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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye Bye Blairie

Bush is running out of European buddies. Mere months after Berlusconi lost one of those too-close-to-call elections, Tony Blair has just announced that he too will step down soon—and none of his likely successors seem to be pushing a pro-American agenda too hard.

But don’t take this as big score for Europe against the US. First off, Blair announced his imminent retirement even before he won his record third term, so this is hardly shocking news. And let’s not forget that while several pro-Bush leaders have gone by the wayside (Aznar, Berlusconi), we’ve also seen the most anti-Bush leader of all—Germany’s Schroeder—replaced by the more conservative (and pro-American) Merkel. Even the stereotype of the anti-American Old Europe is fading away; as Bush plays nice with E3 powers over Iran, images of the asshole cowboy are becoming increasingly confined to San Francisco newspapers and university blogs.

Finally, individual members of the EU seem to prefer the more laissez faire economic style of America and Britain than the pseudo-socialist French model—and let’s not forget that the competitive nature of capitalism is as core an American value as democracy.

So as we bid farewell to Teflon Tony, we should recognize that he’s leaving behind a Europe that leans toward the Atlantic. Take that, Chirac.


Anonymous BiMetallicImperative said...

I should think that European alignment with the United States has more to do with the obvious economic benefits associated with cooperation with the USA than it does with some sort of personal magic worked by Tony Blair.

If we are looking at legacy, it should be noted that Blair expanded the power of the Prime Minister significantly - giving his office a sort of Presidential feel. While perhaps this was necessary to accomplish his goals, we all know the sorts of problems accompanied by increased governmental power.

Like our innocence, once we give up power to the government, we rarely get it back. Oh well, he was better than Thatcher, but certaily no Mark Darcy.

Anonymous P. Pirx said...

In the ultimate account, allies side with you (when they do) recognizing that it is their own skin, not just yours, that they're protecting. Problem is, some people take a long time recognizing realities. Blair is a bright guy, as for potential succesors, I'm yet to be impressed.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Competative nature of capitalism as American as democracy*

Given the post immediately beneath this one, about anti-competative subsidy given to American cotton farmers, I'm having trouble working out if this was

a) A telling comment on the lack of true democracy in America.

b) A genuine expression of belief that America embodies democracy.

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

To bimetallicimperative's point, the economic benefits associated with the American model are not all that "obvious" to Europeans. Just as Thatcher was Britain's take on Reagan, so too was Blair Britain's take on Clinton (economically speaking); in terms of economic experimentation, Britain serves as a much-needed testing lab for Europe to analyze... and Blair helped show some genuinely positive results.

Pirx is absolutely right about the self-interest realities of alliances, but hopefully Britain's century-long "special relationship" with America won't end with Blair. I doubt it will. A common language goes a long way.

As for my comment that "the competitive nature of capitalism is as core an American value as democracy," let me be quite clear: America is still a strong democracy (though with weaker checks and balances than usual), and has a strong competitive element to its character, and that's a very, very good thing. That is, as long as we play by the rules we set for everyone else (which we don't always do, but hey, that's Realpolitiks for you).

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Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.