Opinion

The British: Our best friends in the free world

“Who the hell do you Americans think you are?” my uncle, red-faced, raged at me from across the dinner table. Circumstance due to divorce had prevented me from knowing my uncle, the former Don of Oxford University’s Nuffield College, until I started attending the University of Aberdeen two years prior to this heated conversation. “What gives you Americans the right . . .” his remarks were piercing, and too much to bear. They were so out of character for the studied man, steeped in the British tradition, whom I had come to respect. I felt like an outsider in a place I recently adopted as my home away from home.
The topic of conversation that cold summer’s evening in Devonshire had drifted from American accounting practices and the stunning failure of Arthur Anderson, to a possible war with Iraq. What my uncle expressed was a valid, growing view that the U.S. acts too “unilaterally.”
When I returned home to the States later last summer, he mailed me a conciliatory note with a clipping from Britain’s conservative paper, The Daily Telegraph. The article moderately spelled out the differences between European and American views. Europe wishes to see multilateral solutions when conducting foreign policy, as opposed to what Europeans view as the dangerous “shoot first, ask questions later” American way of dealing with the world’s troubles. Being a particularly pro-American newspaper, the article then focused on how Americans dismiss most European actions as “weak kneed” and, using the classic dirty word from World War II, downright “appeasement.” The British have a great way of separating themselves from the continent when they need to.
As the summer wore on, and I readjusted to the American way of life, I read more articles in notable political journals such as The Economist on the “growing divide” between the two continents and Britain’s role in the whole Iraq fiasco. Britain and her prime minister, Tony Blair, are taking a huge gamble on committing to a war in Iraq. It is a motion that is hugely unpopular amongst backbenchers in the P.M.’s own Labour Party and even the Thatcherite Conservative Party’s position is, at best, only thinly supportive. To quote one senior M.P.’s comments to me in a rather candid conversation, “Iraq has nothing to do with us.”
Alas, I am forced to fall back on an expression I heard in my first year, Introduction to International Relations class: “Great Britain does not have permanent allies, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests”. A botched war with Iraq would give the UK its first taste of the American “Vietnam War syndrome” spelling disaster to our relationship with those who are our best friends in this world.

Gunnar Heinrich is a visiting 3rd year Politics & International Relations major from the University of Aberdeen, King’s College in Scotland.

January 31, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

UM chatter: • One lesson learned in recent years, as one UM official put it: Don’t get your hopes up ...

The unopened Christmas gift that University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz recently spoke ...

Joseph Yearby declared early for the NFL draft. Gus Edwards transferred to Rutgers. Trayone Gray is ...

The University of Miami is in conversations about playing the University of Alabama to kick off the ...

He’s all grown up. Yet University of Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is only 20. Two reconstructiv ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

Former University of Miami Dean of Students William W. ‘Bill’ Sandler, Jr. passed away on August 6 a ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.