Donald Trump’s visit to the UK coincides with the anniversary of D-Day, and while the two events may seem worlds apart, George Galloway examines the very real threat Great Britain is facing exactly 75 years later.
June 6, 1944 marked D-Day, the launch of the Second Front intended to liberate the western part of Europe from their long years of Nazi occupation. It was a mammoth heroic and bitterly contested crossing of the English Channel landing on the beaches of Normandy and much Allied blood was paid for the bridgehead, British and Commonwealth and American.
Contrary to Hollywood myth-making of the 1213 warships involved in the landing, 892 were British or Canadian as against 200 American. Of the 4126 landing craft, 3261 were British. Two-thirds of the 12000 aircraft involved that day were British or Canadian as were two-thirds of the soldiers who landed on the beaches. Saving Private Ryan was fiction.
Fictional too is the myth that D-Day was launched in order to take pressure off the Eastern Front where for three long years Soviet Red Army soldiers and civilians had been dying in their millions. In fact, D-Day was finally launched – three years late and despite repeated false promises that it would be – precisely because of the rate of the Soviet advance on Berlin and the danger of the precipitous collapse of the beast of fascism therein before Western armies could even get their boots on European ground.
The failure to launch the Second Front in 1942 and in 1943 was motivated at first by the belief and in many quarters the hope that Nazism would vanquish the USSR and destroy it. This same hope had motivated many of the appeasers who had failed to confront Hitler from the mid-1930s praying that in return he would turn his monstrous war-machine eastwards instead.
After Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk and the bitter retreat of the fascist forces towards Germany that hope turned into a fear that the Red Army would win a complete victory almost on its own.
Such a mindset is still present as demonstrated by the minting of a coin commemorating this 75th Anniversary of the landings which completely omits the flag of the USSR – the most vital part of the great war-time alliance without whom the landings could never have been made and the war could not have been won!
But the annual commemorations are especially significant this year not just because it is the 75th such anniversary.
It is D-Day for another reason – Donald Day.
There was some resentment in the run-up to the Normandy landings about the build-up of American forces in England: “Overpaid, over-sexed, over here.”
Not many Americans could better exemplify all three characteristics than Donald J Trump although his ankle-problems would undoubtedly have ruled him out of the actual fighting in 1944.
The billionaire is over here this week and some resentment at his presence is guaranteed.
No matter that the vast majority of protestors wouldn’t have raised a placard against the crooner, his suave predecessor Barack Obama though he killed a lot more innocent people than Trump has – so far. His superior table-manners made him a cool and welcome guest amongst the glitterati.
No matter that Obama deported more people from the United States than Trump, that Bill Clinton imprisoned more black people in America than any other president before or since or that Mrs Clinton played a leading role in turning Libya into a place where black people are traded in slave-markets. It’s Trump who is the racist.
Vulgar and oafish periodically, the Donald largely didn’t play the fool but still aroused great passion amongst the crowds. His trousers didn’t fall down, he denied he’d insulted our American Princess (even though it’s on tape) and he didn’t, as before, walk in front of the Queen with his characteristic ignorance of protocol. But all notions of governmental protocol had already been thrown out the window with his brazen endorsement of Boris Johnson as his preferred candidate for the British premiership. He met Nigel Farage too in presumed defiance of government wishes. Hilariously he said he’d never met Boris’s rival for the job Michael Gove, which is not how Mr Gove remembered his three-hour interview for the Times with the president! Mind you, Gove’s then proprietor Rupert Murdoch had also been present. One always remembers the ventriloquist seldom the dummy on his knee.
And beware of Greeks bearing gifts as they say. Smarter Americans in his entourage brought with them in their satchels the basis of a free-trade deal – a “phenomenal deal” said President Trump, between post-Brexit Britain and the US making them overpaid oversexed over here and all over our public services especially the vastly rich-pickings of our National Health Services. Of course “the NHS is on the table” in those negotiations said the president as the prime ministers face hit the floor.
Trading the rich pickings of the NHS would be a bridge too far for the vast majority of British people of all political persuasions and open a new – a last – chapter in the special relationship. Most British people will defend our small island against that kind of invasion, on the beaches and on the landing grounds, in the hills and in the fields and from house to house. They would never surrender that which they won at the end of the Second World War. In fact, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is probably dusting down some war-time rhetoric as I speak…
By George Galloway