What Nick Clegg Thinks about America

Article excerpt

Byline: Stryker McGuire

Is Britain's new deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, "anti-American"? Former prime minister Gordon Brown seemed to think so. He said exactly that about the leader of the Liberal Democrats in a televised debate before the May 6 election. On the one hand, Brown's slur could be dismissed as a desperate politician's runaway rhetoric. After all, Clegg sits at the heart of a brand-new coalition government led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, while Brown is back home in Scotland nursing defeat.

And yet there was just enough sting in what Brown said to make it a serious topic of conversation in transatlantic circles. Former U.K. ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer said afterward that Brown's assertion was "more than the usual smear--it actually rang true." He argued that Clegg's foreign-policy positions expose "a strategic tilt away from the United States."

Looking for evidence of Clegg's supposed anti-Washington bias, his critics frequently alight on a speech he made in March at Chatham House in London. Clegg argued for a rethinking of "the default Atlanticism that has governed British foreign policy" since the Suez Crisis of the mid-1950s and left London "acting, in effect, as an echo to the music set in the White House and Pentagon. …