May 29, 2011


US President Barack Obama's state visit to Britain: he just called to say he loves us: Despite all the pomp, ceremony and glamour of President Obama’s state visit to Britain, it boiled down to one simple message - how Britain and America still need each other (Anne Applebaum, 29 May 2011, The Telegraph)

Though I hadn’t heard anything the president had said, it wasn’t difficult to guess. “We are one civilisation” was the gist of it: from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence to the Normandy Beaches to Nato – skipping a few minor episodes such as the American Revolution – America and Britain have long shared a common language, a common political culture and a common everything else. Here are some excerpts from the transcript: “Together, we have met great challenges… Our two nations know what it is to confront evil in the world… Enduring allies in the cause of a world that is more peaceful, prosperous, and just.”

It’s been said before. In fact, it’s been said before by just about every president of the United States from the middle of the 20th century onward: Ronald Reagan, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton – any one of them could have given precisely the same speech. Yet the message clearly resonated among British MPs, and even among British journalists. [...]

[I]n the end, “we are one civilisation” resonates because it is true – now more than ever. American and British business, American and British media, American and British consumers nowadays aren’t just close or similar, they are identical: they inhabit the same ecosystem, influencing and being influenced by one another in a million ways impossible to quantify. You can’t measure the fact that Tina Brown has edited both Tatler and The New Yorker, employing British and American writers interchangeably in both places. Or the fact that The King’s Speech filled more cinemas in America than in Britain. Or that American millionaires now buy English football teams, that quirky British newspaper stories can get millions of hits from American readers – and that any bestselling American novelist has a guaranteed book contract in Britain, too.

America’s stars are Britain’s stars and vice versa – in Hollywood and publishing as well as finance, media, public relations and sport. There have been British-born American Congressmen and American-born British MPs. America doesn’t do dog racing and Britain doesn’t do NASCAR, but, in almost every other sphere of business or pleasure, the two countries are joined at the hip. There is nothing mystical about it: our values are the same because our culture is the same. I speak here as one who holds both US and UK passports, and who feels precisely zero sense of divided loyalty.

Because of the language - because of the long-ago colonial relationship – the cultural, financial and intellectual relationship between our two countries is special, has always been special, and always will be special.

Pretty amusing the way she undercuts her own notion of the UR's particular eloquence.

Posted by at May 29, 2011 7:47 AM

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