Ban on U.S. Military in London Lifted
The U.S. military has lifted a ban on its members going into London that was imposed on Friday.
The US has lifted a ban on UK-based military personnel and their families travelling to London in the aftermath of ThursdayÃ¢€™s bomb attacks. The move followed criticism from police, politicians and tourism officials in the capital.
Thousands of US military personnel had been ordered to stay away from London and not to go anywhere inside the M25 until further notice. Family members were also encouraged to avoid the capital because of safety fears. Military commanders issued the directive to 10,000 US air force personnel on Friday, the day after the four explosions that killed at least 52 people.
The order appeared to contrast with efforts by British leaders to encourage Londoners to return to normal working life. Ken Livingstone, LondonÃ¢€™s mayor, turned his normal 35-minute underground journey to City Hall on Monday into a symbol of the capitalÃ¢€™s collective defiance. The US directive to its military personnel also sat uncomfortably alongside a statement by US president George W. Bush that the US stands together with Britain in the face of terrorism.
UK defence secretary John Reid said earlier on Tuesday he had been assured that the US embassy was reviewing the directive. Ã¢€œIt was given out as a temporary directive in the immediate aftermath of the bombs,Ã¢€ Mr Reid said. Ã¢€œMany British companies were saying the same thing temporarily: donÃ¢€™t put pressure on emergency services, donÃ¢€™t go into the centre of London. Ã¢€¦ This was a directive that was passed within the first 24 hours of the bombs going off.Ã¢€
The criticism the received was quite brutal as this Guardian story makes clear.
“I would have hoped our American allies could show a little more courage,” said Andrew Robathan, a Conservative member of Parliament. The Daily Mail newspaper said in an editorial: “We trust the 4 million Americans who come to London each year are made of sterner stuff than the U.S. Air Force.”
Reid told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that the original decision was “perfectly sensible.” Reid said the first call he received following confirmation of the attack was from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offering “all possible assistance including people coming to London, and some people have done that.” “So it isn’t the case that Americans are somehow running away from this,” Reid said.
The order strikes me as logical in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, for a variety of reasons. I’m glad that it has been lifted, though.