Britain, Germany and France are all posting signs of dissent in the West. Last week U.S. President Barack Obama's White House found two good reasons to angrily criticize the British government, its most faithful and docile ally and client in the post-World War II period. This was perceived by some in the press as evidence of the weakening of that "special relationship" that has prevailed throughout the 20th century.

The United States has always found this relationship flattering, convenient and inexpensive, as it was paying next to nothing for services rendered, including Britain's being first in line to dispatch solders on missions primarily of interest to Washington.

The exception was Vietnam, when Lyndon Johnson begged in vain for London to commit as little as "a damned company of the Black Watch" so as to cause the war to seem an international crusade of democracies against communism. The British sensibly said no.