Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Boris Johnson is the New Prime Minister of the U.K.; Jeremy Hunt fortunately is Not!

Boris Johnson is the New Prime Minister of England; Jeremy Hunt Would Have Been Incompetent Every once in a while a country is at a crossroads. It has a critical leadership decision to make. England had two in the 20th Century. The first occurred in 1940 when England was losing World War II. Neville Chamberlain, the once popular Apostle of Appeasement, resigned as prime minister on May 10, 1940. The two potential successors were Winston Churchill and Lord Halifax. The Lord had been a backer of appeasement and was willing to seek a peace treaty with Hitler. Winston Churchill steeled the British people and led them through the dark months of 1940 and 1941 when all seemed lost. The second was in the 1970-1990’s. The British economy was in the tank. The coal miner strikes were crippling the economy. Much of the economy was government owned or controlled. The Torys on February 11, 1975 selected Margaret Thatcher as their leader, defeating Edward Heath. She became prime minister on May 4, 1979. The daughter of a grocer became the Iron Maiden. Her policy was called Thatcherism. She broke the coal miners and let people purchase their homes. She privatized much of the economy. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British off-shore territory of the United Kingdom, on April 2, 1982. She sent a fleet to recapture the Falklands and kick the Argentines out. Total victory was won in 10 weeks. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on April 2, 1990. Prime Minister Thatcher said to President George H. W. Bush: “Remember George, this is no time to go wobbly.” Iraq surrendered within 100 days. Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady. Theresa May – not so much! Boris Johnson is not universally popular with a mixed reputation as irascible, fiery, lothario, semi-Trump. He loves beautiful women and been divorced twice, just like President Trump. Boris Johnson was a journalist, as was Winston Churchill Churchill was a student of history and the classics. So is Johnson, who even published a book, “The Churchill Factor.” . Winston Churchill, the quintessential British stalwart, was half America, being the son of an American mother. Boris Johnson was born on June 19, 1964 to his British parents on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, making him both an U.S. and U.K. citizen. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016 for tax purposes. U.S. law requires all citizens, including those residing overseas, to pay U.S. taxes on overseas income. That’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Then we have Jeremy Hunt. Jeremy Hunt was simply unqualified to be prime minister. Qualified on paper? Yes, on paper A graduate reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with first honors from Magdalen College, Oxford. Member of Parliament since 2005. Minister of Culture, Health, and now Foreign Secretary. In his ministry, he led the successful British Olympics in 2012. He’s described as affable. Therein lies the problem; Jeremy Hunt is an affable soul – not a leader. The Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister May have gone wobbly with the seizure of the British tanker Stena Impero by the Iranians on July 19. Worse than that, they were totally unprepared even though they had plenty of forewarning. Gibraltar with the assistance of Royal Marines seized the Iranian tanker Grace I on July 4 for violating the sanctions. Iran vowed retaliation. H.M.S. Montrose, a British frigate, saved a British tanker, the British Heritage, from Iranian attack on July 11. The Montrose was 60 miles away when the Sterna Imperio was seized. Jeremy Hunt was opposed to Brexit, then supported it is now lukewarm on it, and wants a revote. Prime Minister May was anti-Brexit, then pro-Brexit, but then went wobbly trying to negotiate with the EU. His views of Iran’s seizure of a British tanker echos the weakness of Chamberlain 80 years ago. Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said the British Navy was too small to manage Britain’s interests around the globe. He also said: “It isn’t possible simply to escort each and every single vessel.” Surely the British Admiralty understands the concept of warships protecting convoys! Once upon a time the British could proudly sing “Rule Britannia. Britannia Rule the Waves.” No more – decades of budget cuts. Rumors are that the U.S. offered assistance to the U.K. in ships traversing the Gulf of Hormuz. Rumors are that the British declined the American assistance. Like Theresa May, his Prime Minister, he was dealt a poor hand with the Sterna Imperio, and played it poorly. Theodore Roosevelt a century ago said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Jeremy Hunt is speaking softly with a small stick. The Foreign Secretary’s response to the seizure of the Stena Impero was “Our priority continues to be to find a way to de-escalate the situation.” He was extremely disappointed with Iran’s action. He acted “We are not looking at military actions.” The British Empire was built on the British Navy and freedom of the seas. The U.K. cannot even protect its ships in the Gulf of Hormuz! No wonder the Mullahs are not AFRAID of the Western powers. They have fond memories of Presidents Carter and Obama. The Iranians were hardly shaking at the Foreign Secretary’s outrage: “That is totally and utterly unacceptable.” President Trump scrapped the Iran accords. The western Europe economic powers are fighting to save the accords to preserve their business with Iran. Foreign Secretary Hunt is a firm supporter of the Accords. He apparently would not let British sovereignty intrude and freedom of the seas interfere with the commerce. Yet, the Foreign Secretary called Boris Johnson a “coward” for ducking a debate. That’s stronger language than he used against the seizing of a British ship. Jeremy Hunt will not get a friendly greeting from Prime Minister Johnson. Jeremy Hunt would have been a prime example of the Peter Principle in Action. The U.K. is facing one of those critical moments in history with Brexit and Iran. Jeremy Hunt may be a good person, but he is not a decisive leader. We will see what the mercurial Boris Johnson will accomplish. He has an advantage – a backbone.

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