Grosvenor Square is a small park adjoining the US Embassy in Mayfair, London. It’s been the traditional home for the official US presence in Britain since the first mission established by John Adams in 1785. During the second world war, a military headquarters adjoined the square, and the US Naval Forces Europe continued to occupy the premises until recently.
Today, the park holds various memorials to the war and to American presidents with particular resonance for US / UK relations: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan. I stopped at the Eisenhower memorial after finishing my passport renewal yesterday, a casual bronze statue enclosed by a small marble circle. The plaque set beneath details his accomplishments leading US and European troops during the war, as chancellor of Columbia University, and as two-term President.
I can’t imagine what he would make of today’s politics, or of the populist figure elected to lead the nation. It’s an enormous change in a generation from Eisenhower to Trump, from the unity of the post-war years to divided identity politics.
The memorials across the park are meant to celebrate achievements and outstanding leaders with inspiring visions. What statue, what plaque, could be erected to President Trump, if the first week in office is any indication?
‘not to end with too much gloom: the Dutch have posted a lovely satirical video that requests that if America’s Frist, can the Netherlands please be second?