Petronella Wyatt

Wise move

The ongoing escapades of London's answer to Ally McBeal

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I had my half-brother Pericles staying here in London for the first time in four years. Pericles, who is my father's son by his third wife, Moorea, went to live in America when I was about 14. It was a very brave move at the time, as he was only 18 and had no qualifications, but it has turned out to be a remarkably wise one.

He and his precariously pretty wife now run an extraordinarily successful RV park/ waterworld in Arizona. In the winter it takes 500 motor homes of up to 40-ft long and in the summer, when the weather is too hot for campers, it becomes a park with whirly water slides. During the winter my brother goes to work at four in the morning, gives cooking demonstrations, arranges line dances and other entertainments, before going to bed around nine.

He now has an American accent, which always comes as a slight shock, given that our father's was straight plum. I asked him if he would ever move back to England and he said no. Most of his friends were in America and he found it very congenial. It seemed that most people he had encountered in his 20 years there had been friendly, accommodating and helpful, much more so than in Britain. Moreover, the life is healthy – he rides with Olympic cyclists and is as wiry as a whippet – and the cost of living relatively cheap.

America is still a benign country of opportunities, despite all the sniping by the press. Admittedly, this sniping is against the ruling elite not the people at large, as hostile critics are at pains to point out, but it cleverly adds to the general anti-Americanism that they are trying to fan. Now the war, once it had defied the Left by being a success, is one of naked self-interest. I am not in the heads of George Bush, oil-bigwigs or anyone else so I have no idea how much of this war is determined by self-interest. All I can say is that I can think of no war that wasn't determined by a degree of self-interest.

Anti-war pundits have been saying it 'would have been all right' if America had been attacked by Iraq, but I do not remember the reason for British entry into the second world war being an attack from Germany. Nor did we go to war to liberate the Jews from a murderous tyrant. We went to war because Germany refused to remove its troops from Poland. There were treaty obligations and all that but it was not in our interests to have a German-dominated Europe. Just as it is not in America's interest to have anti-Western madmen dominating the Middle East. But how sanctimonious our media sounds now.

Of course Saddam Hussein isn't even on the same ladder as Hitler or Stalin (whom the Left still has not apologised for sanctifying), but his regime was pretty horrible. So is Mugabe's in Zimbabwe, the tired argument goes, but the Americans aren't interested in Africa. I don't blame them much for that. Why should they be? If anything it is we who should be actively concerned as the British were responsible for Zimbabwe in the first place. But, as the pundits point out, we can't go wiping every nasty man off the planet.

That, alas, is the only nail they have hit on the head, and Mugabe poses no threat to world peace. The question still to be answered, as I posed rather flippantly in my column last week, is did Saddam have weapons of mass destruction? I sincerely hope, for the sake of the Americans, that he did. If none can be found a new and bigger wave of anti-US feeling will be unleashed. I admit to feeling a splash of it over the weekend when I read that American troops had allowed the looting of hospitals and Baghdad's national museum, but had cordoned off the oil ministry. Even by the standards of our much-lamented Iraqi information minister this was not great PR.

The trouble is, though, that unlike the British, who see themselves as being worse than the world sees them, the Americans cannot comprehend why anyone would dislike them. This is not arrogance but stems from an unshakable belief in their country and its ethical code. For the most part it is justified. Where would people like my brother be without America and her generosity? This is why the US, sometimes, should take more care about what the international community thinks of it. If I were the Pentagon or the White House I would start swamping every hospital in Iraq with equipment and aid right now. Principally, this is in order that some bandages may be stuffed in the mouths of the Left whose moral relativity puts Saddam above President Bush.