It occurred to me this morning, listening to more news reports from London, what a great friend the United States has had in British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Back in September of 2001, Tony Blair flew in an uncertain time from London to Washington to be present for the President's address to Congress and the nation (and indeed the world) after the attacks on New York and Washington. At the time, we didn't know as much about what had happened and what kind of risks he was undertaking by making that trip; he couldn't have known if the flight was safe or if he was leaving his country at a time it might have been similarly attacked. Still, he came to be with us to mourn, console, and prepare a response; he was there for us in our hour of need.
Blair has withstood substantial criticism from not only the opposition parties in Britain but from within his own voter base, his own party, even his own cabinet. He has led his country to be America's most steadfast ally in recent years when the easier, safer, and probably politically wiser course would have been to stand back, not participate, and criticize us from the sidelines. We Americans have had many friends and much help from around the world -- from the Spanish, the Italians, the Poles, the Canadians, the Pakistanis, the Turkmens, the Uzbekis, the Russians, and many others. But we have had no truer or stronger friends for the past four years than the British.
It's obvious, but it should be said anyway: It's time for us to return the favor. To Blair personally, in the form of unflinching, unambiguous, and unrestrained political support; and to the UK as a whole, in the form of unreserved sympathy and consolation, such assistance as it may need rebuilding from the damage of yesterday's attacks, and in the form of intelligence, assistance and support for finding the bastards responsible and tracking them down so that they can be brought to justice. They should be tried in a British court and punished according to British law.
We owe the Brits all the help we can give to make that happpen. They did it for us.
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