Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rice Straw might still save us


When British foreign secretary Jack Straw visited US President George Bush recently he left official business behind and went off with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who had invited to entertain him at her home town in Alabama. It is said that they enjoyed a good time together and that Jack Straw has invited her back to Blackburn, Lancashire.

On 21 October the Guardian quoted British officials as saying about this “special relationship”: "This is a chance to spend some real quality time together. It does make a difference if you have good quality relationships at this level. If you're at the sharp end of negotiations, it can make a difference."

Today, the Guardian Newspaper Group has gone a step further. In an article about in-fighting in the British cabinet in the Guardian’s weekend sister paper The Observer Andrew Rawnsley writes: “Deputising for the deputy was Jack Straw, who had only just returned to Britain from his love tryst in Alabama with Condi Rice. The Foreign Secretary, still wiping the lipstick off his collar when he took the chair for the meeting, began by telling his colleagues that he wasn't briefed on the issue…”

Are we soon going to be treated to a revelation that the special relationship between the US and the UK governments is being cemented by a love affair between their representatives? This would, of course be anything but a solid foundation for policy making, because Rice already hinted that she was not going to be faithful. According to the Scotsman “she planned to invite other foreign ministers to undertake similar tours elsewhere in the country”.

So if Jack and Condi eventually fall out with each other over a sidestep with, maybe, Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French minister for foreign affairs [the name is getting a whole new meaning], will this mean that there is finally hope that the special relationship will also come to an end and the UK can start pursuing a foreign policy more beneficial to the British people? Let’s hope so.

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