- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

A common political heritage has made the United States and Great Britain solid allies in the war against terrorism, according to author Balint Vazsonyi.

While many Europeans, particularly in France and Germany, have taken anti-American stances since the September 11 attacks, Mr. Vazsonyi noted, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has strongly supported the American position, including taking a tough line against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The English, at the end of the day, turn out to be English," Mr. Bazsonyi said at yesterday's Heritage Foundation seminar titled "Looking for Allies."

European unwillingness to support America against Saddam or earlier against the Taliban in Afghanistan has caused "the bewilderment of Americans everywhere about the behavior of our closest allies," he said.

That bewilderment, he said, is even greater because of the U.S. role in defeating Hitler's Nazi regime in World War II and defending Western Europe against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Americans feel that European nations "owe this country a great deal," he said.

"One ally has been proved and tested, and that is Great Britain," said Mr. Vazsonyi, director of the Center for the American Founding. His columns, syndicated by Scripps Howard, appear regularly in The Washington Times.

He traced the history of the Anglo-American alliance to a shared political philosophy, and contrasted that to the philosophies of continental Europe, especially Germany and France.

"I don't think when we speak of Europe, we mean Macedonia or Belarus," Mr. Vazsonyi said. "Europe's fate is contingent upon the relationship between France and Germany."

America has inherited the English political tradition, including such fundamental legal institutions as trial by jury and the Magna Carta's guarantee of equal justice before the law. "There's no parallel for that anywhere else," said Mr. Vazsonyi, author of the 1998 book "America's 30 Year War."

Citing the oaths taken by witnesses to "tell the truth, so help me God," Mr. Vazsonyi said, "What really drives our legal system is that the Ninth Commandment, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness,' became an integral part of the system."

The relationship between religion and politics is different under the Anglo-American system, he said, than under the prevailing Franco-Germanic system of continental Europe, where the rationalistic Enlightenment ideals of the French Revolution were influential.

"The English [philosophers] never picked a fight with religion, or thought that political philosophy should take the place of religion," Mr. Vazsonyi said. "In Europe, political philosophy became religion."

Mr. Vazsonyi, who came from Hungary to America as a refugee from communism in 1959, said the divide between the English-speaking countries and continental Europe is not absolute, and is one of philosophical ideals.

"It's not an ethnic question," he said. "We cannot write off Europe. It's only possible to be realistic about expectations."

However, he said, American adherents of Franco-Germanic philosophy "may be a greater danger to us than all the Saddam Husseins in the world."

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