Sorry for my infrequent appearances, but this year has been one of constant travel for me–on behalf of (a) the Hudson Institute (my day job) and its Center for European Studies, (b) the New Atlantic Initiative (now run by Daniel Oliver and me), and (c) selling my book abroad. Last week I was in Portugal, launching the Portuguese edition of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister and giving a talk on Atlanticism.
My Portuguese publisher, Zita Seabre, is a distinguished former Communist whose own autobiography shows her raising the clenched fist salute alongside Leonid Brezhnev. She was one of the revolutionaries in the 1970s who hoped to bring Portugal out of NATO and into a pro-Soviet “Euro-Communist” bloc following the revolution. She is relieved that she failed, but thinks it was a very close-run thing.
She gives a great deal of credit to the then U.S. Ambassador, Frank Carlucci, for keeping Portugal in the Western alliance. In retrospect Portugal was one of two victories (the other was the Nixon-Kissinger opening to China) against the general run of Western defeats in the 1970s.
Today, in addition to running the main conservative publishing house in Portugal, Zita is also a Member of Parliament for the leading center-right party (confusingly called the Social Democrats.) Portuguese conservatives tend to be very Atlanticist (as do the Portuguese in general) and thus pro-American. If we want to halt the galloping anti-Americanism that now distorts European politics, we should be looking at how Portugal was not lost–and talking to the Portuguese as well as to pro-Americans in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
Coming back through London, I took a taxi from Fulham to Notting Hill to a friend’s home for dinner. It cost 24 Pounds (approx. $48.) Shortly before we reached our destination, we found ourselves crawling behind a bus that bore the following advertisement: “London-Marrakech Return Air Fare: 22 Pounds.” Or $44. Characteristically the politicians here are worried about the cheap air fare rather than the expensive taxi fare.
Next stop–Muncie, Indiana. Not a joke. More follows.