All Americans, particularly the left, would do very well indeed to read Tony Blair’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. A few highlights:

…. I know one thing. If we were under direct threat, America would be our ally. I know that its people enjoy, as we have seen, a vibrant competitive democracy; and that in America, Hispanics, blacks, Asians and former Europeans live together, worship in their different ways and can rise from the bottom to the top in a manner we could do well to emulate. I didn’t agree with Michael Moore’s film. But in America he was able to make it and be praised for it. This is called freedom. We are in danger of forgetting these simple truths.

If America were to pull up the drawbridge, retreat from its obligations and alliances abroad, the terrorists would attack the rest of us. They are not interested in America as America. They are interested in America as the most powerful actor in pursuit of beliefs they fear as much as we value them.

And if America did withdraw: if when Kosovo came up, they said no; told us to sort out Al Qaida in Afghanistan ourselves; said we could tackle nuclear proliferation on our own, where would we be? Would China be ready to fill the space? Or Russia? Or India, great though those nations are and strong though our modern partnership with them is?

We are not fighting with America in Iraq because we are their allies. We are their allies because we believe that their fight against terrorism is our fight too; because if they fail, we fail; because their way of life and ours is lit by the same light of freedom, the same love of democracy, the same fellowship of reason.

If we in Europe ever need final convincing of this, talk to the recent democracies of central and Eastern Europe; tell them we are indifferent to the American alliance and see in their shiver of apprehension the most significant argument for us maintaining it.