McKinley Scholar Discusses the Ties Binding the United States and Britain

April 13, 2010

Britain will remain "ambiguously pulled towards the Atlantic by the ties that bind," according to Michael C. White, political editor of the Manchester Guardian, a liberal leading newspaper in the United Kingdom.

 

Michael C. White

Michael C. White

Linked by heritage, culture and language, White said Britain and the United States will continue to overlap, and interesting president/prime minister relationships will prevail as they have in the past.

White, responsible for The Guardian's domestic political coverage in Britain and for reporting on England's political relations with the European Union and the United States, spoke at Mount Union College on Tuesday as part of the William McKinley Visiting Scholar Program that also brought White to Malone College and Walsh University this week.

"The relationship between Tony Blair and George Bush is very interesting," said White, who lived in the United States during Ronald Reagan's second term as a White House correspondent for the Washington Post. "We have a very conservative president [?] working with a left-of-center prime minister."

White said that while Blair has been accused of being Bush's "lackey" or "poodle," Blair is simply making decisions based on the balance between Britain's ties to the United States and its responsibilities to the European Union. Those ties, White explained, are rooted in Anglo-Saxon tradition, a common language and an intertwined past that explains many similarities between the two countries, including free trade and other economic policies.

Ties between the two countries have not always been strong, especially when Edward Heath, who White described as the "least pro-American" prime minister, was in power during the Vietnam War. It was the first war the United States was involved in that Britain didn't send soldiers to help fight.

The relationship between Britain and the United States after Sept. 11 was "fascinating" to White, who most recently has been responsible for The Guardian's domestic political coverage in Britain and for reporting on England's political relations with the European Union and the United States. White said Britons supported the United States on the resolution, but knew if it weren't going to pass, Blair "would have to choose between Europe and America, but as a liberal interventionist, he saw a lot to be done."

The William McKinley Visiting Scholar Program was made possible through an initial grant made jointly to the institutions of Malone College, Mount Union College and Walsh University by the First Educational and Charitable Trust, which was organized in 1967 with a grant from the Timken Foundation of Canton.

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