Just last week, the British Government was “shocked, shocked”, they said, to discover that American planes had used British air bases in the process of flying prisoners to obscure places where they could be tortured without any interference from obsolete rituals like those required by the US Constitution or the Magna Carta. I saw them on BBC, the picture of offended innocence, declaring that they had not been provided by the Cheney administration with any proof that the unmarked planes landing and taking off from their bases were engaged in any such enterprises. Living here this Winter surrounded by statues and monuments attesting to the glories of the great British Empire, it was hard to remember that this was once a serious nation, not some sort of Uzbekistan. The ministers of state were happy to be taken for idiots, as they were required to do by their masters in Washington. At least an idiot can take refuge in the fact that he was born that way, but a toady is nothing but a toady. The Prime Minister here knows that as soon as he no longer imagines that he has an influence in the greatest agglomeration of coercive power the world has ever seen, he can no longer pretend to himself or his voters that he is somehow superior to inferior nations like France or Germany, to say nothing of Sweden or Denmark. Of course, we know what happens when someone knows better than the idiots in the White House, and says so. Gen Shinseki had his career terminated right away, and Attorney General Mukasey could not admit to knowing that waterboarding is torture. Meanwhile UK, a poor country, spends billions of dollars in maintaining a huge army and navy for a nation their size in order to pretend that they are still a world power, and the “Labour” Party bankrupts the working people with ruinous taxes so as not to trouble the plutocrats with the costs of playing at war and subjecting even poorer peoples to yield up their labor and their natural resources to the monopolistic power of the robber barons represented by Wall Street. Talk about the Emperor having no clothes. The Mother of Parliaments joins all the nations of EU in slavish obedience to a regime that no one could possibly accept as a superior.