Continental Europe has a different tradition, more centralized and less democratic. When a Stuart tyrant was losing his head in 17th-century Britain, other monarchs were consolidating their power in the rest of Europe. Distrustful of nationalism, suspicious of the use of force after two world wars on its soil and increasingly secular, Continental Europeans naturally look askance at Bush's muscular war on terrorism, with its religious overtones and its populist, patriotic backing in the United States. The passage in Bush's speech that might have jarred Cornell European ears most was his simple insistence on, when necessary, "restraining aggression and evil by force."
The European Union, with its "democracy deficit" and its ambition to erode away the nation state, stems from this distinctive Continental worldview. One of the most important geopolitical questions in years ahead will be whether Britain is submerged into this project entirely, or maintains its flexibility and ability to preserve its special relationship with the United States. It is paramount that the United States work to keep Britain from being lost to the E.U., that London become a leader of the peripheral and post-communist states in forging a looser European community that doesn't cede sovereignty to a Franco-German superstate.
Then Anglo-America can continue its march. Britain and America have spread liberty to the world across the centuries, and, as Bush made clear in his Whitehall speech, there is still work to be done. If that work is successful, perhaps Bush and Blair will someday earn their own small place on the honor roll of Anglo-American history -- a questing, dynamic tradition that is not done yet.
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