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US to UK: You Think We Care?

31 July 2007

4:15 PM

31 July 2007

4:15 PM

Remember that book, He’s Just Not That into You: The No-Excuses Guide to Understanding Guys? There are times when I think Britons should remember this message when they consider the nature of the so-called "Special Relationship" between Britain and the United States. Today is one of those occasions when one is reminded again – as if it was really necessary – that the relationship is a just a little bit more important and rather more special to Britain than it is to the United States.

Though the American newspapers covered Gordon Brown’s first visit to the United States as Prime Minister, they understandably didn’t attach the same importance to his meetings with George Bush as did the British press. (The Post, for instance, put its report on page 12, and neither it nor the NYT saw fit to editorialise on the meeting this morning). As I say, this is understandable and scarcely something to whinge about.


It was noticeable, mind you, that the internet seemed, if anything, even less interested in Brown’s visit or what it might entail for US-UK relations. True, National Review Online ran a brace of pieces by Englishmen and The Weekly Standard carried a slightly odd article by Irwin Stelzer. But that was about it. Nothing in the Nation, The American Prospect, Reason, The Washington Monthly or even The New Republic – nor, really, was there much, if any, comment on these magazines’ respective blogs. (NRO’s The Corner was equally silent. So too was TIME’s Swampland).

Well, that’s fine. No damage done and I certainly don’t mean to give the impression that one is whining. But it’s another reminder that American elite journalism’s indifference to British politics can be quite striking. It may be that the assumption is that Britain will always be there and, consequently, is a less pressing story than it would otherwise be. Or it may be something else entirely. Maybe, like Canada, Britain slips under the radar because it is seen as a member of the family one only needs to remember to send a Christmas card to each year whereas places such as France are weird and odd and different and thus need to be explained or confronted? Either way, it’s striking.

Perhaps readers can help explain this?


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