There has been remarkably little media commentary on the effect of the UK leaving the EU Common Foreign Policy, even though this is a major aim of Johnson, Gove and the Tory Brexiteers. The media appear not to have noticed the existence of the Common Foreign Policy. We saw perhaps the first public glimpse of the UK’s new foreign policy yesterday when Boris Johnson breached the EU Common Foreign Policy to join Donald Trump in denouncing the Iran nuclear treaty. As the UK has not actually left the EU yet, that was bad faith and an illegal act against an EU treaty obligation, but following the law is evidently of no concern whatsoever to Johnson.
There could not have been a more apt symbolism than the fact that on the day of the Supreme Court judgement that he had acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament, Boris Johnson’s major public engagement was a press conference sitting alongside Donald Trump. That is the future of the Tory version of Brexit. Other Lexit options are theoretically available, but this is what the UK’s current government intends you to get.
Of recent years EU foreign policy has been fairly characterised as neo-con, though it has rowed back somewhat from the high water mark of endorsement of the destruction of Libya. But freed from common positions on Iran, Russia, Syria and issues such as climate change, we are going to see a much more full-on neo-con approach from the UK – and one which, as now over Iran, is openly allied with the USA and against Europe. Some of the things Johnson said about the Iran nuclear deal on Monday in New York were jaw-dropping even by Johnson’s standards. “I think there’s one guy who can do a better deal and one guy who understands how to get a difficult partner like Iran over the line and that is the president of the United States,” is but one example.
My reading of Trump is that he is as contemptuous of brown-nosers as he is of opponents, but let that play out. What is plain is that, if Johnson survives as PM and Brexit goes through, Trump is going to have an unquestioning acolyte in Johnson. As I have previously reported, this is crucially going to extend to UK support for Trump’s Israel policy. It will very probably lead to UK support for Israeli annexations in the Jordan Valley – which EU Common Foreign Policy would not allow – and Johnson plans an announcement before Christmas on the moving of the UK Embassy to Jerusalem.
Johnson also blamed Iran for direct involvement in the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities at Khurais and Abqaiq. This is far from proven, and I am utterly confused by the narrative the western government and media complex has been pumping out on the event. We have been treated to an update of the Singapore Gun Myth. My generation and older were brought up to believe that Singapore had fallen in World War 2 because the guns were all fixed pointing out to sea and the attack came by land. In fact this was largely untrue and in any event not the main problem, which was appalling generalship and resulting rock-bottom morale. We are now nonsensically told that all of Saudi Arabia’s air defences only point South towards Yemen and therefore missiles from Iran crept in the side.
This is absolutely untrue. Saudi Arabia’s entire weapons capacity is massively focused on Iran, as are the manifold detection devices of the numerous US bases. Besides modern air defence systems are omnidirectional. The Patriot missile defence system is not the best in the world, though it is the most expensive; however you cannot just creep up behind it and shout “boo!” Not even the Saudis would pay billions of dollars for that.
Nor is it true that the Patriot system cannot detect cruise missiles. While it may have been designed with long range ballistic missiles in mind, it was only ever intended to intercept them in the last phase of their approach and cannot detect at more than 70km away. Saudi Arabia spent $1.57 billion dollars on PAC3 missiles: “A new Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) missile has increased effectiveness against tactical ballistic and cruise missiles through the use of advanced hit-to-kill technology. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, with Raytheon the systems integrator. The PAC-3 has a Ka-band millimetre wave seeker developed by Boeing.”
That drones evaded the defences seems possible. That is a fascinating demonstration of the new possibilities in assymetric warfare. As we witnessed in Gatwick, even entirely non-existent drones can be very effective. That cruise missiles were involved seems unlikely unless a very large number were launched – there has been no claim of any intercepts. The cruise missile claim is of course the grounds for the claim of Iranian involvement. That any substantial number of cruise missiles were launched from Iran into Saudi Arabia and none of them were picked up by the defences of the numerous warships in the Gulf, by the US military bases or by the Saudi air defences is so improbable as to be utter nonsense.
Any event which leads to a massive but very temporary spike in the oil price will have potential beneficiaries aside from where we are being told to look. On present public knowledge, however, a Houthi attack with drones seems the most probable explanation, as indeed the Houthis have claimed. Given the appalling bombardment from the air of Houthi civilians, I would regard such an attack as entirely justified. The addition of cruise missiles from Iran to the story seems to me wildly improbable but an entirely predictable propaganda ploy. It does however give us a glimpse of what the future of Trump/Johnson foreign policy could hold for the UK.
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