There'll always be an England. High tea and a room at Brown's, London's most traditional old hotel, where Rudyard Kipling wrote "The Jungle Book" and Agatha Christie set her novel "At Bertram's Hotel," offer a certain reassurance that God's still in His heaven.
Brown's was established in 1837, not very long ago as our English cousins measure years, by James Brown, a gentleman's valet to Lord Byron, and his wife Sarah, who was Lady Byron's personal maid. The luxury is so grand, the service so discreet, it's a waste not to make it a naughty weekend. The smartly renovated premises, with dark wood and tradition carefully preserved, reek of what an American visitor expects London to be.
When you're tired of London, you're tired of life, as Dr. Johnson famously said, but neither he nor Lord Nelson, Wellington nor Churchill would recognize the exhausted realm of the Blitz and the defiant bulldog. The stiff upper lip quivers in the face of the hard slog ahead through the long twilight struggle the radical Islamists have forced on the West.
Tony Blair, slouching toward a not entirely voluntary retirement, needed a hundred Tories last week just to keep Britain's nuclear deterrent up and running. Nearly a hundred rogues from his Labor Party majority deserted him on a crucial vote to update the Trident submarine-based nuclear weapons system. The vote marked the largest defection since 139 Labor members voted against continued British participation in the Iraq war four years ago and the third time that Mr. Blair has had to call in help from the Tories.
David Cameron, the ambitious but damp new leader of the Tories, reveled in needling the prime minister even as he was coming to his aid. He urged Mr. Blair not to "appease" cut-and-run critics in his party who want "to run away from a tough decision."
The critics, embittered like the Democrats on the foolish left in our own country, vowed not to give up before they strip England of its doomsday defense. One such, representing a Scottish constituency, told Parliament that "the majority of the Scottish people, all its churches, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the majority of the [Scottish] members of Parliament are against replacing Trident."
The Trident deterrent, measured against the American and Russian submarine fleet, is tiny. Only four subs comprise the fleet, but each is armed with 16 nuclear missiles, each with three and eight warheads, each with nearly 10 times the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima to subdue a defiant Japanese Imperial Army resisting the inevitable in the final days of World War II. Replacing the four subs will cost nearly $40 billion. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Greenpeace, which have been trying to render Britain naked to its enemies for more than a half-century, say the subs will likely cost $200 billion, not $40 billion, with the suggestion that survival, with all that trouble and at all that cost, just isn't worth it.
The anti-war crowd, the spiritual descendents of the unbathed "better red than dead" peaceniks of the Cold War years, still suggests wet wool, catarrh and bad breath, propelled by churchmen presiding over lovely old buildings, empty pews and with nothing to say on Sunday morning. An unlikely dissenter is scathing.
"Once again the Church of England has been wrong-footed by passing a last-minute motion declaring the renewal of Trident to be unethical," Michael Nazir-Ali, the bishop of Rochester, wrote the other day in the Sunday Telegraph. "The church has been left in a position, which can be seen as mere moralizing and trying to dictate defense policy."
He turns a skeptical eye on North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and says bluntly: "Nuclear weapons are here and they are not about to be disinvented. As they have done in the past, the churches have a duty to set out the moral criteria for having, developing or replacing a nuclear capability. It is not their task to tell government what to do or to make policy." Alas, 'tis a lonely voice.