Enter Liz Truss at the helm. It is patently evident that Truss’s priorities are for madcap militarism and antagonizing Russia and China at every opportunity.
Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss took office in what was a momentous week for British politics. Only two days after she was officially appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, the frail monarch passed away at the age of 96.
The nationwide mourning for the deceased monarch, who was popularly perceived as a genial matriarchal figure, adds a sense of foreboding to Truss’s ascent to power.
In Britain’s so-called “constitutional monarchy” it is the crown that is the seat of state power, while the prime minister is an office holder. That has profound – if unspoken – implications for Britain’s purported democracy.
Truss takes over from Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader and prime minister. Johnson was eventually forced to resign due to endless scandals from sleaze and corruption.
Handing over the keys to 10 Downing Street, Johnson, the blowhard buffoon that he is, described himself as having served as a “booster rocket”.
Truss becomes the third-ever female prime minister of Britain, all of whom have been Conservatives (Tories). She is the fourth Tory premier to have held office only in the past four years (after Cameron, May and Johnson) which speaks of an unusual instability in the British establishment. The British establishment historically favors the rightwing, pro-capitalist, pro-military Conservatives as the ruling party. All the main parliamentary parties in Britain – Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat – are loyal servants to the establishment, but the Conservatives are the most reliable office holders, having the same wealthy class interests and imperialist view of the world.
Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch
Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, having been on the throne for 70 years (1952-2022). Her comparable esteemed predecessors, at least in the eyes of the British public, include Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and Victoria (1837-1901).
During her reign, Elizabeth officiated over 15 prime ministers, the first one being Winston Churchill, the Second World War leader who was re-elected in 1951. The death of the monarch (who is succeeded by her eldest son, the hapless and not very popular Charles) therefore brings an end-of-an-era feeling for many Britons. There is a sense that a certain national stability and surety as represented by the late monarch has now been lost. Britannia may have once “ruled the waves” in former glorious times but henceforth the Brits are facing choppy waters.
Penchant for Riding on Tanks
Enter Liz Truss at the helm. She is not a person that inspires public confidence or assurance with her leadership. But she is a militarist and a hawk on foreign relations which makes her suited to the interests of the British establishment. Her predecessor Boris Johnson was too much of a liability for causing public disquiet.
Born in 1975, Truss is an ardent acolyte of hardline former Conservative premier Margaret Thatcher. Like Thatcher, Truss has a penchant for being photographed riding atop military tanks and harboring illusions of “Great Britain” (like many other Tory politicians, it has to be said). She comes across as a petulant, callous person.
Only a few weeks ago during the Conservative party leadership battle, Truss said she would have no qualms whatsoever about using nuclear weapons “even if it meant global annihilation”. It takes an eerie psychopathic tendency to enunciate such a thing, never mind appearing to flaunt it as well.
It was thus chilling this week when British media reports noted, rather casually, that she was entrusted with Britain’s secret nuclear codes first thing after being made prime minister.
Her earliest action upon taking over at Downing Street was to phone U.S. President Joe Biden to renew Britain’s full support for the NATO-backed war in Ukraine against Russia. The so-called “special relationship” of Britain serving as a snarling bulldog for Uncle Sam is set to become even more obedient and pernicious under Truss.
Her second overseas phone call was reportedly to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky whom she also told Britain would be stepping up military support for his Nazi-infested regime in Kiev. The order of priority here from the two phone calls shows clearly that Truss is a reckless warmonger. Normally, new British premiers would make phone calls as a matter of courtesy to other prominent European allies. That Truss chose to prioritize the Kiev regime over Germany or France on the heels of her call to Biden is an ominous sign of her malevolent mentality and the agenda she is following.
Unhinged Calls for Decisive Defeat of Russia
Truss has already made unhinged, obnoxious statements when she was formerly the foreign minister in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. She has repeatedly called for decisively defeating Russia in the conflict with Ukraine. Her contemptuous personal slurs in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin show that she is a person of rabid Russophobia and very low [character] quality.
She has also made gratuitously hawkish comments about confronting China and “ending its influence” even though that will mean damaging economic relations with the world’s soon-to-be number one global power. Washington’s irrational provocations towards Beijing will only be indulged even more by London.
Sure enough, the new Tory leader has vowed to increase Britain’s already enormous military spending from 2 percent of GDP to 3 percent by 2030. That means an estimated extra spend of $150 billion on the military by Britain in less than eight years.
That obscene largesse will inevitably mean drastic cuts in public spending for health, education and other essential services. Britain’s current record levels of poverty are going to be further shattered as Truss drags Britain down the path of war.
Like other Western regimes, but even more so in Britain, Truss has no problems with funneling billions into weapons and war-making while ordinary citizens are suffering from deprivation. She has no problems with inflicting soaring inflation and economic misery on workers and their families as long as the military-industrial complex is raking in profits.
Biden, Scholz and Macron are likewise besotted with pandering to the war machine that drives Western capitalism. And they call this “defending democracy” from Russian “autocratism”!
Antagonizing Russia and China
It is patently evident that Truss’s priorities are for madcap militarism and antagonizing Russia and China at every opportunity. The social and economic interests of most Britons are willingly sacrificed by Truss in her criminal pursuit of a hostile policy towards Moscow and Beijing.
Moreover, what is also disconcerting about the new prime minister is her character flaws. She has no scruples and no remorse. Her sour demeanor says it all. She is a “shape-shifter” with scant principles. Previously, she was a member of Britain’s Liberal Democrat party. During that period, Truss is on record calling for the abolition of the monarchy. Then when her political career was more advantaged by joining the Conservatives, Truss jumped ship and became a staunch royalist.
She was also previously outspoken in her opposition to Britain leaving the European Union in the Brexit referendum in 2016. Only to backflip and become a hardline pro-Brexit supporter in the Johnson cabinet, a switch that resulted in her rapidly gaining high ministerial posts. On relations with the European Union, Truss has brazenly warned that her government will override legally binding Brexit commitments. That means relations with the rest of Europe could be in for an even testier time. A fragile peace settlement in Ireland is at risk of falling apart with the return of civil violence there because of Truss’s disregard for honoring Brexit commitments in keeping an open border on the island of Ireland.
In other words, the self-serving and conniving Truss is someone who can’t be trusted to have any principle or ethic. Her name translates appropriately in the Russian language as “coward”.
As if all of that is not bad enough, there is added concern over Truss’s dreadful lack of historical knowledge and appreciation of international relations. She has, for example, made ridiculous, pretentious comments about Ukraine having a long history of defiance and independence going back to the “Mongol and [sic] Tatar invasions”. Ukraine as a modern state only came into being as a constituent republic within the Soviet Union formed in 1917. It later gained independence in 1991 following the dissolution and break up of the USSR. Truss seems to think Ukraine existed along with Genghis Khan back in the 14th century.
When she was in her last job as foreign minister there was a cringing embarrassment when she met Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov in Moscow during the build-up to the current conflict in Ukraine.
Truss showed no awareness of Moscow’s long-held, legitimate security concerns over NATO’s expansionism and the unacceptable threat that that expansion poses to Russian national security. In her tetchy exchanges with Lavrov, she also revealed appalling ignorance of Russia’s geography and its border with Ukraine.
Following their frosty, closed-door meeting, Lavrov addressed the media separately and described his strained earlier discussions with Truss as akin to a dialogue between a deaf and mute person. She was rightly given the cold shoulder during her arrogant visit to Moscow.
Typically, it could be discerned, Truss was not on a mission of genuine diplomacy but rather one of self-aggrandizement and image-making. She dressed up in Russian furs for the cameras (aping Thatcher during the Cold War years) even though the weather was unseasonably warm. No doubt Truss had her beady eyes on soon taking over as Britain’s future prime minister.
Perilous Moment for International Relations
Lamentably, international relations have reached a moment of perilous tensions between on the one hand the United States and its NATO allies and on the other hand Russia and China. It is perplexing that more and more people around the world are fearful of a world war breaking out over the conflict in Ukraine or tensions over Taiwan. Any all-out war would escalate into a nuclear conflagration for the planet – which Liz Truss seems to be fine with.
What the world needs at this precarious juncture are diplomats and peacemakers who can resolve conflicts by accommodating genuine concerns. That requires intelligence, understanding and mutual respect. Truss has none of those qualities. She is a belligerent cipher.
Her taking up office comes at an inauspicious time. She will bring more instability and insecurity both in international relations and for the British people.
British Values: Leader With No Democratic Mandate
Bear in mind, too, that she becomes Britain’s next prime minister without any democratic mandate. She was voted in by Conservative party members to succeed Johnson. Johnson won the 2020 national election as then Conservative leader. Truss’s “election” thus comes from the internal balloting of 80,000 members – largely wealthy – of the Conservative party. That represents a fraction (far less than 1 percent) of the total British voting public.
Therefore, given the circumstances, a new national election should be convened as a matter of democratic principle. But not so in Britain where the unelected establishment and their ciphers rule, and elections are in reality only a side-show. That’s the real meaning of “British values”.
Increasingly, most Britons have pressing concerns over deteriorating conditions of social and economic hardship, or how to keep their jobs, feed their families and pay for heating their homes. Truss wants to inflame war with Russia and spend more on the military than on public services – all out of ignorant jingoism and career vanity. She is inflicting the costs of war on ordinary people and making them pay for her criminal machinations toward Russia and China. Households across Britain are going to freeze this winter owing to crippling energy bills. Truss and her ilk like the equally cold-blooded Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s top bureaucrat, are causing unprecedented misery for people, if they don’t actually incite a full-on world war.
In surveying what is going on in British politics, can anyone really persist in referring to it as a democracy? It never was, as the role of the monarchy demonstrates. (The same can be said for other Western states and their pseudo-democratic regimes.)
But, alas, now a perceived kindly old queen is dead, the clown’s mask has slid off, and what lies beneath is a truly nasty, ugly regime. In a strange sort of way, Liz Truss is an apt choice, not of course for the sake of world peace, but as an embodiment of the British establishment’s treacherous arrogance, imperialism and endemic fascism.