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by Alan Simpson

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UK: Europe or USA?

There is a looming crunch decision ahead for the United Kingdom, is it part of Europe, or a satellite of the USA.

Many politicians throughout Europe believe that the choice should be made sooner rather than later.

Britain has steadfastly supported the United States for many years, and many believe the benefits are very much in the favor of the US.

The issues that upset the Europeans the most are Echelon, and the invasion of Iraq. They feel the UK is an offshore spy base for America, enabling it to eavesdrop on Europe, and report everything back to Washington. There are many others of course, but in interviews these come out on top.

The issue of Echelon is very emotive, especially in the field of corporate espionage. There is a belief that the US spies on corporations, and key business individuals, then uses that for unfair competitive advantage in business dealings, and contract negotiations.

If Britain is a part of Europe how can a foreign country be allowed to spy on the community from within?

The issues have multiplied as Britain, like the USA is bogged down in Iraq. If the war drags on, which it will, and the cost escalates, which it will also, then why should Europe help Britain pay for the US invasion. Added to this is the many stupid statements, and comments against the French and Germans, from an amateur head of state, straight off the ranch.

There are ways to show displeasure without acting like a country bumpkin. Secretary of State Powell does it very well, and the message gets through.

We all know the United Nations is a corrupt group of ineffective gas bags, and the French look after themselves first and foremost. But there is no alternative to the UN, and the French are the French, always have been and always will be. But the antics of Congress in renaming French Fries, Freedom Fries is embarrassing to say the least.

So Bush and Blair have managed to insult the French, then the Germans, and downright exclude the Russians. They demand they all forgive Iraqi debt, tell the Europeans they will get no part of reconstruction contracts, and the benefits will flow to Haliburton, Cheney's company.


So the Community appears to have had enough of it's noisy wayward partner, who clearly can't embrace the spirit of a united   Europe.

The question for the United Kingdom is "If Europe kicks us out will America still be our friend?" for what use is Britain to the United States, when it does not offer access to the huge European Union. If the subsidiaries of US Corporations are now on the outside, then they may as well move over the Irish Sea, to more favorable trading grounds.

Fortunately things move very slowly in such matters and the November election could heal many wounds, or precipitate even more problems.

The underlying issue will not go away though, and the UK has either to be a part of a unified Europe, or an independent country allied to the USA.

Few believe it can be both.

As regards Menwith Hill, and the many other NSA, CIA and DoD units around the UK, that is another issue which will eventually come to boiling point, unless it can be proved they are essential tools in the fight against global terrorism.