The Telegraph has an editorial, “Britain belongs in the English-speaking world,” which is right on the money. It notes Mr. Blair’s ongoing commitment to the Anglo-American effort in Iraq, in defiance of any narrow political calculation. It notes also that, on its European flank, despite Mr. Blair’s best efforts, “Britain finds itself in its traditional position within the EU: isolated and resented.” It then raises the over-arching question: “Mr Blair faces the same dilemma as each of his predecessors since Churchill: is Britain to be part of a European bloc, or are we to retain our links to the wider English-speaking world? Are we a continental power or a maritime one?” Mr. Blair, however, can no longer have it both ways. The Europeans are, reasonably enough, going to demand a yes or no answer to whether Britain is going to be part of a much more integrated, unitary European entity.
The Telegraph then opines:
The view of this newspaper is that Britain’s place is in the wider community of free, English-speaking peoples – the “Anglosphere”, to use the current buzzword. But it is worth pausing to note that we are perfectly capable of acting independently of both Washington and Brussels. The United Kingdom is the fourth-largest economy in the world, the fourth military power, one of five permanent members of the Security Council and a member of the G8. … The case for the Atlantic alliance is simple. More often than not, our interests and the Americans’ coincide. Like them, we have an interest in stability and free trade among nations. This makes us especially hostile to local bullies and ready, if necessary, to deploy proportionate force against them. … We are not bound together just by sentiment and history, though such things matter, but also by a genuine community of identity as societies that place a special value on individual liberty and the rule of law. … [T]he majority of British people still feel a special affinity with the states touched by our colonising and enterprising energies, where common law and Westminster-style democracy prevail.
I hope this is correct. I hope the British reject the EU Constitution. And I hope the American government will take advantage of this opportunity to offer to strengthen the political, economic and military ties between our two countries. It would be best if the British people had an affirmative alternative to “Europe” in prospect, to strengthen their resolution to vote against becoming a province of a European Reich, a fate they have avoided through heroic effort for hundreds of years.
Interesting article and thoughts there.
…However do people like Michael Gove, Daniel Hannan and Andrew Rosindell really believe in the Atlantic partnership? My bet is that they do, but for how much longer? Remember that Maggie herself played a prominent part in the 1975 Yes campaign for remaining in the EEC and pushed through the Single European Act. On Cold War logic alone a United non-commie Europe was sensible (remember that EEC opponents like Enoch Powell doubted the very existence of a Cold War, and as for Tony Benn…) and as the Cold War cooled down right wing Euroscepticism stoked up.
It could be quite quick, it could be quite slow, but Atlanticism will not always be the majority faith on the right of British politics. The first stirrings, like Boris Johnson’s piece above, are already out there. And this should be a warning for the generation of wannabe Tory politicians and opinion formers in the wings. Don’t be too attached by ideas such as the Anglosphere or Atlantic trading blocs….
Goldstein from that branch of Toryism which deplores the Anglo-American connection, thinks there was really no big difference as far as Britain was concerned between the opposing parties in the Cold War, deplores the loss of the Empire, thinks that Britain should have cut a deal with Hitler, and is generally anti-American as well as anti-European.
The point is not, as Goldstein would dismissively have it, that “Atlanticism” is a “faith”. The point is that Britain’s actual interests are not served by being incorporated into a Franco-German continental bureaucracy. This conclusion can be reached by a process of examining the facts, and requires not faith but the will to face the facts.
Despite talk of an “Angloshpere” I think the people of Great Britain and Canada for that matter have much more in common and agreement with Europe than the US. This has been the case for a long time now and will continue. The US-British coalition over the Iraq war is a highly temporary arrangement that the vast majority of Brits despise. Their fundamental world view is still socailist vs. libertarian, and this is where the REAL friction comes from.
I have stated this before but, there seems to be a misuderstanding that America’s fundamental cultural and philosophical grounding is “English” and/or Anglo-Saxon in nature. The truth is much more complicated. Scotsmen (who in the 18th century were not really “Anglo-Saxon” in culture or geneology)such as Adam Smith and John Locke formed some the fundamental historical philosphies that were the basis for the Revolutionary movement in Colonial America. Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” was fundamentally a protest against the English mercantilist Empire of the time, not a glorification of it. The US Constitution is a document which has no peer in Britain or in Europe to this day.
America blended many English and Scots-Irish (Celtic) cultural and philosophical traditions (not always peacefully) to create something distinct from Britain, something most Brits are keenly aware of, subconsciously at least. While today English, Scottish and Welsh (less so Irish) are mere differences searching for a distinction, in mid-conflict these two groups moved to America where their conflict took a different path. In Britain the Celts were defeated and their culture and philosophical outlook were largely replaced by English traditions. In America they were blended together to form something distinct.
Personally, I think the idea of America and Britain having a long-standing alliance is un-likely. Whether that means that they offically join Europe or not is another story. But their philosophical and ideological cousins are certainly in Europe, not America.
I don’t think it is in Britain’s interest to definitively choose the American or the European camp. The British maximize their world influence and freedom of action by not making this choice. France and Germany, and America too, would surely treat Britain with less respect and consideration otherwise.
I think the British understand this and I think they will be strong enough to continue the struggle to “have it both ways” with success.
I think it could break either way.
England is only the #4 economy right now, but it is not part of the Euro community and the Stagnation of Growth pact. They are on schedule to pass Germany pretty soon now. And they are one of two countries in the world with a 21st century command and control structure and the ability to project force anywhere on the globe. That military structure integrates better across the Atlantic than across the Channel.
Given a few hearty pushes, like tax harmonization and loss of the foreign policy veto, England might well decide to stay on the periphery of the EU. Leaving would be tough – a large and increasing share of their trade goes to the continent.
Which is one of the reasons i wish that NAFTA included England, Australia and New Zealand right now, today. (I wish for the Netherlands as well, but they are so Euro zone they actually follow the Stag Pact… unlike the Franco-German alliance.) And go to work hard on making sure Japan and India know they are welcome and can join as soon as they decide it is in their interest.
Yup, too idealistic.
Matya no baka
“…to definitively choose the American or the European camp…”
Lily, they have no choice. They have to say yes or not to being further integrated into Europe with this referendum. In effect, they can remain an independent country with strong ties to the US, like Canada, or cease to exist as an independent country and become a province of a European super-state. Europe requires “closer and closer union”. The transatlantic tie makes no such demands. But the referendum is a day of decision.
DSpears, as always, your thoughtful response is appreciated, and as usual, I have serious disagreements with it — in fact, in this, total, point-for-point disagreeement. I will write more about the Anglosphere soon, I hope, and take up many of your issues then.
MNB, I think including the UK, Aus. and NZ in NAFTA is a viable program for a second Bush administration. Let’s see what happens with the referendum there and the election here.
said… And they are one of two countries in the world with a 21st century command and control structure and the ability to project force anywhere on the globe. That military structure integrates better across the Atlantic than across the Channel…
This makes them much more valuable to Europe than to the US. Europe ‘needs’ such a capacity whether they think so now or not. I hope Britain chooses the Anglosphere, but Europe may offer a better deal in the short run.
“DSpears, as always, your thoughtful response is appreciated, and as usual, I have serious disagreements with it — in fact, in this, total, point-for-point disagreeement. I will write more about the Anglosphere soon, I hope, and take up many of your issues then.
Any hints as to which ideas I will need to prepare defend?
I’m not making the case that an “Anglosphere” doesn’t really exist, I’m mostly quibbling over semantics. I just don’t think it’s an overwhelming binding influence amongst the countries that supposedly are members. Language and vestigal cultural artifacts do not a lasting alliance make.
Sorry, I did incorrectly identify John Locke as Scottish (he was born in England) but David Hume most certainly was, certainly one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite influences.
DSpears — where’s the fun of having my own blog if I can’t launch surprise attacks?
Bottom line, I’d like to do a meaty post on the Anglosphere sometime soon, and not do it piecemiel, in comments, that’s all.
This thread seems, except for DSpears, to be focusing on the “it will happen” side of the Anglosphere. There are many philosophical differences that would indicate the UK would stay with Europe.
I was sharply reminded of one by the current Economist “Rumsfeld should resign” position. The symbolic resignation at the top of the hierarchy contrasts with the individual responsibility emphasized here. The UK is not as far along the road of hierarchic responsibility as Europe or Japan. Two examples spring to minde:
– The resignation of the Netherlands government taking responsibility for not having done enough to prevent Srebrenica.
– The propensity of Japanese CEOs to resign accepting responsibility at a hint of scandal, thus covering for it and protecting the managers and workers below them.
It’s pretty hard to imagine either situation in the US. We might find a CEO resigning, or reducing their pay or bonuses, but they would want to see the most significant offenders punished as well. And certainly even Republicans are not keen on pushing Clinton’s responsibility for not reacting to Rwanda.
It’s a continuum of course. Top level responsibility is pushed here when it suits someone’s ideology to embarass that corporate or governmental leadership. But it’s an intent to embarrass and isolate, we don’t seem to believe that the resignation will actually happen. The UK is not as far along the continuum as Japan and the Netherlands, but, as the Economist position indicates, seems farther along than the US.
Matya no baka
MNB, I think you are mixing too many issues here. The premise of your comments seems to be that Rumsfeld either has done something that warrants his resignation or has allowed to happen on his watch behavior that was so bad that he should resign to keep the system honest.
I don’t think either of these premises is true. Such bad behavior as there was appears to have been done by a handful of low-level people who are going to be punished, and the behavior wasn’t very bad in the scheme of things. Rumsfeld appears to have been on top of the investigation. It would be a different matter if he had covered things up, but he didn’t. As another blogger noted, it makes no more sense for him to resign in this case than it would make for a state governor to resign due to misbehavior by a few prison guards.
The Dutch govt resigned because they had failed to act in the case of a massacre. Abu Ghraib is hardly in that category of evil, nor did Rumsfeld fail to act — indeed the Army publicized the investigation before the press even knew about it.
And the Japanese model may go a bit far. Accountability is important, and I think some people should have resigned — e.g., the heads of the CIA and FBI post 9/11, Norman Mineta, Janet Reno after Waco — but if you make resignation the remedy for every little bureaucratic failure, then calls for resignation are likely to become just another political bludgeon for use by opponents of the current administration, as is currently the case WRT Rumsfeld.
“The premise of your comments seems to be that Rumsfeld either has done something that warrants his resignation or has allowed to happen on his watch behavior that was so bad that he should resign to keep the system honest.”
Actually, that seems to be the Economist’s editorial position. Mine is closer to yours:
“Rumsfeld appears to have been on top of the investigation. It would be a different matter if he had covered things up, but he didn’t.”
What i was trying to say was that this is also a more typical US opinion, while the attempt to push responsibility “up the ladder” is more typical in the UK. In Japan or Europe, it goes even farther, where a government or CEO will take responsibility, possibly shielding the rest of the bureaucracy, without outside pressure. (This latter possibility is different from the usual US usage of “cover-up” as the top of the bureaucracy is sacrificing itself for the middle layers rather than trying to hold on in the face of a bad situation.)
In the context of this thread, i was arguing that the similarity between the UK and Japan / Europe position along this continuum argued against an “Anglosphere” forming and for the UK drifing further into the EU.
This is not a decisive argument mind you, just a countervaling factor in a thread where posts other than by DSpears presented evidence on the other side.
And some day i will learn how to post comments here that are clear first time around rather than having to have someone point out to me where they are ambiguous. Thank you for your patience in helping me get there.
Matya no baka
I misunderstood your comment. Thanks for clarifying your meaning.
Comments are closed.