Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Special No More

Back during World War II, British Prime Minister and adopted son of the United States Winston Churchill (his mother was American) spoke of a "special relationship" that existed between Great Britain and the United States. Linked by language, history, traditions, legal and constitutional frameworks (albeit unwritten in Britain), Churchill was the first British statesman to note that an allegiance with the US surpassed, on some fundamental level, the traditional realpolitik idea that countries do not have friends, but only interests.

The past seven years have done immeasurable harm to that "special relationship". I was going to write "irreparable", but that would be wrong. Some measure, however, of the extent of that harm comes in the form of an editorial in Britain's newspaper The Independent, marking President Bush's "farewell tour" of Europe. Entitled "The tragic legacy of a disastrous president", the article actually is far more critical than even that particular headline might indicate.
[P]erhaps Mr Bush's most significant legacy, as far as Britain is concerned, will be the destruction of the instinctive trust of America and its leaders that once prevailed here. It is no exaggeration to say that Mr Bush has done more damage to relations between our two nations than any president in living memory. This rupture is not an accident of circumstance; there are no impersonal forces of history to blame. This sorry state of affairs is the consequence of the actions of a single leader and his small coterie of advisers.

Along with shredding the Constitution, making international terrorism an even more grave threat than it was before he entered office, and destroying both conservative ideology and the Republican Party, we can add diplomatic destruction to Bush's accomplishments. Heckuva job, Georgie.

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