LONDON — It is becoming harder and harder to stay friends with the United States. Hands and hearts stretch out to the American people at this moment as they reel under the truly frightful trauma of the berserk Korean immigrant gunning down droves of students and teachers on a Virginian university campus.

It is the same, although on a smaller scale, as the wave of sympathy and friendship offered to the American people that went round the world after the horrors of 9/11. But what, people ask, does the world get in return? And the question is put with particular strength and feeling in London, where the British government has been second to none in standing by the Americans as they pursue their “war on terror” (now tactfully renamed) and as they lash out round the world trying to corner 9/11 perpetrators and strive — sadly unsuccessfully — to make the Middle East region a safer, cleaner place in America’s “apple pie” democratic image.

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