Gordon Brown’s administration, despite its domestic (foremost economic) troubles, has a great foreign policy opportunity, claims Philip Stephens in the Financial Times:
The next year or so offers Britain the best chance in a generation to get its foreign policy right. Whoever wins the White House, the time has come for Britain to rebalance its European and transatlantic relationships. [...]
While Foreign Minister David Miliband insists on the "special relationship" between Britain and the US, he's also been making remarks hinting at a new recognition of Great Britain being part of Europe, says Stephens.
The implication is that a British government will speak from a European perspective in Washington as much as from a US one in Paris or Berlin. Behind this – at least I hope this is what Mr Miliband means – is an understanding that strong ties between London and Washington work in Britain’s interest only in so far as they also reflect wider transatlantic cohesion. [...] What has changed [though] is that a less subservient British relationship with Washington need no longer imply a weakening of broader transatlantic ties. The message for Britain from the Iraq war was that it could not have the best of both worlds – a privileged place in Washington and a leadership role in Europe. But France too learned a tough lesson: it cannot unite Europe against the US. [...] The governments of Europe’s three most powerful nations are now more or less at one. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy has abandoned his predecessors’ anti-Americanism. Angela Merkel has restored Germany’s Atlanticist tilt. [...] What this means is that Mr Brown can be at once pro-European and pro-American.