We’ve come a long way from the 2003 British lectures about American obtrusive ray-bans and Kevlar losing what British soft hats and smiles had won.
That quote about defeat from “a senior U.S. official” about the British withdrawal from southern Iraq is probably accurate, but it belongs to a larger, more disturbing context:
(1) the popular British anger at the U.S. (whether evidenced by the “poodle” slur or the latest Pew poll finding that a bare majority of British subjects approves of the U.S.);
(2) a growing acknowledgement of British weakness and appeasement, as exemplified not just by the escape from Iraq, but everything from the coddling of radical Islamists in London to the humiliation of the British navy by Iran.
So there is a logic there: the more the U.S. seeks to be a partner with Britain in harm’s way where it is ill-equipped, uncomfortable and thus bound to be humiliated, the more it resents America for doing so.
The unspoken truth is that just as there is no real military alliance called NATO, so too there is no Anglo-American “alliance”. Both of course can serve as valuable psychological props, and continue in name through tradition and ennui, but neither amounts to anything militarily or even much politically anymore. We should accept that “getting the Brits or Europeans on board” at best means a few platitudes at the U.N .
Continued Anglo-European distance from the U.S. transpires at exactly the time that the world is getting more dangerous for an unarmed Europe from rising Chinese and Russian nationalism, Iranian theocracy, and Islamic extremism-while U.S .public support for basing troops in the U.K. and Europe is at an all-time low.
To read contemporary journalism is to learn of Russian anger at Eastern Europe and EU morality lectures, Chinese frustration with EU tariffs, al Qaeda’s hatred of a soft, ‘decadent’ European lifestyle, and missile proximity to Tehran-and a growing American weariness with all of the above.
For Britain and Europe, it is a classic case of “be careful of what you wish for…”