The vital U.S. relationship with Britain is much more fragile than many Americans think. Thanks to the Bush administration policy on a range of issues, hostility to the United States among the British public is higher than it has been since the Vietnam War. Only the personal commitment and moral courage of Tony Blair made British participation in the Iraq War possible—and the result has been seriously to endanger his leadership at home.
Above all, Americans must understand that the strategy of this British government, and of the British foreign policy establishment in general, is to avoid having to make a definitive choice between Britain's alliance with the United States and its place in the European Union. If Washington forces Britain to choose between the two, it may not choose the United States, and a collapse of the relationship with Britain would leave the United States without a single major Western ally. The consequences for U.S. power and influence in the world would be nothing short of disastrous.
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About the Author
Anatol Lieven is senior associate in the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment. He is the coeditor of Ambivalent Neighbors: The EU, NATO and the Price of Membership and the author of several books including Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power.