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Starmer is turning Britain into a vassal state Labour is beating Nato's drums of war

(JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

(JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)


July 9, 2024   6 mins

It seems fitting that Keir Starmer’s international debut should be the Nato summit that kicks off in Washington, DC today. Ostensibly scheduled as a celebration of the alliance’s 75th anniversary, it will no doubt be remembered as the moment that Britain’s new PM pledged his allegiance to his transatlantic overlords.

Ever since Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2020, he has gone out of his way to purge it of any hint of pacifism and anti-imperialism — and transform Labour, once again, into the “party of Nato”, war and militarism. In opposition, Starmer’s machine unswervingly followed the Conservative government in aligning itself with American foreign policy — voicing support for Nato’s proxy war against Russia, Western expansion into Asia via Aukus, Israel’s campaign in Gaza, and the American-led bombing of Yemen.

To further signal Labour’s loyalty to Washington, Starmer chose David Lammy as his foreign secretary, the Harvard-educated regular visitor to several establishment fora in the US. In 2022, for instance, he attended the annual Bilderberg Meeting, a secretive gathering of US and Western elites, becoming one of only two Labour MPs to have done so over the past decade. Like Starmer, Lammy has been explicit about his unabashedly pro-American and pro-Nato stance. “If I become foreign secretary, I will not hide my transatlanticism,” he told an audience at Chatham House last year. Similarly, John Healey, Starmer’s new defence secretary, is also a long-time supporter of American interventionism, even backing the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Starmer himself also has longstanding connections to the US-UK security complex, even joining the Trilateral Commission, the powerful CIA-linked organisation set up by American billionaire David Rockefeller, while serving as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Brexit secretary. But Starmer had already proven himself partial to American establishment interests during his previous career as a public prosecutor. As head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) from 2008 to 2013, Starmer has been accused of applying the law rather selectively. In 2010 and again in 2012, for instance, he made the controversial decision not to charge MI5 and MI6 agents who faced credible accusations of complicity, alongside American agents, in the kidnapping and torture of various individuals. Starmer also let the police officers involved in the infamous “Spycops” scandal off the hook — a decades-long covert operation in which undercover officers infiltrated more than 1,000 Left-wing political organisations, and even manipulated several women into long-term sexual relationships.

A very different treatment was reserved for alleged “enemies of the state” — especially the American state. Most notably, the CPS under Starmer appears to have played a pivotal role in the Assange case, helping to set in motion the infernal legal machinery that led to the journalist’s 14-year ordeal, which ended only last month. During the period when the CPS was overseeing Assange’s case, Starmer made several trips to Washington, meeting with attorney general Eric Holder and a host of American and British national security officials. What they discussed has never been revealed, though the CPS has admitted to destroying key emails relating to the Assange case, mostly covering the period when Starmer was director.

For his service, Starmer was knighted in 2014, and elected as an MP a year later. In 2016, following Corbyn’s win in the party’s leadership election, he was nominated shadow Brexit secretary. In that position, he was instrumental in overturning the party’s stance on the European Union, advocating for Labour to back a second referendum — a position that alienated many Brexit supporters and significantly contributed to Labour’s defeat in the 2019 election.

And yet, following Corbyn’s resignation, Starmer found himself at Labour’s helm, from where he took it upon himself to “deradicalise” the party, purging it of any socialist and anti-militarist elements. As Oliver Eagleton explains in The Starmer Project, since becoming leader, Starmer has conducted “a merciless crackdown on the mildest forms of internal dissent” — blocking Left-wing candidates from standing for Parliament, proscribing various socialist groups, and targeting MPs and local members who are critical of Nato or Israel (including several Jews).

Given all this, the foreign-policy vision outlined in Labour’s manifesto was hardly surprising. “As the party that founded Nato, we maintain our unshakeable commitment to the alliance”, the document states. This means, first and foremost, fully endorsing Nato’s war against Russia. “With Labour, the UK’s military, financial, diplomatic and political support for Ukraine will remain steadfast,” we are told, including by “play[ing] a leading role in providing Ukraine with a clear path to Nato membership”.

Disconcertingly for anyone concerned about the prospect of escalation, the manifesto also outlines the need to militarise the entire UK economy in preparation for a full-scale war on the continent. This includes a “total commitment” to the UK’s submarine-based nuclear weapons programme, which Starmer said he would be willing to use in principle. Labour is equally committed to moving in lockstep with the US over China by maintaining a steadfast commitment to Aukus, the trilateral security partnership with Australia and the US, and being prepared to “challenge” China. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, the manifesto explains that Britain’s role as America’s vassal-in-chief will continue regardless of whoever occupies the White House: “The United States is an indispensable ally. Our special relationship is crucial for security and prosperity, and transcends whatever political parties and individuals are in office.”

On this point, the good news is that if Donald Trump should return to the White House and decide to bring the Russia-Ukraine conflict to a close, as he has hinted, the UK would likely follow suit. But it’s also revealing of the extent to which Britain’s ruling elites have internalised the UK’s role as a subordinate to American interests. This is a stance that clearly runs contrary to any notion of the British national interest, unless one assumes the geopolitical interests of the two countries to be always automatically aligned, which is clearly not the case.

Unlike the US, which is a massive continental power with huge military capabilities and a great potential for economic self-reliance, the UK, as a small open economy with relatively underwhelming conventional military capacities, has an obvious interest, for example, in avoiding an all-out war with its Russian neighbour, and maintaining friendly economic relations with the non-Western world, first and foremost China. In this sense, the UK elites’ obsession for the “special relationship” is really just a cover for their abdication of the national interest.

“The UK elites’ obsession for the ‘special relationship’ is really just a cover for their abdication of the national interest.”

The rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn, and Labour’s subsequent pro-US realignment under Starmer, thus reveals a much bigger story than just a successful coup at the hands of the party’s Right, or the British establishment more in general; rather, it should be seen as an epiphenomenon of the UK’s vassal-like relationship to the US — and the limited sovereignty this entails. In his recent book Vassal State: How America Runs Britain, Angus Hanton shows the extent to which US corporations own and control much of the British economy, and how this has resulted in Britain adopting economic policies that align with US interest, often to the detriment of its own economic sovereignty. But the US’s influence over the UK extends well beyond the economic realm.

In intelligence and military terms, the UK is much more heavily reliant on the US than the public realises, leading to the country’s de facto strategic dependence on Washington. Even the UK’s nuclear arsenal is under the complete control of Uncle Sam. This goes a long way to explaining why Britain’s foreign policy, and its security policy in general, has consistently followed American strategic objectives, demonstrating a clear pattern of subordination. This includes the UK’s participation in the long list of 21st-century American foreign policy blunders — in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya among others — for which the UK paid a high price in terms of blowback.

America’s influence over the British policy establishment is further compounded by an intellectual ecosystem — comprising a wide array of think tanks, lobby groups and media enterprises — that is heavily controlled by the US intelligence and security complex. For example, one of America’s most hawkish think tanks, the RAND Corporation, financed by the US government and military-industrial complex, is among the organisations that has the biggest impact on the British policymaking process. The US also directly funds several British think tanks: the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), for instance, the UK’s leading defence and security think tank, is funded by the US State Department.

Britain’s subordination to the US, and its establishment’s commitment to the prioritisation of American interests, also has serious implications for Britain’s democratic process. Indeed, implicit in the unprecedented fearmongering and vilification campaign directed against Corbyn is the existence of an unspoken rule whereby the UK’s American-aligned foreign policy is not up for democratic deliberation.

The result, as we’ll no doubt witness in the coming days, is a British government that appears less sovereign than it’s ever been. Over the next three days, expect Starmer to rubberstamp Nato’s calls for the endless protraction of the war in Ukraine, the boosting of the “European pillar” of Nato, and the blocs expansion into the Asia Pacific. As will quickly become clear, despite all the talk of Brexit being about “taking back control”, Starmer’s Britain seems destined to become even more of a vassal state.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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David McKee
David McKee
13 days ago

Well, finally. Thomas Fazi has gone full-on loony left. This piece could have been written by Owen Jones. In fact, I’m not so sure it hasn’t.

It has everything for the budding conspiracy theorist. Bilderburg, destroyed e-mails, covert funding (which he reveals with breathless outrage), meetings with Americans…

Honestly! All this subservience, and the ungrateful Americans _still_ won’t sign a trade agreement with us!

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
13 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

So is any of it not correct?

Geoff W
Geoff W
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

I’m not sure as to all the details. But the UK has been dependent on the US militarily since about 1940. I don’t know that there are any other options.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff W

As DeGaulle realised, another option is to be independent militarily and not depend on the USA. This is particularly the case once the Cold War ended.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The Cold War hasn’t ended; the enemy has just become a lot more sophisticated. And it was easy to be “independent militarily” when there were hundreds of thousands of NATO troops handily stationed between France and the Soviet bloc.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

If that’s really the case, why did France rejoin NATO after de Gaulle left office (fully rejoining in 2009) ?

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

It made a huge mistake.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

So show me the evidence for that.
Is there popular support in France for leaving NATO ? Yes, there’s a hard-wired anti-American streak in much of France. But that’s not at all the same thing as a desire to leave NATO.
From what I can see, France seems quite keen on things like joint military cooperation with countries like the UK.
Also, you can’t follow an isolationist defence policy when you’re the world’s second largest defence exporter (as France is). Domestic demand is way too low to support a defence industry on that scale.

Geoff W
Geoff W
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Which wars has France won since 1945?

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff W

Or the USA?

Geoff W
Geoff W
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The Cold War. Though they may have thrown away the victory.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Would that be the France whose military have just abandoned central Africa with their tails between their legs?

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff W

The UK is not entirely dependent though. It does have an arms industry of its own.

Geoff W
Geoff W
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

OK. The UK has been not entirely a vassal state of the USA since about 1940.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff W

Undoubtedly the case but once the Cold War finished it was no longer necessary

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The Cold War never finished, it merely paused. Resuming it is Putin’s raison d’etre.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

It may be correct on some details. But the problem is that his big picture view of the world and Britain’s place and interests within it is utterly deluded.
He appears to take a rather juvenile view that there’s some perfect scenario out there we could choose if only we were smart/determined enough to do so.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

No…he takes the view that “other scenarios are available”.
In due course one of those will be essential

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

What is loony about describing the situation accurately? I don’t know who Owen Jones is but I doubt if he writes as well or with as much insight as Thomas Fazi. The current global political situation is scary and made even more so by an elderly and infirm individual in the WH. Regardless of whether you are pro- or anti-NATO, the West is rudderless when it desperately needs good leadership. Countries like Germany, Britain and France must assert themselves vis a vis the US in the interests of their countries and of Europe. The manner in which Germany, in particular, collapsed under US pressure after the invasion of Ukraine (even the destruction of Germany’s pipeline did not stir the Germans) should be of concern to everyone in Europe. I’m not happy about that ghastly war, any more, I suspect, than you are but backing Ukraine (as wretched a state as you will find anywhere) is a dead end (literally for far too many people).

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
13 days ago

I don’t know about all this “vassal state” business. The US and the UK are closest of friends, partners, and brothers-in-arms. No one in the US sees the UK as anything less than an equal partner and beloved as the source of our shared national heritage. We trust the UK implicitly and seek to contribute where possible, and also to receive, when that is appropriate.

This is the core of all healthy relationships. So is it with our two nations.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
12 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

“no-one in the US…” except the ones who actually matter…and that surely isn’t the general populace..

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
12 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I do not think they take us seriously at all

Martin M
Martin M
13 days ago

What a load of waffle. Even the most myopic in the West are starting to realise that Russia is a “forever enemy”, and that preparations must be made accordingly. Even George Monbiot, a Lefty Peacenik if there ever was one, recently wrote an article in the Guardian in which he advocated rearmament to deal with the Russian threat.

Skin Shallow
Skin Shallow
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Yes all of this. Backing Ukraine as such might be a dead end itself, but ignoring the threat Russia poses to the Eastern and some Central European countries on  NATO’s Eastern flank seems frankly deluded. The US did not start a covert war with Russia, Russia invaded Ukraine as a massive escalation in the aggressive process that started in 2014. It also has a lot of propagandist fingers in many online discourse pies and while I’m partial to the argument for lessening the UK’s vassal status in relation to the US overall (we certainly could have done without Iraq for example), the take on Russia here feels like dictated verbatim from Moscow.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
12 days ago

For such an articulate critic of the oppression of Lockdown, Fazi is curiously unconcerned about the threat from the oppressive Chinese regime. Britain has been better off as a vassal state of the US than it would be as one of China’s. Small and middle ranking powers must pick a side, or one will be picked for them.

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Personally, I think that Russia is the greater threat than China, but I take your point.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

It is the US which starts the wars not Russia or China!

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
12 days ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Please share your insight with the Ukraine, India, Tibet, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan,and so on. I am confident that I’ve missed someone, and in the case of the last four, it’s not open war but military intrusions into territory held by international treaty to be the possessions of the respective states.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Have you seen the list of how many of its neighbours Russia has invaded? Must be at least 40.

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
12 days ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

One might want to examine France’s role in Korea, Vietnam, Algeria and of course Dunkirk and many other places before condemning the U.S.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I’m no fan of China either but the piece is about British subservience to the US. How can Britain and the rest of Europe, or as I call it, the western tip of Eurasia (we had better get used to new geopolitical realities), address the new geopolitical realities unless they stop acting solely in the interest of the US, which is contributing to global tensions by acting the way Austria-Hungary did in 1914, i.e., threatening to bring the whole world down with them?

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

Well, one thing they should be doing is spending more of their GDP on their militaries.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

We need to spend more on defence as we should be an armed neutral rather than continue trying to wing it with no defence capabilities but in general, no, it’s not the answer. Economic and political power is shifting east where the countries and/or their populations are enormous. The West has to adjust to that shift in power but is struggling to do so. That is the root cause of much of the tension.

A D Kent
A D Kent
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

The trouble with just flinging money at defence is that we don’t have the military industrial base to compete with the Russians, let alone the Chinese. What makes this worse – and probably insurmountable – is that what money we do spend is squandered on junk like the F-35s and obsolete missile targets like aircraft carriers. The West’s weapons are made by a few, massive corporations more interested in profitable, but delicate systems not suitabble for any kind of prolonged conflict. The sooner we realise how badly outclassed we are the better we can begin to act accordingly.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I agree. I’m not a supporter of the military industrial complex in any shape, size or form but, even if I was, the loss of so much manufacturing to the East (which should never have been allowed to happen) has fundamentally changed the military capacity of the West. During WW2 (and especially after Pearl Harbour), the US had the economic, industrial and financial capacity to underpin the war in Europe (including on the Russian front) and Asia, and fund, staff and complete the enormously expensive Manhattan Project. They could not do that today as a result of their and the West’s shortsighted approach to globalisation.

mike otter
mike otter
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

Well they found the money for the Covid scam so i expect the resources are there – but is the ability and motivation?

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  mike otter

The resources weren’t there. The Covid spend just added to Britain’s debt, which they are now saddled with.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
12 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

That’s an excellent point. Defence procurement and armaments design and production need a complete overhaul. It’s interesting that in a related industry, SpaceX has managed to completely upend the incumbents, smash the cartel, and dramatically lower costs and improve delivery, so it can be done.

mike otter
mike otter
12 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Type 45s, 26s, S80 submarine and ofc F35 are huge benefit schemes to keep the good people of Stevenage, Bristol and Portsmouth off the dole. As was Clansman, Ptarmigan and Swordfish back in the day. I am not complaining as i have customers on these projects who are good payers, but i am concerned about our armed services in general and their tech equipent in particular.
Its not fit for purpose in modern assymetical warfare and i doubt its as good as the Russian or Chinese equivalent on a conventional battlefield.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Wouldn’t it be better to make it crystal clear to the Russians that the moment they cross a NATO border their supply line gets nuked? It’s worked since 1945 and has only stopped working because they don’t believe our elites have the cojones to do it.

Apart from anything else that’s a lot cheaper than pretending we’re going to fight them in a conventional war.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

Armed neutrality is a weak reed on which to stake one’s future. It worked for Switzerland and Sweden in WWII because Germany got what it needed from them without the costs of invasion and occupation. The only way to stay independent of expanding powers which have big sticks is to have one yourself or ally oneself with the most congenial power that has one.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

Ever considered that their interests are pretty much Britain’s interests, and their enemies are our enemies.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
12 days ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

I think he’s too busy trying to “raise our awareness” of geopolitics than to consider the obvious.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

See this I don’t understand. Please provide evidence that Western Europe only ever acts in Washington’s interest. That fundamentally makes no sense, why would any country only ever act in the interest of another over their own. It seems to me that the weight of history and the actual evidence points to the opposite, the US has terrible deeply self-interested allies who simply have their hands out.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
12 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The hands moved a bit towards the wallet with Trump’s threats. If he follows through on his campaign rhetoric Western Europe will have to open its wallets wide if effective resistance to Russian expansion is the objective.

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

We are all the English. Britain, the U.S, Australia, New Zealand and yes fair bit of Canada. If you think that ‘Others’ are your friends ready to truck and barter you really need to study history.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
12 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

In the Cold War Britain was a staunch ally of the USA. Repeatedly, Britain sacrificed its own diplomatic and commercial interests, deferring to US interests. Yet, relatively speaking, it was those European nations that were more circumspect that did best out of their relationship with the USA.

At a low point of UK-USA relations (Wilson’s “We regard our relation with you not as a special relationship but as a close relationship, governed by the only things that matter” speech) the UK failed to support US escalation in Vietnam. The USA publicly pressurised the UK and others to send troops under the “more flags” campaign but the UK did not yield. We were asked, no, threatened, to pick a side and we did not. The Vietnam war left a huge scar on US society, one we avoided precisely because we refused to pick a side.

Always picking a side is childish, it’s how children view the world. Adult behaviour is usually more nuanced. The irony is, it was our child like unquestionong support for USA trade policy that created the monster that is China. It was the USA that insisted China be admitted to the WTO without any reform. It was the USA that pressured the EU to abandon tariffs that protected Western industries from Chinese competition. It was the USA that turned itself and the entire West into one huge market for Chinese goods for the simple reason that our current account deficits – our impoverishment – would be recycled into US Treasuries and support US deficit spending.

We can add the failures in the Middle East and Afghanistan to the list of catastrophes that could have been avoided if we’d not picked a side.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You really think that the UK’s attitude to China trade policy made a crucial difference ? China would have risen anyway, regardless of the UK position. We don’t move the needle in influencing international trade.
You really think that life would be better in the UK and Europe if we’d engaged in protectionism and supported inefficient industries here ? And let consumers pay far higher prices ?
Aside: the US only got into Vietnam because the French totally ballsed it up in the 1950s (as with most French decolonisations). Yes, the Americans dug a very deep hole, but the French started the job.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“or the simple reason that our current account deficits – our impoverishment – would be recycled into US Treasuries and support US deficit spending”
I assume you mean that China would invest the profits from trade with the UK in US government bonds allowing the US to continue to live beyond its means?

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Of course countries should act in their own interests, but protecting ourselves from hostile powers requires US support, and to get US support countries must do at least some of the things the US wants. European powers gave up national sovereignty through european integration, which was in line with US policy. They opened their markets up to US multinationals. West Germany in particular facilitated a US military occupation of their country, and West Germany and Italy effectively abandoned an independent foreign policy altogether. There were benefits for the European nations in all this, but they absolutely picked a side. Your point about Chinese trade would be more compelling if Europe had been more circumspect about opening up to China. But it was quite the opposite.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Totally agree, we can see this happening again in Ukraine where the US/Victoria Nuland was instrumental in regime change. I understand the US may have been behind the attempted coup in Bolivia recently! We really need to distance ourselves before the US causes WW3…

Matt M
Matt M
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You miss out the bit just before the Cold War when the USA saved Britain from subjugation by the Nazis. If we were junior partners of the US in the years after the war, even to the extent of occasionally acting against our own interest, it hardly pays them back for coming to our defence in our darkest hour.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago

Excellent piece, and to think that Harold Wilson refused to join the Vietnam War. British sovereignty vis-a-vis the US has collapsed.

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

That was the point at which Australia took over as the country which turned up to all the US’ wars (Vietnam, Gulf 1, Gulf 2, Afghanistan).

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

A position the UK has now resumed.

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael Clarke

It’s good to have a substitute on the bench.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
12 days ago

Forever poodles, yet supporting the neocons’ proxy war in the Ukraine had caused the UK unprecedented impact.
The Tories caught the brunt of the social impact but Labour is slightly marred by today’s elision between neoconservatism and traditional US support for Israel. That will embolden the Left and maintain a party fracture.
Lucky for them the Left today is also a neocon cheerleader- damage limitation, at least til Trump gets in (if?)

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Fortunately many of those on the Left realise that the biggest threat to the Free World is Russia, and are prepared to act accordingly.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

More likely it’s China. But they’re both on the list. Russia’s the “urgent” problem, but China’s the potentially more “important” one going forwards (unless Chinese policies change).

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

More likely it’s the WEF traitors running western nations.

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

When Xi dies (which he will one day), the CCP will chose another leader, who will probably be a bit more moderate. When Putin dies (which he will do one day) who knows who will take over, but the chances of it being a gangster in the Putin mould will be high.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 days ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

‘Westminster or Davos?’

‘Davos’ every time.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

“Starmer is turning Britain into a vassal state”
Oh, come on! He’s been in office less than a week. This sort of headline simply makes Unherd look ridiculous.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

“Nato’s war against Russia”
A facile, Moscow-lite, talking point.
Whatever legitimate debate there might be over the merits of Western foreign policy, relations with Russia, and Nato expansion, the war that’s being prosecuted currently was and remains an unprovoked act of aggression by one state (Russia) towards another (Ukraine).

Tony Price
Tony Price
12 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Absolutely correct! Also the statement that Trump would/could ‘end’ the war – how about Ukraine’s thoughts on the subject? On the day after the Russians bomb a children’s hospital, maybe the Ukrainians aren’t so keen on rolling over and surrendering to the Russian brutal war machine.

Point of Information
Point of Information
12 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

No doubt Fazi – and others who comically describe themselves as “realists” while denying the reality in front of their eyes that Russia invaded Ukraine and proclaiming with Putin that it was “self-defence” – thinks Nato forced Russia to bomb that childrens’ hospital, by doing something unspeakably provocative and criminal like reinforcing its members’ borders.

Yuri G
Yuri G
12 days ago

Of course, never mind that the convenient timely (just before Nato Summit’s discussion of Ukrainian air defense capabilities) “bombing” of children’s hospital according to many reliable sources was a result of a fallen US-made air defense missile, or that bombing without any serious injuries does not compare to the Israeli-US bomb-ing of a major Palestinian hospital with thousands of dead.

Tony Price
Tony Price
12 days ago
Reply to  Yuri G

Reliable sources in the Kremlin, 1,000 miles (or whatever) away! Your Gaza comment does not even warrant a reply

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
12 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You are ignorant on this point, try reading from better sources.
The US totally started this war. They felt threatened by Germany’s cosy (cheap oil) relationship with Russia. The US/CIA were involved with the coup that overthrew a legitimate elected ruler, then encouraged Ukraine to join NATO. The US are self-interested scum who will kill us all to protect its profits and power. Why not Google Victoria Nuland? The Youtube video clearly shows her choosing the Ukrainian stooge.

Peter Rechniewski
Peter Rechniewski
12 days ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Better sources than your YouTube video of Victoria Nuland? That’s easy but what are your other “better sources” ? Jeffrey Sachs, Chomsky, The Duran ?

Tony Price
Tony Price
12 days ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

You seem to have forgotten that actually Russia started the war by invading Ukraine, firstly in 2014 and then in 2022.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago

Grow up, Mr. Fazi.
Another day, another juvenile dig at the US.
And give the bloke a chance. He’s only been in the job a few days. How can he possibly be “turning the UK into a vassal state” in that time ?
The reality is that nothing has changed and that this government is – so far – simply continuing the long-standing UK foreign policy of being a close US and NATO ally. Which is what the electorate repeatedly ask for. So what exactly is the problem here ?
Yes, we sometimes overshoot. And Labour under Blair were far too enthusiastic to demonstrate their loyalty and obviously bad stuff like Iraq 2 and extraordinary rendition happened.
But seriously, what’s the alternative ? Is the US really a greater threat to us than China or Russia ?

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree that Iraq 2 shouldn’t have happened (although that is because Saddam Hussein should have been deposed and killed during Iraq 1).

j watson
j watson
12 days ago

Fairly standard Putin supporting article from Fazi. All the vassal state stuff straight out of the FBS propaganda warfare playbook too.
Recognising UK security inextricably linked with the US and NATO is not some new phenomena. It goes back 8 decades. Author seems to have a limited grasp of realpolitik. His more open sympathy for Corbyn very illuminating.
As regards ‘escalation’ – deterrence is going to require the threat of escalation to get Putin to recognise he needs to move his position. You deter with strength not weakness. He’s holding out hoping for Trump to force Ukraine to accept unviable borders and settlement. Trump, for all his twaddle, actually been a little more aligned with the US military/security consensus on this which is support Ukraine, strengthen their position, ready for an armistice with viable border position and security guarantees. Putin may well be disappointed, and no doubt Fazi too.
Likes of Fazi, and Farage similar, too much invested in their Putin wasn’t to blame narrative. It’s total rubbish and shameful.

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Completely agree with you. Until the mandatory Farage dig (a slur actually).
What Farage actually said (rather than what you imply he said) is that Putin was to blame. He actually said that some Western actions had given Putin more scope to claim he had a case for invading Ukraine – not that invading Ukraine was justified or right. You’re easily bright enough to recognise the distinction.
He also fully supports Ukraine. He also said in 2014 that EU meddling in Ukraine would likely lead to war. This was obvious (to me at least) at the time. And he’s been proved correct. 2014 was the time when Gordon Brown put forward the totally unqualified and incompetent Cathy Ashton to be the first EU foreign policy gofer. And she started meddling in Ukraine with no understanding of what she was doing.
Farage’s position is really no different from those who blamed the government for their policy failures over the Falklands up to 1982 and then got firmly behind the government after the Argentine invasion – i.e. most of us in the Falklands War case. We carelessly created a scenario where Galtieri and co though they could get away with it.

j watson
j watson
12 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

I don’t ‘buy’ it at all PB. He may seek more beneficial interpretations but he’s just wrong. EU wasn’t meddling. And the West didn’t give Putin any potential excuses. Ukraine was a sovereign state. The fact he suggests both means at best he’s a useful idiot to Putin and just lacks judgment in public statements on such matters. At worst he’s an apologist, has a liking for the strong man persona nonsense and might even secretly hope the FBS does him a few favours.
If he wanted to say anything about the matter he should have been forceful that we cannot appease and must push back hard at aggression. Not commence his statements with why we might need to share the blame.
Don’t let a liking for some of the rest of Farage’s schtick blind you to what his immediate reflex was. That reflex is very informative.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

If he wanted to say anything about the matter he should have been forceful that we cannot appease and must push back hard at aggression. 
So long as it’s not your kids that have to die, eh, Colonel Blimp?

Peter B
Peter B
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

As I noted, the situation is analagous to the Falklands invasion in 1982. Most people criticised the government’s conduct leading up to the invasion. But strongly supported recovering the Falkland Islands. You do not seem to dispute this analogy.
Farage’s analysis in 2014 was spot on. His judgement was absolutely correct.
And he never claimed that we need to “share the blame”. You’re making that bit up.
And yes, the EU did start meddling in Ukraine pre-2014. Fact. I’ve already told you about Cathy Ashton’s “achievements” as the EU’s so-called “high representative for foreign affairs and security policy” from 2009-2014. Do check out her qualifications for that role as the EU’s top diplomat (aside from knowing Gordon Brown). You would have been better qualified.
And yes, show me any complex situation where EU meddling and incompetence has ever done anything other than make the situation worse. Yugoslavia ? Kosovo ? Northern Ireland (attempting to exploit this during Brexit negotiations really showed their true colours – they don’t care about peace there at all). Mass illegal migration through North Africa and Turkey (let’s try buying off the Turks with some danegeld …).

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Rather, it’s your reflexive dismissal of a valid point via another slur that’s informative.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Agreed – the substance and beliefs of useful idiots hasn’t changed much since Lenin coined the term. Bullies like Putin and Xi laugh at the views of Fazi etc al and are v pleased such naïvity exists in the West. It strengthens their positions with no effort.

R Wright
R Wright
12 days ago

This comments section is proof that the neocon element still has some life left in it, even after the Blair disaster and Libya. How bleak.

Martin M
Martin M
12 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Well, I’m here, and I’m probably what you would describe as a “neocon”, although I don’t use the term myself.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
12 days ago

And there was I thinking Stsrmer has planted his flag establishing Britain as a vassal of the Blair Foundation.

John Riordan
John Riordan
12 days ago

This argument very much depends upon the extent to which the UK is forced to diverge from its own national interest as part of its American alliance. The fact of this is asserted above, but not quantified.

The comparator, obviously, is EU membership, which the UK (correctly) voted out of recently, as the EU moves to completion of political union: it would be useful to understand what the relative sacrifices of sovereignty look like when compared side by side. I suspect the comparison might provide some useful perspective.

Had the same observations been made of NATO and the American alliance prior to 1989, I suspect most reasonable people would scoff at the concerns raised above, given that the overriding geopolitical reality of the day was that the USSR must not see weakness in western Europe no matter what the costs. This was the right choice, and this isn’t only obvious with the benefit of hindsight, it was pretty bloody obvious at the time, too.

I am not one of those pub bores who harp on about what Europe supposedly owes Britain because of the two world wars of the 20th century, but I will make the point that Europe does owe America a lot for NATO, and we should not forget it.

Göran Rosenberg
Göran Rosenberg
12 days ago

Wow. I didn’t know for sure that I was subscribing to a pro-Putin journal, now I do. “Nato’s proxy war against Russia”? “Western expansion into Asia”? A vassal state of Russia or China then?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
12 days ago

You’re not… just one of its writers. That’s the point, surely? The tendency to cast an entire platform into the bin for doing what it says on the tin isn’t at all useful.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
12 days ago

I’m no fan of Starmer and think Lammy is an over-educted idiot. But is Starmer wrong on this? I can think of worse allies than the US.
Corbyn didn’t need Starmer to oust him, the grown-ups among the British public did that.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

“Unlike the US, which is a massive continental power with huge military capabilities and a great potential for economic self-reliance, the UK, as a small open economy with relatively underwhelming conventional military capacities”

Listen my cousins across the pond it’s time for a hard truth for you to hear this sentence above outlines it all. In the days of the 19th and 20th centuries when the UK was an empire that spanned across the globe and consisted of a 1/4 of the worlds population you did have the opportunity of national independence and to set your own course. But the ugly fact of the matter is that in this day and age of continent spanning super nations the small countries of Europe don’t have the people or the resources to be able to compete with the countries like Russia, China or the US militarily or even really economically to a large extent.

There is a wonderful episode of Yes Prime Minister where the PM realizes that in the event of a war with the Soviets it is expected his country will be able to last 12 hours in a conventional fight before he has to decide to use nukes. This isn’t because the British Royal Army wasn’t well trained enough or capable enough it is just the sheer reality that when facing an alliance of countries that at the time controlled 1/3 of the worlds land and population the island fortress of Britain would not be able to hold out long.

Leaving the EU was quite a sensible decision in my opinion as the people and institutions of the UK were incompatible with the folks on the continent especially dominated as it was largely by Berlin and Paris, but that means the UK has to choose where it’s future lies. It can continue to try and force it’s own way and it will become increasingly marginalized as the EU won’t want to play ball, and the US will end up just find another ally that is more cooperative. Or Britannia can accept that by rejecting the EU they have de facto chosen to align themselves with the US and start working within that framework.

Of course if the UK wants to she can always follow in the steps of our perfect older sister Canada and decide to subjugate herself to the CCP, which if you think a relationship with the US is demanding you’re in for a rude wake up embracing Bejing, as they are a harsh and domineering master as Castro Jr. has discovered. Mark my words if you choose that route there will come a day when you see your monarch kissing the ring literally and metaphorically of the Red Premier, and will look around and wonder where it all went wrong.

Or of course the last option is pull the flag out of the closet, get the King to step up and be back about the business of empire. India probably isn’t in the cards any time in the near future but you might be able to get the Maple leaf people back under the rule of the Crown.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
12 days ago

(1) Reasonable tax rates, (2) a strong social welfare state, and (3) a strong military with strategic independence.

Choose any two, you cannot have all three. (But if you’re incompetent you might not even get both of the two your chose.)

Arthur G
Arthur G
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

When you have 25-30% of your working age population out of the economy, it’s clear that your social welfare state is too strong.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

In what universe are we independent of the US? Not sure you can blame Starmer for clinging to the skirts of a continent-sized Anglophone super-power. What else is there?

mike otter
mike otter
12 days ago

Well its not like UK is Hoenickers GDR in thrall to the Soviets, and UK economy has as much ownership from China, Germany and Arab states as it does from USA. Overall its encouraging that Starmer is pro NATO. Lets hope he can bring his party with him, as i suspect there is still a lot of anti-British hate in the more leftwing sections of Labour, particularly the part that glamourises terrorism.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
12 days ago

We are not a vassal state of the US. Of course, it is possible to behave like one. But the UK has an interest in perpetuating the alliance that has delivered peace. To help perpetuate the alliance it should invest heavily in defence: land, air, sea, space , AI etc. Emphasising defence means taking a clear view of expenditure, and reforming it with a view to:
cutting waste. maximising growth. Ensuring that working people retain as much of their earnings as possible. Simplifying the tax system, so it is transparent, and all contribute.Delivering revenues, which are targeted for a few, specific purposes.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

All this presupposes a competent and patriotic political class, which we don’t have.
So, time to spend time with friends, catch up on those good books, and generally take refuge in private affairs.

P Branagan
P Branagan
12 days ago

Comments on the West by 2 great
American thinkers:
1. ‘How much evidence is required before it is clear that Western Civilization is empty of integrity, judgment, reason, morality, empathy, compassion, self-awareness, truth, empty of everything that Western Civilization once respected?

All that is left of the West is insouciance and unrestrained evil.”

~Dr Paul Craig Roberts, former Undersecretary Of Treasury, Reagan Administration

2. Samuel P. Huntington observed: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.

One can now only question whether the West’s superiority in applying organised violence over 4 centuries still holds in the 3rd decade of the 21st century.

0 0
0 0
12 days ago
Reply to  P Branagan

To which one could add the several tomes of French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd on the internal weaknesses of Western culture especially the tendencies of its elites.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

“Labour to back[ed] a second referendum…[this] significantly contributed to Labour’s defeat in the 2019 election.”

Erm hate to burst your Corbyn bubble but this isn’t why labour lost

This whole article is peppered with left wing conspiratorial language like ‘military industrial complex’ and the usual lefty lie about America being in control of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Much as I dislike Starmer and Lammy this piece is a bit 6th form-y for me

0 0
0 0
12 days ago

All true, significant and well appraised. More could be added in relation to other risks abroad increased by acting at the behest of Washington and even seeking to anticipate its wishes. It’s the powder keg the new Government has chosen to sit us upon.

David Barnett
David Barnett
12 days ago

More importantly, 67% of the voters voted against Labour. In other words, they cannot claim a mandate for ANY sweeping changes without a referendum.
It is worse than that. A recent poll asked why Labour voters voted Labour. Only 5% said they were voting for Labour policies. In other words, support for Labour policies amongst those who voted was just 1.6%.
Still worse, turnout was just 60%. That is, positive support for Labour policy is under 1% in the country. Labour has no mandate for its manifesto.
Sir Kier, if you want to make any big changes you had better hold a referendum. Anything less will be catastrophically divisive.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Dear god no . Referendums are what’s catastrophically divisive.
Either referendums end up being on topics the general public does not care about (e.g. the AV vote), making turnout low (and what little you do get proxies for something else) and the results ambiguously legitimate or the public does care, you end up with a country riven by tribal identities for or against. Whatever your stance on Brexit, the phase when everyone was first and foremost a ‘Brexiteer’ or a ‘Remoaner’ was miserable and stifled all other political action. It lasted years.
Referendums should be an absolute last resort.
A government should govern. Purely in terms of the national interest, I’d rather an effective government I disagree with than years of political paralysis and acrimony. There is a harm in-itself of nobody being able make difficult decisions.

David Barnett
David Barnett
10 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Starmer has on his agenda fundamental anti-democratic constitutional changes which no one except the entrenched elites want. I argue that Parliament has no legitimate authority to do these things. Further, the changes will make it impossible to repeal the unwanted measures via teh ballot box. What do you think happens when a frustrated, angry, aching population has no institutional remedy?
———————-
P.S. Hint: The best case scenario is 1776 America. But it could easily be 1789 France, or worse.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
12 days ago

Fazi seems to have completely failed to spot how Germany’s cunning plan of keeping good relations with Russia through trade ended with Russia using gas as a weapon against a country Putin saw as weak and vulnerable.
So it’s no surprise that he thinks “maintaing good economic relations” with China is a winning strategy. China will soon be using it’s control of the world’s mineral resources – essential for decarbonising the grid – just like Russia used gas.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
12 days ago

I don’t know why Tiresome Thomas goes to such lengths to document the ways and means that make the U.S. and the U.K. the most natural of allies, and how, for perfectly obvious economic and military reasons, the U.S. is primus inter pares amongst all of its allies, and then whinges repeatedly about the U.K.‘s ‘vassal’ status. My country, Canada, is a natural ally of both the U.S. and the U.K., too (in spite of being chronically remiss in its NATO dues ). But I guess Juno beach was just another act of vassalage on this country’s part.
If subordinate is the right word for this state of affairs ( and it could be ), TT appears to favour being subordinate to the Russians and the Chinese. If it makes little sense to TT that the English-speaking peoples have natural bonds, then he might begin to clear his head by recognizing that they all, you know, speak English.

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
12 days ago

It’s not really a vassal state if it suits the national interest, vassal sounds imposed, the alliance suits both parties, same for Canada. I can’t imagine why Canada would want to split from the US when it’s so economically alligned, shares a huge border and share mostly the same values. Canada doesn’t do it’s share of military spending, however the US has access to the north of the continent for it’s security. Call it a mutually beneficial vassal state.

Rex Adams
Rex Adams
11 days ago

What a load of codswallop !

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

Talk about seek out disconnected bits of information to create a narrative to support your world view prejudices. I’m glad we are standing with Ukraine , past mistakes don’t justify doing nothing when a great wrong is committed.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

Britain has been a vassal of USA since Lend-Lease. The USA has never wanted UK (or Europe, for that matter) to have a successful defence industry (TSR2, remember) or aerospace industry (Concorde or Comet). Even worse, our abject treatment of Assange at USA´s bidding has been shameful. Could it get any worse under Starmer? I think not – UK is well on the way to becoming the 51st state.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
9 days ago

This is an excellent article, though I am curious as to why it appears only once a Labour government comes to power. Submission to the US has been an unquestioned and unquestionable primary motif of UK foreign policy since Thatcher. Fact is that what made British membership of the EU so difficult was precisely that both Tory and Labour governments mistook US interests as indistinguishable from British interests.