Corridors of Power: Brown in Washington, Italian Mosques, and More

Corridors of Power: Brown in Washington, Italian Mosques, and More

'FULL AND FRANK' -- While President Bush insisted that the change of leadership in Britain had not altered U.S.-British relations, Gordon Brown's first official visit to Washington as prime minister somehow managed to place the partnership in a more distant, formal context. "Full and frank" -- Brown's description of his talks with Bush -- recalls the Cold War, when it was diplospeak for "we disagreed," and one step above "useful exchange of views." We are a long way from Tony Blair's warm, intense, and (at least in public) full endorsement of George Bush's policies.

European diplomats in Washington, briefed by their British colleagues, said there was agreement on the fundamentals, but less so on methodology, language, or style. For example, Brown pressed Bush for more serious, decisive action on the Arab-Israeli situation, more than implying that the White House had in the past failed to make good on its promises to Tony Blair that more effort would be made to advance the Middle East road map in return for full British support in Iraq. Brown also urged Bush to make more effort to improve America's disastrous image in the world.

Brown's visit "featured neither substantial splits nor needless glitz," the London Times reported. The New York Times pointed out that it was all in the language. When Brown declared in the joint White House press conference that "Afghanistan is the front line against terrorism," he was rejecting Bush's insistence that Iraq was "the central front in the war on terror." As for the war itself, Brown's insistence that terrorism is a crime puts is in a different perspective from Bush's ideological clash-of-civilizations thinking.

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