Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Review of British PM Gordon Brown’s Visit to America

The special relationship between the United States and Britain is a crucial issue in Global American Discourse. This April, leaders from overseas visited President George W. Bush, including the Pope Benedict ⅩⅥ of Vatican and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea. Among them, no one is as important as Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom. As President George W. Bush mentioned at the joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, the Anglo-American alliance has been the most successful partnership to advance freedom and democracy around the world (Sky News, 18 April).

As if symbolizing the special relationship, British Prime Minister discussed key issues of global security and US foreign policy, ranging from Iraq, Iran, Third World development, health, food shortage, economy, and Zimbabwe. Unlike his predecessor Tony Blair, Gordon Brown is regarded more inward looking. However, Brown has shown that he is a global leader in his own right.

Having stayed in the United States from April 16 to 19, Prime Minister Brown visited the White House and the United Nations to discuss critical global issues. Prior to this trip, he addressed new security strategy at the House of Commons on March 19 when the Cabinet Office released a new report, “The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom: Security in an Interdependent World”. The Prime Minister said that post-Cold War threats were far more unpredictable and diversified than Cold War adversaries. Prime Minister Brown mentioned new threats such as loosely affiliated network of terrorists and repressive regimes, climate changes, disease, and poverty. In order to confront these challenges, the Prime Minister emphasized importance of close partnership with the United States, NATO, the EU, the Commonwealth, and international organizations. Gordon Brown declared that the British government increase spending on tackling poverty, inequality, and poor governance to build stability in developing countries, which will eventually undermine terrorist and organized crime networks.

On 16th, Prime Minister Brown arrived at New York, and appeared in “Good Morning America” of ABC News. He advocated closer EU-US ties to deal with climate change, Africa, and globalization. Brown stressed continual British commitment to Iraq and hinted possibility of tougher sanctions against Iran.

Also, the Prime Minister gave a speech on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council. Democracy in this country is no less important than freedom in Tibet. I wonder why Zimbabwe has been so corrupt while South Africa is moving toward a successful democracy. According to Freedom House Index in 2007, South Africa scores 2 both in political civil liberty. On the other hand, Zimbabwe sores 7 and 6 respectively, one the worst nations in the world. What have made both post-Apartheid regimes completely different? Brown’s appeal to the UN and the US will be an important step to dethrone Robert Mugabe and democratize Zimbabwe.

On 17th, Prime Minister Brown talked with President George W. Bush, and met all presidential candidates: Senator John McCain of the Republican Party, and Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of the Democrat Party. Currently, Gordon Brown is the only foreign leader to see all presidential candidates in the election year. That is, Britain is better-prepared for the post Bush administration than any other nations.

President Bush and Prime Minister Brown discussed bilateral relations, Iraq, Iran, food and the economy, development and disease, and Darfur and Zimbabwe. While Brown promised close cooperation with the United States to defeat terrorists in Iraq, Bush declared to endorse British effort for democracy in Zimbabwe. (See the full text and the video of the joint press conference at the White House.) The rise of food price will be a critical agenda at the Lake Toya Summit this July. President Bush and Prime Minister Brown agreed to support activities of the World Food Program in Africa.

On 18th, Prime Minister Brown delivered a keynote foreign policy speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Senator Edward Kennedy hosted this event. As mentioned in the new strategy report, Prime Minister Brown emphasized staunch policy coordination between the two “great continents” of America and Europe, in order to deal with new security challenges in the post-Cold War era. Also, he stressed that emerging economies such as China and India have more access to key global summits like G8. In addition, Brown said that a “reformed and renewed” United Nations be the cornerstone of global governance. Most importantly, Gordon Brown asserted that US leadership would be indispensable in an increasingly interdependent world.

The Prime Minister has come back to London next day. Iraq and Zimbabwe were not the only issue at the meeting. It was a preparatory talk for the Lake Toya Summit this summer. Matters like food, disease, and Africa, will be crucial at the meeting of leading Western democracies. Britain plays an important role to call America's attention to these problems. There is much to learn to make the alliance with the United State more successful.

Also, see photos of the US-UK summit.