May 06, 2005,
State of the Cousins
What the British elections mean for the U.S.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece appears in the May 23, 2005, issue of National Review.
Americans are accustomed to thinking of Britain as their most reliable ally, always there in a crisis. Broadly speaking that has been true since 1941 and mutual. With the exception of a few wobbles like Suez and Edward Heath's refusal of landing rights to U.S. planes supplying arms to Israel in the Yom Kippur war, the Brits have shared a common approach with the U.S. on defense policy, intelligence cooperation, nuclear weapons, trade liberalization, and much else. Margaret Thatcher's backing for Reagan's Libyan raid and Tony Blair's commitment of British forces to the Iraq war strengthened this habitual cooperation. There was even government-to-government agreement for much of the time on the desirability of Britain's joining the European Union to frustrate any tendency the latter might show toward anti-Americanism. By and large this mix of policies worked well.
#AD#It is now threatened, however, by three developments: the rise of anti-Americanism in British politics, a growing anti-Americanism in continental Europe, and the EU's moves toward a common foreign policy. It is the first of these that is the main topic of this article.
Traditional anti-Americanism in Britain has been of two kinds: a left-wing political anti-Americanism rooted in anti-capitalism, and a right-wing hostility based on the decline of British power and the resentment at being displaced by the U.S. Neither was politically important; both were easily contained. But a much more dangerous, complicated, and surprising situation developed in the recent election campaign: Tony Blair's handling of the Iraq war midwifed the birth of a powerful anti-Americanism of the center-Left. . .
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