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US-Britain ties are secure

While watching someone blow his nose rather offensively yesterday, I could not help noticing that many wise writers, respectable intellectuals, renowned scholars, and politicians were beginning to doubt the future of the special diplomatic relationship which exists between the United States and Great Britain. Many are viewing the end of Margaret Thatcher's 11-year stint as prime minister of Great Britain as the end of a period of closeness between the little old island and her overgrown child. This saddens me.

The United States' alliance with Britain during World War II and its aftermath seemed natural enough -- the two states are linked by culture and mutual security interests which made them ideal friends. Throughout the Cold War, Great Britain was a first line of defense against the Soviet threat (if not a tripwire for a nuclear nation willing to

go to war for its trusted Old World friend and partner).

Now, it seems, with the partial subsiding of the Soviet threat, many are doubting the need for the close political and economic ties between the two nations. On the contrary, now, with the world entering an era of instability unknown since 1914, we need the special relationship more than ever.

Before Eastern Europe fell apart last year, EuroChristshuh? had been working feverishly to secure the unification of the Western European nations of the European Community into a utopian free trade zone by 1992, eliminating tariffs and other nastiness among member nations. With newly liberated Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and a host of other nations now screaming Smith instead of mumbling Marx, EC plans are bound to become muddled, but will remain important on the European agenda. A year after the fall of Eastern Europe, plans for a European central bank, common currency, and free trade zone remain intact, despite endless argumentation between interested parties. Remaining close to Great Britain, the most stable nation in Europe as well as our closest historical ally, will be crucial to maintaining United States interests in the region.

In addition, if the EC's mission does succeed, entry by the United States into one nation's commerce would guarantee tariff-free commerce with the rest of the nations in the Common Market. In a future Europe full of rookie capitalists, international corporations, and a united Germany, a close association with Britain might be the open door the United States needs to gain a market share of the growing European consumer market. Such an important ally must be protected and supported.

Economic self-interest is not the only reason why the United States must foster its close ties with Britain. More often than not, the United States and Britain agree on major international affairs. In today's complex world, such a moral consensus is a strange and beautiful thing. Both the United States and Britain benefit in global politics if one's actions meet the support of the other. American and British solidarity during the Iraqi crisis lent credibility to both nations' responses and the US support for Britain's invasion of the disputed Falkland Islands in 1982 was an unquestionable boast.

France usually hedges on controversial foreign policy issues, and Germany fears rearing its ugly head in matters which might involve the use of military force. Most other EC nations may share cultural and political opinions with the United States, but lack the muscle to shape global affairs (that's partly why they're uniting in the first place). A good friend with some reliable armored divisions is hard to find.

Fortunately, the special relationship is not really in jeopardy. Most of Thatcher's policies will continue in her absence. The British are happy to maintain the relationship for reasons similar to ours, and since the large American military commitment to Europe lessens the need for large defense expenditures on their part. British-American relations have been a constant topic in political journals, and I believe that few Americans could visualize the British as enemies in the future conflict. Most people have forgotten about the little spats we had in 1776 and 1812. The special relationship is alive and well.


Matthew H. Hersch, a freshman, is an associate opinion editor of The Tech.

A good friend with some reliable armored divisions is hard to find.