Is the diplomatic dustup between Britain and Russia mere theater, or are real consequences likely?
The new prime minister, Gordon Brown, is not wedded to Tony Blair's foreign policies, as was made clear when the Independent published a report on Blair's discussions with Rupert Murdoch during the run-up to the Iraq war. The day after Blair stepped down, the government granted a freedom of information request for details on this matter. As the Independent reported, the day after each huddle, the Murdoch press cut loose with vitriolic attacks against opponents of Blair's policies, such as French leader Jacques Chirac.
So we must consider that Brown is not terribly interested in being friendly with Murdoch, despite his stranglehold on much of the British media. Perhaps we'll see a parliamentary move to curtail press oligarchs such as Murdoch. If war propagandist Conrad Black can fall, so might Murdoch. My estimate of the Black matter was that, once his link-up with the neocons became well known, elements of the British establishment decided to take action.
BTW, Seth Lipsky, editor of the neocon-leaning New York Sun, has published an extensive apologia for his friend and ally Black in that paper. Plainly, Lipsky hopes that Black will be cleared on appeal and, like neocon Scooter Libby, also escape the clutches of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
So back to the British-Russian contretemps. Could relations get extremely bad and stay that way? I'd say yes.
After all, we're not talking about a routine murder, but about the assassination of a well-known person under the political protection of the British government. Worse, we're talking about a hit that showed a terrorist's mentality: no regard for human life as the radioactive material was tracked all over London. Yet the Russians refuse to allow a realistic investigation by the British or turn over a suspect, who has the protection of Putin's "KGB" apparatus.
Does anyone recall the Soviet KGB's proclivity for sponsoring terrorists?
So Russia is saying that Britain will no longer benefit from Russia's help in countering terrorism.
Recall that 9/11 occurred soon after a wave of Moscow apartment house bombings that the Kremlin claimed were the work of Chechnyan Islamic terrorists. But Litvinenko, the man who was murdered by radioactive material, is among those who said the bombings were the work of Putin's assassins. Like Putin and the murder suspect, Litvinenko was a KGB insider.
So who had a motive to pull off 9/11? Yes, of course, neocon insiders had a motive. But what of the Cheka (the generic name for Russian security forces)?
Of the 3,000 persons murdered on 9/11, scores were Britons working at a British bank. So clearly 9/11 is not merely an American affair. Perhaps Brown won't mind terribly if the British security authorities redo their investigation into 9/11, this time ignoring potential political problems, such as the desire of Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem to keep the focus entirely on al Qaeda and Islamic wildmen.