Thursday, September 12, 2002

Gabb Again

Another mention of Sean Gabb, this time writing on Why Britain Should not Join in the War against Iraq in which he concludes "If the Americans really want a war with Iraq, let them fight it by themselves, and let them by themselves pay whatever costs it may entail."

Sean is one of the saner voices within British Libertarianism (which is not made up solely of the engaging but wrong neo-conservatives around Samizdata) and this applies especially to his analysis on foreign policy.

One of his more interesting also relates to the somewhat stalled dialogue between myself and David Carr on any role of the war in weakening Europe:

I can think of one other valid reason for war. This is that we have a strong interest in keeping friendly with the Americans. Sooner or later, some mainstream British politician will squeeze together enough courage to argue for withdrawal from the European Union. This argument will be more easily won if there is the alternative open of joining NAFTA. I would prefer withdrawal to be followed by no other connection. To twist the old Socialist Worker slogan, I want neither Brussels nor Washington, but complete national independence. However, domination by the second would be less humiliating and more accountable than by the first. And if we are to keep that option open, perhaps we need to show willing in whatever crusade Mr Bush cares to announce.

The argument against is that there is probably no such need. The Americans encouraged the formation of the European Union back in the days when they wanted a local counterweight to the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. Those days have passed, and the Americans are now beginning to see the European Union as at least an annoying competitor for world influence. Weakening it, by pulling Britain out, is in their interests regardless of whether we join or fail to join in their war against Iraq. Indeed, for the British Government to take the European line, of neutrality, might bring the weakening of the European Union closer to the top of the American foreign policy agenda.

The Cold War role that led to Britain's acsession to the European Union, and especially in persuading some otherwise sceptical Conservatives and right wing Labour politicians to support it is often overlooked. But that is for another time.


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