Bush/Blair meeting

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Nov 18 16:16:26 MST 2003

Watching the Dutch TV news tonight, the articulate Dutch reporter in London
pointed out that really Mr Bush's state visit, which had been planned some
months earlier, could objectively not come at a more inconvenient time for
Blair, because he is trying to downplay the whole fracas in Iraq and improve
the election chances of New Labour, in the context of a trade war. Thus, his
assertion on 10 November that "I believe this is exactly the right time for
[Bush] to come" would seem to be more a diplomatic flourish, to put it
mildly. The costs, hassles and special arrangements required for the visit
are gigantic. The reporter did not elaborate about the benefits of the state
visit for Bush, but there is a sense in which the emperor is able in this
way to assert his humanity or germaneness, and reconcile the irreconcilable,
I guess, while behind the scenes a lot of Transatlantic bargaining is

My hunch is that the US Government Middle East policy is the biggest single
source of anti-Americanism in Europe, and the biggest threat to a smoothly
operating Transatlantic alliance. The anti-Americanism isn't really directed
against the American people, it is specifically directed against the US
Government and US corporations, and I suspect that by generalising about
"anti-Americanism" in general, the actual target of hostility among
Europeans is diffused, and made to appear arbitrary and irrational. And,
certainly, Blair is very concerned to explain that general anti-Americanism
is arbitrary and irrational - who in progressive, enlightened circles could
disagree with that ?


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