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After Bush: How to repair US alliances

Bush's exit won't suddenly fix things. Both sides need to step up.

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In January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and US entry into World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt wheeled himself into the White House bedroom of his guest, Winston Churchill.

He was startled to find the British prime minister in the bath. Roosevelt began to back out, but Churchill rose from the bathtub and stood before him – naked, pink, plump, and dripping. "Come back," he is said to have cried. "The prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the president of the United States!"

The winner of the presidential election is unlikely to have such intimate relations with America's traditional allies.

Barack Obama and John McCain both hold their attractions for the allies. Obama's emergence has caused one long swoon throughout Europe and beyond: even the unromantic Australians favor his election by a margin of nearly 5 to 1. McCain is not feeling that kind of love, but he does have a history of taking alliances seriously, which is appreciated by old hands.


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