- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Tony Blair is the happy warrior of the war on terror, the surprise of the season. It's not easy being the tough guy trying to make nice with the old women of Europe.
The British prime minister has to be sorely tempted sometimes to wish us well, goodbye and good luck, and throw in with convenient fair-weather friends. He's bucking a considerable tide of sentiment in his own party, perhaps the majority sentiment, to stand with George W. Bush, and he's doing it with ardor, zeal and satisfaction. And not only with words. When the moment arrives, he intends to dispatch British soldiers to fight in the desert with the Americans who are in Europe's eyes the villains of the piece.
Mr. Blair does not enjoy the reassurance of the scorn for Europe that nestles in the not-so-secret places of the hearts of Americans (and maybe even deep in the heart of a certain Texan). Mr. Blair, like his Labor Party colleagues, regards Europe as the unnatural but necessary home of what was once the race of kings, and sometime next year he intends to wage and win a referendum to abandon the pound sterling, the last vestige of the Britain that once bestrode the globe, for the nice little euro.
Then the kingdom's transformation from Great Britain to Little England will be complete.But that will be then. This is now. The prime minister obviously relishes standing with America, the powerful partner in the world's longest-lasting and most successful alliance. The most natural, too. Bound together by history, by language, law and literature and above all by the traditions of kith, kin and a common faith, Britain and America find it inconceivable that they would not stand together when civilizations clash and nothing less than their common posterity rides on the outcome. So it's once more, with feeling.
Britain's would-be (and probably eventual) partners on the Continent enjoy no such tie to America, despite similar bonds of blood. This is what frosts the bald heads of Europe. Neither do they have the history of standing up to tyranny, damn the costs. Appeasement comes naturally to the men in Paris and Berlin and Rome because none of these worthies would have the manly orbs to stand up to tyrants even if they had the armies to do it.
Anti-Americanism," which seems endemic to so much of contemporary Europe, is a familiar sentiment in the pubs and lanes and shops of Old Blighty, but it usually doesn't run deep and it shouldn't be taken any more seriously than the scorn for Yankees you might hear late of a night, after the second bottle of cabernet, in Vidalia or Tuscaloosa or Biloxi or Texarkana.
The affinity of the prime minister with his polished ease with the language for George W., the brush-chunking rancher who has to wrestle the words into his rhetoric, seems more unlikely than it really is. Many of the president-prime minister fusions have been combinations of odd couples. Maggie Thatcher, a grocer's daughter, got on famously with Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush, the Hollywood heartthrob and the patrician WASP, and FDR and Winston Churchill personified the Anglo-American alliance. But the pairing has been more often odd than not, and often the Tories give presidents more grief than Labor prime ministers. Harold Wilson stood as close as he dared to Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War, and before him there was Ernest Bevin, the stereotypical lefty in American eyes, who helped Harry Truman set up NATO. Anthony Eden, the ultimate Tory, presided over the Suez crisis with no help or sympathy from Dwight Eisenhower, and Edward Heath, a Tory, once described "the special relationship" as just "an excuse for the United Kingdom to kow-tow to the United States," and pushed Britain toward Europe because "Britain's rulers cannot ride two horses at the same time."
Tony Blair as staunch Bush partner is a surprise because he seemed once under the spell of Bill Clinton and the boy president's "third way." Perhaps not quite realizing what he was saying, he once described himself and the country bumpkin from Hot Springs as "out of the same womb, politically." He rooted hard for Al Gore, not only through the long presidential campaign but the endless Florida aftermath as well. But events quickly pushed the prime minister and the new president together and soon [-] as he made pains to let everyone in London know [-] he was getting on better with George W. than he ever did with Bill Clinton.
In the end, Mr. Blair may fill a role similar to that of Mrs. Thatcher in Gulf War I, when she famously warned No. 41 not to "go wobbly."
Maybe No. 43 won't need it, but the British usually aren't as susceptible to bathos and schmaltz as we are (the goo-goo over the death of Princess Di notwithstanding). The stiff upper lip needs no "closure," and "healing" is best done discreetly, in private. When pressure grows for compromise with what British columnist Christopher Hitchens calls "the stone-faced propagandists for Bronze Age morality," we may need someone to remind us that when confronting Bronze Age morality the only strategy is to kill without pity.


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