Here, in miniature, is a classic example of that whole British approach to our relationship with the US, which I call the Jeeves school of diplomacy. Impeccable manners; a discreet smile; always perfect loyalty in public; but privately murmuring insistently, “Is that wise, Sir?” And back home in Jeeves’s own club, frequented – as devotees of PG Wodehouse will recall – only by gentlemen’s gentlemen (ie butlers), you tut-tut about the foolish conduct of the masters.
This has, in some measure, been a British approach for more than 60 years, ever since hegemony passed across the Atlantic. (For this Jeeves was himself a master once.) But it has been a national strategy with ever diminishing returns, and it has no remedy for the circumstance that Bertie Wooster goes berserk. What does Jeeves do when Wooster starts torturing people in a back room, or getting a Moroccan butcher to do the penis-slashing for him? What if Wooster embarks on what you believe is a dangerous and mistaken war? From everything we know so far, the British Jeeves’s answer was to murmur by turns: “Might I assist you, Sir?”; and “Is that wise, Sir?” That was the approach not just on particular horrors like extraordinary rendition but also on the Iraq war and the whole misbegotten concept of the “Global War on Terror”. For all along, the Foreign Office, and much of the British government, knew better, knew that this was not wise or right, and would privately tell you so.
Danmark er i sammenhængen så ikke Bertie Woosters Jeeves, men hans jagthund. Men ellers, touché.