I posted yesterday's quotation from Angus Calder just as a reminder that the Special Relationship hasn't always been so special.

As you may have noticed, the essay on anti-Americanism in the current issue of The Economist (subscriber-only) devotes a lot of space to France but barely mentions the UK. I wonder if there was any particular reason?

In the weeks after 9/11 I was constantly struck by the disparity between the media accounts of the British public's reaction and the responses I encountered in my own daily life. Official Britain was in mourning, the flags were flying at half-mast. Yet my own experience was that while people were awed by the sheer spectacle of the terror attacks, they didn't show a great deal of sympathy for America itself. And I'm not talking about media types, who are, of course, always guaranteed to take a cynical view of things. In my corner of Middle England, an alarmingly large number of mddle-of-the-road people seemed to agree with the crass sentiments of Charlotte Raven's Guardian article, "A bully with a bloody nose is still a bully".

Why the dislike of America? Sometimes it would be what you might call the McDonald's factor, sometimes it was environmental issues, sometimes the Middle East, sometimes Irish-American support for the IRA. Most of the business people I spoke to - mid-level executives, mainly - would begin denouncing the corporate culture of the American firms they worked for or had had dealings with. I can barely recall a single person who unambiguously condemned Bin Laden. That remains the case today. I do my best now not to get into a discussion with these people, because I know where it will lead.

George Bush's critics often charge him with squandering the sympathy generated after 9/11. There may be some truth in that, as far as diplomatic niceties are concerned. But I'm not sure that transatlantic outpouring of support ever existed in the first place.

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/02/mrs-miniver-doesnt-live-here-any-more.html|||2/20/2005 03:33:00 pm|||||||||