July 20, 2010


A Staunch and Self-Confident Ally: We have a clear common agenda: succeeding in Afghanistan, securing economic growth and fighting protectionism. (David Cameron, 7/20/10, WSJ)

There are three sets of critics who seem to fret incessantly about the relationship: those who question the whole concept, those who say it is no longer "special," and those fixated on form rather than substance. Each of them is misguided.

The first group seems to view America as some sort of "evil empire," a country that is too powerful, that does nothing but sow discord in the world. They say Britain should have much less to do with America. I say they are just plain wrong.

The U.S. is a formidable force for good. Together we fought fascism, stood up to communism, and championed democracy. Today we are combating international terrorism, pressing for peace in the Middle East, working for an Iran without the bomb, and tackling climate change and global poverty.

Then there are those who claim the U.S.-U.K. relationship was special once but not any longer. They argue that the U.S. doesn't care about Britain because we don't bring enough to the table. This attitude overlooks our unique relations across the world—throughout the Gulf States and with India and Pakistan, not to mention the strong ties with China and our links through the Commonwealth with Africa and Australia. There's also the professionalism and bravery of our servicemen and women who have spent much of their careers serving alongside Americans in the world's combat zones. And the skill and close relationship of our intelligence agencies.

Finally, there are those who over-analyze the atmospherics around the relationship. They forensically compute the length of meetings; whether it's a brush-by or a full bilateral; the number of mentions in a president's speech; dissecting the location and grandeur of the final press conference—fretting even over whether you're standing up or sitting down together. This sort of Kremlinology might have had its place in interpreting our relations with Moscow during the Cold War. It is absurd to apply it to our oldest and staunchest ally.

The folks at The Box have started a new site, The Empire, with torrents from the colonies. One of the first things you notice if you watch a little bit of Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, British, American tv is how few differences there are amongst us. At the end of the day, we're too similar for the atmospherics between temporary leaders to matter to our alliances.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 20, 2010 6:05 AM
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