had to say in her fine article earlier today. But not completely because she makes the cardinal error that the British always do about America. So lets talk about it here.

Jess says

Here I will raise hackles. Americans, being the product of a revolution, cannot be true conservatives. America owes its existence to a rebellion against lawfully constituted authority, so American and British Conservatism are bound to differ. Mrs Thatcher was, indeed, the closest Britain has produced to an American style Conservative, but she always was different to many in her party, and the fact that that is true today says nothing about her legacy and everything about the enduring deep-rootedness of native British Conservatism and its respect for the authority of the Crown.

Except that is not quite the true story.

The American colonies were founded by joint-stock companies operating under crown charters, going back to Massachusetts Bay and Virginia, the crown wanted the colonies but didn’t have the money to finance them so they privatised it, so to speak. No Englishmen emigrating to the colonies gave up a jot of their rights as English Freemen (which most were). Remember most of these Charters went back to King James I or II and Charles I and II and their various successors.

So when the Government in Parliament tried to govern without the representation of the colonists it led to trouble. [Traditionally, Parliament had asked the colonial legislatures for support of one kind or another, often military] But now Parliament was attempting to directly tax the colonists, which was new.

And the colonies in their various legislature weren’t buying into the scheme. And so we did revolt, against a Parliament to which we owed no allegiance, appealing to the King in the first instance to affirm our charters.

And we made it stick, by the way.

Oh, and by the way, while we were establishing these colonies, the English dinked around with Regicide, tried a Republic, and finally brought in an illicit King, who gave up all his power to get help in his war as Prince of Orange.

Sorry Jess, You guys are the revolutionaries, we just had a counter-revolution.


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