If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Plague of Toads

WRM has a decent post on postwar/postimperial Britain's international situation and what to do about it. The first part is essentially a factual narrative and analysis, the second part a recommended policy for Britain.

Arguably it's a policy worth attempting. I'm not sure it will be attempted, in part because the new British government is built on foundation that does not share some of WRM's premises. If it was attempted, there is of course no guarantee it would be effective, but life, and policies, are not about guarantees.

There are three other policies that could be followed. One: The LibDem dream policy of integrating Britain into the Franco-German project, with Britain signing on to the "ever greater union" as envisioned by the Franco-Germans. Britain would stop becoming an "obstacle" and would have apparent/illusory influence. This influence would only be superficial, however, as it would consist of getting along by going along and not making waves.

The second option would be "splendid isolation," withdrawal from the EU itself. This does not have to be as catastrophic as one might think. WRM's article mentions Norway and the fact that Norway is not a member of the EU. But Norway has trading agreements with the EU, and other ties, and gets on fine.

The third option, the least likely option (and thus naturally my preferred option) is revitalization of the Commonwealth as an economic and political/international force: The commonwealth as a free trade area which also attempts to coordinate a common foreign policy wherever policy. Frankly I wish that this had been the course followed in the wake of WWII: Instead of America insisting upon effectively neutering the British Commonwealth, encouraging its transformation into a free trade zone and joining it, along with the Philippines and Japan. What I think of as the best is almost always the least likely/possible, but such is life. Plus, if America were to join the Commonwealth, arguably Britain's international influence would not be increased: It would instead just be the reverse side of the same coin that has integrating itself with Franco-German EU policy on the obverse. Only a Commonwealth Free Trade Zone that has Britain as its first-among-equals would potentially increase British influence in world affairs, and as long as India keeps growing as fast as it is, Britain's premere status would necessarily be temporary.

Odds of a revitalized Commonwealth, with or without the U.S. joining, lay somewhere between slim and none. Which leaves Britain with the other three options: WRM's, Harmonized Borgism, or Splendid Isolation. For better or worse, if one wants Britain to have more influence in international affairs (which is what WRM concentrates), neither the HBism nor SIism will achieve that. WRM's outline is the only policy within the realm of the possible that could produce this.

Of course, there are other goods than international influence. Britain might decide the best thing to do would be to avoid getting entangled in such as much as possible and working on its own domestic problems. In which case Splendid Isolation would be the best policy: Being drawn into ever closer union within the EU naturally would involve participating in whatever disputes it has, both within the EU and with the broader world. Britain would not be entirely isolated if it left the EU anyhow: It would still be a member of NATO, for example, and in any case should wake from the Europe-wide revere that war is over and one need not have the capacity to truly defend one's own interests: It should shift its spending priorities to insure it will have the capacity to deter, and if necessary defeat, Argentina again, should that prove necessary.



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