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By Susan George

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Chamberlain had cared far more about India (a much more faraway country) than about Czechoslovakia, whereas Churchill was willing to use imperial outposts as bargaining chips with both Roosevelt and Hitler; and in dealings 20 I. LOVE with Washington the British were forced to mortgage what they actually held—in the Caribbean especially—as a down payment on Lend-Lease. It seems almost unbelievable now that the British should have panicked at the “prospect” of a Nazi invasion of Ireland, but it remains the case that Churchill (who had helped to fix the Partition of Ireland in 1921) offered to hand over Protestant Ulster to Eamon De Valera in exchange for the use of Irish ports.

It gave me a vertiginous feeling to be reading this at a moment when British soldiers, self-consciously shouldering an Anglo-American burden, were back on the Afghan side of the forbidding Khyber Pass—this time neither as conscripts nor as conquerors.

This paradox extended to his odd encounter with America—alternately hailed as young, brash, and experimental, and excoriated as vulgar, cynical, and acquisitive. It can’t be said that Kipling was the first Englishman to register this contrast, or to fail to reconcile it, but his oscillations were unusually volatile. In different moods he could compose a poem accusing the rebels of 1776 of stabbing the motherland in the back or a paean to the magnificence of Teddy Roosevelt. He affected to adore Mark Twain, and then wrote a virtual manifesto for Twain’s least favorite cause, the Spanish-American War of 1898 38 I.

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