U.S.-British alliance likely to stay secure
Tony Blair made a final White House visit before stepping down as British leader.
UP to their necks in the Iraq quagmire, President Bush and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair bid each other a fond farewell last week in the Rose Garden of the White House. Blair's 10-year-old tenure is ending with derision from his constituents as Bush's "poodle," while Americans scratch their heads.
Blair's chemistry with Bill Clinton, who was president when Blair took up residency at 10 Downing St., was obvious. Both were highly intelligent, smooth-talking, center-left and charismatic. So why did Blair quickly become a soul mate of Clinton's plodding, inarticulate and conservative successor?
Their bond was forged by 9/11 and remained secure by their similar views on foreign policy, especially in Iraq. Blair's strong calls for perseverance in Iraq were always an eloquent version of Bush's stay-the-course drone.
Iraq was Blair's downfall. Polls show that 70 percent of Britons believe Iraq will tarnish his legacy. An informal Christian Science Monitor survey asking Britons for their views of the best and worst of Blair elicited a broad range of positives, "but one four-letter word kept cropping up."
In his resignation speech the week before last, Blair said, "I decided we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong." (Bush insists that history will judge him to be right.)
Without doubt, the strong alliance of America and Britain dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill played a large role in the Bush-Blair relationship. Perhaps reluctantly, Gordon Brown, the British finance minister and assumed successor to Blair, is likely to adhere to that legacy.
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