Feb 15, 2009

The end of the ‘special relationship’?

As I see images of a snow-bound Britain, and read about the sub-zero temperatures there, I am more grateful than ever that I am avoiding the severe winter by being on the beach in Sri Lanka. But if there is one downside to my slice of paradise, it is that I do not get any foreign newspapers here. The local press, alas, is simply awful. So I am pathetically grateful when visitors bring a stack of magazines and dailies from Pakistan or England. Although I have access to BBC World, CNN and Al-Jazeera, being a news junkie, I do not think the day is complete without ploughing through a couple of dailies.I followed Obama’s inauguration with great satisfaction: eight years of Bush were eight years too many. So let me share this joke that came my way via the Internet recently: an old man walks up to the White House and says to the marine guard at the gate: “I would like to see President Bush.” The marine explains that George Bush is no longer in residence as he is not the president any more. Next day, the man returns and makes the same request. Patiently, the marine repeats his earlier answer. When the guy comes back the third day and asks to see Bush again, the marine is a bit exasperated: “Sir,” he says. “Don’t you understand that George Bush is no longer president, and therefore does not live in the White House now?” The man replies: “Oh, I understand, all right. It’s just that I love the sound of those words.” The marine snaps off a smart salute and replies: “See you tomorrow, sir!”The fact is that the rest of the world loves the sound of those words, too. Whenever a new American president is sworn in, leaders of friendly countries try to position themselves as closely as possible to the new resident of the White House. However, no other leader is as anxious as the British prime minister to forge close links with the incoming American president.Ever since the days of Winston Churchill, the British have cherished what they call their ‘special relationship’ with America. But over the years, this relationship has frayed as Britis/By Irfan Husain/Daily Dawn Lahore

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