November 15, 2007

We're Popular!

Has anti-Americanism gone out of vogue on the Continent? With eastern Europe showing unabashed enthusiasm for free-market economics and Nicolas Sarkozy warmly embracing the US, it appears that we have become the belle of the European ball. Gordon Brown, who at first wanted to establish credibility as an anti-Blair, now wants to play catch-up:

Nicolas Sarkozy's star turn in America last week didn't escape notice in London, which used to pride itself on the "special relationship."

Of late, the friendship has felt less than special. On becoming Prime Minister this summer, Gordon Brown threw a few bones to the Harold Pinter gallery. He brought the America-skeptic Mark Malloch Brown from the U.N. to serve in his cabinet. In his first meeting with President Bush, the PM was all straight talk, making a point to strike a contrast with the chumminess on display whenever Tony Blair dropped by Camp David. Little changed on policy, but the symbolism and body language were cool. And, it turns out, out of step with the new Continental zeitgeist.

In France "Sarkozy l'Américain" went from a derisive nickname to a compliment in the six months since his election. Speaking openly of his admiration for the U.S., the new President works closely with Washington on Iran, Kosovo and other issues. He vacationed in New Hampshire this summer. His moving address to a joint session of Congress last week sealed the rapprochement. Then this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel paid the first visit by a German Chancellor to the Bush ranch in Crawford to talk about Iran's nuclear program.

So Monday night, in his first major speech on foreign policy since moving into 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown sought to out-Sarkozy the Frenchman. "It is no secret that I am a lifelong admirer of America," he said in London. "I have no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe. I believe that our ties with America -- founded on values we share -- constitute our most important bilateral relationship." In noting the recent pro-U.S. tilt across the Channel, Mr. Brown said, "It is good for Britain, for Europe and for the wider world that today France and Germany and the European Union are building strong relationships with America."

I blame George Bush, that dastardly unilateralist! Where's Don Rumsfeld when we need him?


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