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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 21, 2003

Blair against anti-Americanism

With friends like him we can handle our enemies,

Andrew Sullivan outdoes even himself in this essay in which he desribes the mindlessness of anti-Americanism and Blairs leadership in rejecting it.

The facts don't seem to matter. America is portrayed as an imperial force dedicated to what a Harvard professor recently described as "the crushing and total humiliation of the Palestinians." Yet it was an American president, Bill Clinton, who only two years ago brokered a deal that offered the Palestinians sovereignty over 98 percent of the West Bank and Gaza. (Arafat said no and his people are still living with the consequences.) America is described as waging a war against Muslims. Yet in almost every recent American intervention - in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan - it was for the sake of the security of Muslims that American soldiers risked their lives. America is described as relentlessly pro-Israel. But America gives almost as much foreign aid to Egypt and Jordan. America is described as imperialist. But in Afghanistan, recently liberated by the U.S., the Americans have done all they can to set up an indigenous government, capable of self-rule, and are pouring millions of dollars into reconstruction. America is described as unilateralist. Yet, after the worst terrorist attack in modern history, the U.S. patiently assembled a coalition to rid the world of al Qaeda's Afghan bases, and has waited eleven years while Saddam has violated almost every term of the 1991 truce. Even now, the U.S. has gone painstakingly through a U.N. route to achieve its goals. These are simply the facts. But in the new cult of anti-Americanism, facts don't seem to matter.

I'm happy to wager that history will find Tony Blair's resistance to this kind of cant as one of his signal achievements as prime minister. Blair is a liberal realist. He knows America isn't perfect; but that its power is essentially a positive force in the world. Without America, after all, Europe would still be under the shadow of an al Qaeda still lurking undeterred in its Afghan lair. Without America, Saddam might be sitting pretty in Saudi Arabia today with an arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Without America, there would be no united Europe, and there would be no new democracies in Eastern Europe ready to join. If that's the consequence of an American empire, then Europe is its chief beneficiary.

And that means an enormous increase in Britain's relative global power - now and for the future. If you don't believe this, contrast the results of Blair's diplomacy with Gerhard Schroder's. It's the difference between being at the center of world governance and utterly marginalized. In fact, Blair has managed to vault Britain back to the status of a genuine world power. When he huddles with George Bush at Camp David at the end of this month, he will be the most powerful British prime minister since Churchill at Yalta.
What a nice read.

Ted Belman tedbel@rogers.com