Who Is America's Closest Ally?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 7, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: When President Bush launched the War on Terror (search), British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) stood by his side. The commander-in-chief calls Great Britain a true friend. But the Brits' connection gets lost on other foreign policy issues. So, now who is being considered America's closest ally?

Joining us now is Michael Rubin, American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and former political adviser for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

So, Michael, the Brits are or aren't our best friend these days?

MICHAEL RUBIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: The relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair is very strong. The problem is what's underneath Tony Blair. Increasingly, at the working level, the policies are just diverging completely on the war on terrorism, on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on Iran, and, importantly, also on China.

GIBSON: Well, so, what does that mean, that we can't count on the Brits, that, when you scratch the surface, they really aren't our best friend anymore?

RUBIN: I would argue that, increasingly, that's what it's looking like. They're still going to be an important ally. They're perhaps our most important friend in old Europe.

But our interests go beyond that. For example, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the former British U.N. adviser and the head British diplomat in Baghdad, paired alongside Ambassador Bremer, who was the American head, he denied hotly in the press that there's any disputes between the Americans and the British, but then he helped British diplomats write a letter criticizing Bush and Blair on issues of democracy.

Oftentimes, Bush is sincere when he talks about democracy. What is success for him and for us is a constitutional democracy in Iraq. What the British seem to be after, increasingly, is a benign autocracy, like in Egypt. I mean, that's just one example of where our visions have collided. And the British press, the chattering classes, have also taken this anti-American to a new level.

Even in The Daily Telegraph, the British conservative paper, two columnists were fired for being too pro-American and too pro-Israeli, according to an interview their editor gave.

GIBSON: You know, Michael, if we lose the Brits, we still have, you know, stalwart allies like Australia. That's nice. But they can't send 10,000 troops on an Iraq venture. What did they end up contributing, 500? Don't we need the Brits very badly?

RUBIN: We do need the Brits, no doubt about it.

And the fact that British troops are in Iraq is a testament to Tony Blair's leadership. In the elections which he recently had, he lost several dozen seats because he alone is standing up to an increasing wave of British anti-Americanism. Increasingly, though, yes, we could use the British help. Yes, the Australians have put themselves on the line as well.

Remember that insurgents have tried to blow up the Australian Embassy in Baghdad five times. Likewise, we had our September 11. The Australians have had their October 12, when Al Qaeda terrorists killed 200-some-odd Australians in Bali, the issue being that, increasingly, while the war on terrorism is fresh in our minds and fresh in the Australian minds, among the British public and among the British diplomats and the British elite, it's becoming a little bit less of a priority for them.

And we see this in some of the reporting and some of the cynicism about our policies towards democracy and the war on terrorism. Fundamentally, we're beginning to operate with different cultures.

GIBSON: Michael Rubin, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

RUBIN: Thanks.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.