Ian Stuart
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The Other Side of the Pond

Where do we go from here ?

It’s not the hair which worries me. It’s rather beautiful in a way - a candy floss creation of sweeping whirls and razor edges, re-created every day. It must take hours. It’s not the complexion either - that brilliant tangerine so loud it makes you want to reach for a pair of shades. No - I can cope with all that. And I’m not worried by the cupid’s bow mouth, or that curiously phallic thing he does with a pointed finger.

No. What really worries me is Trump’s attitude to NATO and “ America First”. You see I’m a Brit first and a European second. I live on the other side of the pond. Of course the European countries should pay in more for their own defense - and I don’t dispute that the US carries the burden in terms of money and hardware. But America is really paying (a great deal of) money to keep war off its own doorstep. Better to have the war in Europe , the thinking goes, than in America.

We don’t mind that. We have fought together before. But an America which pulls back from its friends into splendid isolationism- that gets us worried. It has echoes of the “America First” movement founded on the 4th September 1939 ( the day after the start of WW2, and dissolved on the 9th December 1941 ( two days after Pearl Harbour.) Its aim was simple - to keep America out of the war. Founded by R.Douglas Stuart, its supporters included Gerald Ford ( remember him ?) and even John Kennedy, who sent a contribution of $100 and a note saying “ What you are doing is vital.” To be fair, he changed his mind later.

It had a membership of 800,000, garnered while Hitler ( safe behind a Non- Aggression Pact with Stalin) took over the whole of Europe. In 1940 Great Britain was the only nation still fighting Hitler.

But the motives of “ America First” were not always even handed. Some Americans had a strong animus against the UK. Joe Kennedy (American ambassador ) reported cheerily to Roosevelt that England would collapse within a fortnight.It didn’t.

Prescottt Bush, George Bush’s grandfather, worked for companies involved with the very German companies who had fuelled Hitler’s rise to power.

So what changed ? What finally brought America into the war ?

Pearl Harbour, obviously.

The failure of the Russo-German Non-Aggression Pact

Churchill’s wooing of Roosevelt and the founding of the Anglo-American Alliance.

So you can see why we feel a bit edgy when He says that NATO is obsolete.

America is a wonderful country, vibrant, positive, welcoming.

If He surrounds it with walls - literal and metaphorical- we shall all be the worse off, whatever side of the pond we live on.


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The Other Side of the Pond
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