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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 May, 2003, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
Anti-Americanism 'dangerous'
Tony Blair and George Bush
Britain is America's closest ally

Continued anti-Americanism could result in the US disengaging from the rest of the world with "dangerous" consequences, Nato General Secretary Lord Robertson has warned.

He was commenting on the threat to world order posed by the continuing rift between Europe and the US in the wake of the Iraq war.

Relations between America and France reached an all time low following French President Jacques Chirac's outspoken criticism of the US-led conflict.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was concerned about "trite anti-Americanism" in the UK, arguing it had "become fashionable".

It's a sort of racialist view that the USA is wrong in principle and wrong in practice
Lord Robertson

Lord Robertson and Mr Straw were speaking in "Which Way are We Facing", a BBC Radio 4 programme examining the British public's attitudes to the US and to Europe.

The programme, to be broadcast at 1900GMT on Monday, also looks at how much British anti-Americanism there is.

'Generic attack'

Lord Robertson, a former UK defence secretary, said: "Anti-Americanism I see not as a criticism of individual policies or even an individual president. It's a sort of racialist view that the USA is wrong in principle and wrong in practice.

"It is a generic attack on America and American standards and American values and approaches.

"I'm very worried about anti-Americanism because I think it is deeply corrosive to a relationship that is critically important for the overall security of the world.

Jacques Chirac
Chirac - out in the cold?

"These attitudes are deeply worrying, deeply corrosive and have to be tackled head on. If they're not, then the future is bleak indeed.

"If they continue to be criticised in that unreasoning and emotive way then I see disengagement being the outcome and that being much more dangerous to all of us than American involvement or interventionism."

Mr Straw echoed this concern and reminded people of the "immense" contribution made by the US "for the good".


"I am worried about trite anti-Americanism in this country," he told the programme.

"I think that people get obsessed about the United States because of its immense wealth and power. I think it's just become fashionable, this kind of anti-Americanism, and it's a convenient parody.

"If you look at the United States of course there are things that we would not necessarily approve of, but if you look at the US's contribution to where we are today, it has been immense and for the good.

"First of all they did literally save Europe from the most terrible tyranny in the Second World War but in addition if you look at IT, you look at biotech, the things that these days keep us going, make our lives happier and healthier, it's to America that we owe a huge amount.

"People need to remember that."


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