There is a very good interview on the Council on Foreign Relations site with Walter Russell Mead. (Interview here.) Mead is pitching his new book entitled Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America’s Grand Strategy in a World at Risk. (Order from Amazon here.) Mead was the author of the brilliant book Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, which brought us the word “ Jacksonian,” which may be the most powerful meme in all blogdom.
Another widely blogged-about meme is the Anglosphere. I notice that Mead makes a few points which are noteworthy to those of us who are interested in the present and future of the Anglosphere.
On the economic dynamism of the Anglosphere, Mead offers this:
[O]ne of the things that I think has made the English-speaking world–kept it kind of in an economic leadership role for centuries now–is that there’s a kind of the trade-off between accepting the risks and rigors of free-market capitalism on the one hand, and that causes a lot of social discomfort and unpleasant change; on the other hand, it brings you benefits in terms of new technologies, higher productivity, faster progress.
The English-speaking world, and especially the United States, has usually been pretty comfortable with pushing that trade-off in the more free-market direction, which, on the one hand, gives us historically a kind of a lead, often, compared to the rest of the world, but, on the other hand, means that our society is sometimes pulling the world in directions it doesn’t really want to go.
(I think “English-speaking world” is the way you say “Anglosphere” in polite society.)
Mead notes that from the ‘30s to the ‘80s, Europe and America seemed to be converging, but that is no longer true, now the Europeans are seeing:
…this raw Anglo-Saxon capitalism coming into their lives, and they resent it. And there’s a sense in which the American model of capitalism is now diverging from the kind of–from where Europeans and others thought was going to be a kind of a permanent convergence; you know, that in the year 2050, we would all be like Sweden. And as that has begun to diverge, it’s getting harder and harder for Americans and Europeans to agree.
As a true Jacksonian American, I say, yeah, good, screw ‘em.
Mead, looking ahead sees ongoing trouble with the Moslems, of course, though there are some signs of progress. (See, e.g., this Mead article on Algeria.) Of course, there is also the potential challenge of China. Mead then adds:
There is one country in the world which hates the idea that China would be geopolitically dominant in Asia and also hates the idea of fanatical Islam dominating the Middle East. That’s India. So you can make a solid argument that, at least potentially, in the 21st century, India may well be the most important strategic partner of the United States, because we have more points of real solid contact there.
Points of solid contact, indeed. India is an Anglosphere country, in large part. (See this earlier post.) The recent Wall Street Journal article, “Is India Shining?” by Gurcharan Das demonstrates this well. (Can’t find the link … . Probably subscribers only … .) Das recounts that in the ‘90s,
…many Indian minds became decolonized. This mental liberation is a powerful force in national regeneration. A changed attitude to English illustrates the new mindset. Ever since the British left we have heard constant complaining against the English language, and thin in the ‘90s it suddenly disappeared. Quietly, without ceremony, English became one of the Indian languages. English lost its colonial stigma, oddly enough, around the time that the Hindu nationalists came to power. Hindi-language protagonists lost steam because their lost their convictions – their own children wanted to learn English. Based on present trends, India will become the largest English-speaking nation in the world by 2010, overtaking the U.S. … Today, young Indians in the new middle class think of English as a skill, like Windows.
This linguistic commonality, plus the common security interests Mead notes, are also accompanied by an increasingly effective and strong democracy in India. Das notes that India is growing rapidly, but that the crappy performance of its government is no longer accepted as part of the order of nature. “Despite strong growth, Indians are unwilling to forgive bad governance and this is the weapon they use against incumbent politicians. They don’t re-elect them.”
A democratic, booming, Anglophone India with common enemies bodes well for a strong US-Indian alliance in the years ahead. Mead is on the money with that.
Mead also an interesting comment about Blair and Europe. He comments that Blair’s original plan was to lead the U.K. “into the heart of Europe,” but that events have taken him in a “radically different direction, from the one he’d originally planned.” He then notes that Blair has announced a referendum on the E.U. Constitution, and that polls show only 15% support for it in Britain. He then predicts that, despite Blair’s political skills, “Britain may still be hanging out on the fringes of Europe when he steps down from the prime ministership, and that … would more or less force them into having some kind of a relationship with us, because otherwise it would just be too lonely and cold out there.”
Right. Far too lonely and cold.
Time for a North Atlantic Free Trade Area, with Britain joining NAFTA.
Forward the Anglosphere.