Alex Massie

The Continued Absence of a Golden Age

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Commenting on the future of transatlantic relations, Anthony writes:

The plain fact of the matter is that there are structural issues at play that will ensure tensions remain. One of the great pieces of historical revisionism spurred by the Bush 43 tenure is the conviction that has emerged that under Clinton Euro-American relations were going well. They weren't. Most of the time it was poison. Even between Clinton and Blair things turned fairly sour...

We should hope for the best with the emergence of the Obama administration. And at the very least it'll give me an excuse to start having a go at the Continentals again. But managing expectations, so to speak, is undoubtedly the right way to go. There are plenty of issues that have the potential to cause ructions.

That's not to say, incidentally, that the problems are ALL structural. This is an argument generally employed by Bush 43 apologists to support the notion that it doesn't matter how undiplomatically the US government acts because the results will be the same and it should be resisted. But let's not get carried away.

This is entirely true. We forget too often how much the Balkan wars strained the transatlantic alliance and how close NATO came to breaking up over Kosovo. That wasn't the only issue, of course, but it was probably the biggest, most complicated one. You'll recall how Blair and Clinton were reduced to shouting matches over Kosovo and, previously, how Clinton and John Major had rowed over Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Now in the end most (or at least many) of these differences were resolved, but they were, in some ways, easier than many of those which face the west today.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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