Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, July 07, 2005


New York was attacked on September 11, 2001 because it was, as boastful placards in the city put it, the "Millennium Capital of the World," the symbolic center of diplomacy, finance, and industry.

It would be too much, no doubt, to say that London was attacked because it inherited New York's leadership role. Still, if there is any single location where a terrorist attack is a symbolic strike against all of modern civilization today, London may be that place. The schism between America and Continental Europe is wide enough now that Frenchmen wouldn't feel "we are all Americans now," if they ever did. Likewise, Americans would not feel that an attack on Paris or Berlin was an attack on them. And Spain, let alone Bali or Istanbul, is too remote to have the same impact.

But London. Churchill long ago envisioned England as the intersection of three worlds: the British Empire, the English-speaking world, and Europe. Now, with Britain being a leader in international development, suddenly influential in Europe in the wake of the French No, and with the highest prestige in America that it has had for a couple of generations, Britain has come strangely close to fulfilling Churchill's vision. It enjoys (or suffers from, as the case may be) an importance in the world out of proportion to its size.

The terrorist attacks serve to underline that. They are a bitter, back-handed tribute to Blair's leadership.


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