Thursday, April 18, 2024
HomeStatesideListen carefully, Joe – you don’t govern Britain

Listen carefully, Joe – you don’t govern Britain


Dear Joe,

You’re younger than me . . . nonetheless . . .

Please ask someone to check your hearing aid and make sure you’re awake before they read you this.

There’s probably no need for this reminder to reach most Americans, who know what I’m talking about, while clearly the current White House does not. But heck, what’s wrong with a bit of candour among friends?

Joe, you do not govern the British Isles, nor does the EU from Brussels.

You may not have known that.

Your staff obviously don’t know. Maybe you should get some better people.

As for Brussels, that’s why we voted for Brexit.

I’m a big fan of America, Joe, and spent part of my youth alongside young Americans in combat in Vietnam long before I ever set foot on Hawaii, let alone California. I’ve been welcomed by the White House staff (not your bunch), the Department of State (I think I’m the only British diplomat who helped write part of the State Department’s official history of its role in the Vietnam War – my longest and closest American friend, Ambassador Francis Terry McNamara, escaped down the Ba Sac River in 1975 taking with him 400 Vietnamese, many of them CIA agents and their families. Compare that with anyone living far from Kabul and therefore left behind), the US Navy War College, the 1st Marines, the 173 Airborne Brigade, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division.

Americans and Brits talk to each other. The US Army was surprisingly full of Brits. I can show you photos of two paratroopers and a civilian where the latter is the American. Ellesworth Bunker and I first became friendly at the Anglican church on Sunday mornings, Bill Colby and I struck up a friendship at the Queen’s birthday party and were soon joined by Abe Abrams. That kind of friendship was happening all over the country and surrounding world. Our two navies might as well be one.

As a diplomat I’ve experienced only good fellowship and friendship from my colleagues in the Irish Foreign Service. Years ago in Cyprus I was the instructor for the Cyprus Combined Services Parachute Club and taught free-fall parachuting to young fellows from the Irish battalion with the UN.  We had good relations during the worst times of the Troubles and I know because that was my job.

Irish diplomats my age will remember Sean Kennan. We ended our postings in Canada on the same British Airways flight from Mirabel to London. We were chatting together over a few drinks at the bar on the jumbo when the stewardess asked if we’d mind sitting down – of course, we said, is there turbulence? No, she said, we’re about to land at Heathrow.

Now, Joe, you think the EU is a force for neighbourly good. It’s a menace. My wife and I were often invited to super parties by the Irish Ambassador here in Switzerland and we returned their hospitality. Suddenly the EU ruled no more invites for Brexit Brits. That they had to follow this decree shows you just how the EU is a modern version of the dictators.

Your new girlfriend, Ursula, was defence minister and presided over Vorausschau 2040, the German Army’s strategy independent of Nato for the first time since VE Day. One of your staff can tell you what’s in it but in my humble opinion we need a new US President – fully operational – with whom we can create a global alliance to replace Nato. Because Ursula’s plan makes Nato redundant.

As for Ireland, there are two difficulties for me: they’re neutral and they’re in the EU.

The good news is that since 1922 we’ve had a common travel area with no trade barriers and a joint tax office. We managed to get along with different currencies and rules for 50 years before we made the mistake of joining the EU largely because a bunch of politicians and diplomats were defeatist chickens. When we left the two customs services got together and were coming up with a solution until they were stopped by Ursula and Varadkar. Both ignore the Belfast Agreement, the key element of which is consent from both communities.

Your staff should read this stuff properly, Joe.

If the EU want a customs frontier, that’s not my problem. I wouldn’t do a thing, no customs frontier on the UK side of the border.

Why should mums doing the school run along the back lanes have their days made miserable by a bunch of Eurocrats? As far as I’m concerned the border should be open so that every cat, chicken, cow, dog, donkey, fox, goose, goat and pony may wander at will.  

By the way, Joe . . .

The last Irish American to sing the praises of European dictators against the British people was that old Boston boot-legger, Joe Kennedy.

Today, Joe, you might do well to remember the previous Joe, who opposed Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease because he claimed we’d be defeated and America’s supplies would end up in Hitler’s hands anyway. By giving entirely the wrong signal to the dictators, Joe Kennedy bears some of the blame for all those young Americans who lost their lives over Germany and on the ground and in the seas around Europe. In the Pacific, he nearly lost his own son and the west a great President.

You sound like Joe Kennedy.

I’m old enough to remember those events, and privileged to have known many who risked, and some who lost, their lives. I find the mouthings of a person who spent the Vietnam War fixing his medical deferment extensions rather pathetic.

Nor am I alone on both sides of the Atlantic.

Adrian Hill 

Former soldier and diplomat

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Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill. Former soldier and diplomat, afterwards member of CBI Council and author.

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