No Major Harm Done

April 09, 1995

President Clinton and Britain's Prime Minister John Major have a special relationship.

Mr. Major sent Conservative Party ad men to help Republicans craft a smear campaign against candidate Clinton in 1992. Then Mr. Clinton undermined Mr. Major's conduct of relations with terrorists of the IRA so as to alienate Northern Ireland's majority .. from anything that emerged.

Such meddling in the other's affairs is unusual if not unparalleled ,,TC among friendly nations.

Now Mr. Major has visited the White House so that the two could declare their differences over and emphasize their agreements. Mr. Clinton even gave lip service to Mr. Major's views on relations with the IRA. The two statesmen should be taken at face value on this. Each is in enough trouble without the other adding to it.

The United States and Britain have a mutuality of interest in a shrinking world where they are pre-eminent among English-speaking democracies with worldwide interests and economic activities.

Mr. Major is more of a lame duck than Mr. Clinton. The British public knows who the alternative is, a fellow named Tony Blair of the Labor Party, which only days ago repudiated its historic commitment to state socialism. Americans give Mr. Clinton only a 43 percent rating but don't know who the alternative might be.

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Major must know that the relationship between their nations is more important than that between one another. They are not obliged to get along as famously as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt or Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan. the chemistry isn't there, it isn't there.

Yet it is disquieting, in view of the unique British-American cooperation that waged World War II, that Mr. Clinton does not plan to participate in Britain's 50th anniversary of that war's end in Europe. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Major should at least do nothing to prejudice the relationship between their successors. And it must be said in faint praise that in the Major visit to Washington, they didn't.

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