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Britain's Defense Secretary resigns leaving serious questions to be answered

Resignation lays bare close connections between America and Britain's hard right.
Liam foxEnlarge
(CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

Britain's Defense Secretary Liam Fox resigned on Friday. Normally I wouldn't bother to blog the news. Cabinet resignations over bad personal judgment are a regular occurrence in Britain. But this one is different because it lays bare the smoldering connections between the hard right in America and the hard right in Britain.

Fox was forced to hand in his papers after more than a week of revelations about his close friend and confidante, Adam Werrity.

Werrity traveled the world with a business card made up to look like it was an official British Ministry of Defence card. He claimed to be a special adviser to Fox.

The special adviser bit was true. But the official bit wasn't. He didn't work for the MoD in any capacity.

Britain's civil service provides all Cabinet ministers with staff. Unlike the U.S., outsiders cannot be appointed to be chief of staff or special adviser. This keeps old friends' at arms length - and is meant to protect cabinet secretaries from charges of cronyism in their decision making.

Werrity was however Fox's best friend and seemed to be at his pal's side on his many, many trips abroad. He was also the only other man in the room when Fox met on official business with people in Dubai and other places where the wealthy gather in the sunshine to do business. Normally an MoD official would be in the room to take notes for the record.

In the initial phase of the scandal there were a lot of raised eyebrows about what a 50-year old political veteran like Fox was doing relying on a 33-year old "friend." But things became more serious as British papers revealed what Werrity got up to while claiming to be the Defence Secretary's "special adviser."

The most serious allegations came yesterday in the Independent on Sunday: was in contact with the Mossad, about trying to overthrow the Ahmadinijad government. That is not British government policy.

But the Fox case lays bare the deep entanglement between the neo-cons of Washington and the remains of the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative Party. Fox is regarded as the leading figure of this group, Indeed, Lady T, who spends much her time in seclusion now as her old age is ravaged by dementia, attended Fox's 50th birthday party a couple of months ago.

Fox was head of a now-defunct group called "The Atlantic Bridge," dedicated to perpetuating the kind of hard-line Cold War-ring that they believe is necessary to successful foreign policy.

In their minds it was Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who won the Cold War because they were willing to fight the Soviet Union - with proxies - wherever and whenever. (Gorbachev's contribution to the end of Stalinism is ignored).

This philosophy morphed into neo-conservatism after the Cold War. See evil, e.g. Saddam Hussein. Take him out. Use your friends in the press to denigrate all those who disagree with you. You think the free-market should have some regulations? You're a socialist. You don't take the Likud view of the Middle East. You're an anti-Semite - or a self-hating Jew.

Democratic niceties are for wimps. Work in the shadows to get your policies together. Oliver North did nothing wrong. It's a tough old world out there. Get over yourself. And as for domestic politics, in a paper I wrote more than 12 years ago, I detailed how British conservative journalists sanitized the wildest allegations about President Clinton in the hard right's relentless assault on him from Whitewater onwards. (if you are curious about the paper it floats in cyberspace: google - "Our President, Their Scandal" and my name and you can download the pdf)

The connections between Washington Neo-Cons and London's Thatcherites run through think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and groups like the Atlantic Bridge. They are funded by wealthy men like David Koch, who is reported to have funded a lot of Tea Party activities, and others, many of whom have interests in the defense industry.

As I reported last week, Fox was engaged in a major reduction of his department's budget. But he was also buying weapons systems for future use.

A full report on Werrity's doings is due tomorrow but there are plenty of allegations circulating about wealthy donors funding his lifestyle of first class travel and high salary.

So far, this scandal is merely about poor judgment and embarrassment. It would be a shame if that is all it is remembered for.

This is another example of how a narrow, extremely wealthy group of people in the Anglo-American world consistently break the rules, circumvent the democratic social contract ... and mostly fail at what they do ... all in the name of some "greater knowledge" of how the world works. They believe that they are emulating their heroes - Reagan and Thatcher - by taking action whenever they want, however they want.

But really they are emulating three year olds ... who also take action whenever and however they want. Good parents step in and teach three-year old children limits. Bad parents, like those who funded Werrity so he could stay by Fox's side, indulge them and turn those children into disruptive, spoiled brats.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/europa/britains-defense-secretary-resigns-leaving-serious-questions-be-a