Monday, July 11, 2005

Learning from London

South Kensington, London - 12:15 PM
There is a lot to be learnned from how London is coping with last week's terrorist attacks. It is business as usual, with characteristic stiff upper lips being exhibited by the British. Prime Minister Blair's hour-long presentation in Parliament, widely convered in the papers, was mature, nuanced and articulate. It contrasted, I thought, with the more bellicose, simplistic response given by President Bush in a carefully selected venue, an FBI training institue, chosen to, is is customary, ensure that only supporters would be present in the audience.

Another contrast was the British decision, after 9/11 to support President Bush's declaration that America as 'open for business' with the decision of the US military to prohibit its personnel from traveling within the London Beltway (the A-25 ring road) for 'safety reasons'. This contrast has been widely reported in the British papers, reinforcing perceptions of American unilaterialism and unreliability as a foreign policy ally. Happly the decision is being reconsidered - but after the immediate damage has been done. America's soldiers can learn from the experience of traveling to London - and the lessons are worth learning.

It is a lovely cool day here, constrasting with Colombo's sulty temperatures - though I enjoy those too. I shall take a walk in Hyde Park this afternoon, one of my favorite London passtimes. And I shall certainly join Londoners traveling by tube and bus, when it seems convenient to do so.


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