Tuesday, March 28, 2006

TONY BLAIR DOWN UNDER: ANTI-AMERICANISM

Crikey. Tony's been busy. After last week's speech in which he spoke of a battle of ideals, he's now come out and delivered another cracker to the Austalian Parliament about the danger of European anti-Americanism forcing the US into isolationism.
Tony Blair gave warning yesterday that the “madness” of anti-Americanism in Europe was increasing the risk that the United States could walk away from world affairs.

Addressing the Australian Parliament, the Prime Minister said that he did not always agree with the Americans and that sometimes they could be “difficult friends”. But he said that the danger today was not that the Americans were too much involved in international affairs. The danger was that they might decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage.

“We need them involved. We want them engaged,” Mr Blair said. “The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them.”

He added: “The strain of anti-American feeling in parts of European and world politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in.”
Sure, some critics will simply see this as little more than cosying up to George Bush and the vast neocon conspiracy, but it's more than that. If vast swathes of the Left were not besotted with petty anti-Americanism, we'd be spared embarassing moments like the following from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
The past months have been challenging for us in the anti-war camp. I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I wanted more chaos, more shocks, more disorder to teach our side a lesson. On Monday I found myself again hoping that this handover proves a failure because it has been orchestrated by the Americans.
At least she had the honesty to admit anti-Americanism was fuelling her repellent thoughts, adding:
The decent people of Iraq need optimism now, not my distasteful ill-wishes for the only hope they have for a future.
There will always be some for whom their hatred of America trumps their love of democracy and hatred of totalitarianism. Some on the Left may never forgive the US for bringing about the end of the Soviet Union by winning the Cold War. Funny how those who've benefited most from this American victory tend to be the most grateful, eh?

For example, this study, which showed that of Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, only in Britain and Poland did the majority of those polled speak favourably of America. This is not simply a reaction to the reelection of George W. Bush, although that is clearly a factor. The common prejudices overheard on the bus, in bars, at work and seen in our media of Americans as fat, poorly educated, uncultured, brash, geographically-challenged, lazy workaholics cannot be attributed to the rise of one man and his twisted tongue. These prejudices have been around for a long time and (sadly) still seem to be considered acceptable in polite society.

The old adage about "If I were to say that about X / Y or Z..." comes to mind. Frequently people I know make gross generalisations about Americans they would never dream of ascribing to another nationality, for fear of appearing racist.

With this speech, Tony Blair has gone some way toward reclaiming a love of America for the Left. No Leftist ought to be ashamed of the fundamental rights afforded to Americans through their Constitution, nor of her victory over totalitarian communism. And no sensible Leftist ought to consider aligning themselves with totalitarian fascists "to teach our side a lesson".

Let's face it, an internationalist Left without the support of America may as well pack up and go home. As the self-styled leader of the free world we need the US to accept the responisibilities that go with the role, not slip off into an isolationist coma. Those who would rather bash America over her past behaviour may like to consider exactly what would have been done about Kosovo and Afghanistan had the US not taken the lead and we'd had to rely instead on those well-known guardians of world peace: Russia and China. Not an awful lot I'll wager.

(Belated hat-tip to Stewie in the comments. Memo to self: Australians are hours ahead - always check Haloscan...)

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