Wednesday, November 10, 2004
The Ties That Bind

Without descending into the conspiracy theories that dog Usenet or other commentaries, we can note the importance of networks in maintaining ties between the British and American elites. A good example of this organisation is the British-American Project for a Successor Generation that runs annual conferences and played a role in cementing ties between socialist moderates and the Beltway. Conservative (with a small c) members of this outfit include Stephen Dorrell, Alan Sked and David Willetts.

Whilst such ties were important for maintaining and reinforcing the Atlanticist perspectives in the Labour Party, they are countered by the traditions of anti-Americanism that have now allied with European ideologies for ballast. One recent example of this was the John Steele article in the Guardian, calling for the disbanding of NATO and European independence.

This article provides another example of the abandonment of British interests on the part of the Left. For 'independence' from the United States, they demand a united foreign and security policy, based upon the European Union. With their revisionist view of the twentieth century portraying the United States as a bullying threat and the Soviet Union as a weakling bestowed with military muscle by propaganda, the moral relativism of Communist apologists is revisited:

In contrast, a few members of the European Union who chose to take the considerable risk of staying neutral during the cold war - such as Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden - see no need to join Nato in the much safer world we live in today.

Do we really need American nuclear weapons to protect us against terrorists or so-called rogue states? The last time Europe was in dire straits, as Nazi tanks swept across the continent in 1939 and 1940, the US stayed on the sidelines until Pearl Harbor.

Glibly eliding the self-inflicted wounds of appeasement, Steele writes in a realist idiom that has proved more attractive to the Left since the Iraqi war. Moral and ideological arguments have proved wanting, so this emerging discourse marries the values of a 'European civilisation', proudly carried by the European Union, with the self-appointed task of providing a counterweight to the United States.

Ending Nato would not mean that Europe rejects good relations with the US. Nor does it rule out police and intelligence collaboration on issues of concern, such as the way to protect our countries against terrorism. Europe could still join the US in war, if there was an international consensus and the electorates of individual countries supported it.

But Europeans must reach their decisions from a position of genuine independence. The US has always based its approach to Europe on a calculation of interest rather than from sentimental motives. Europe should do no less. We can and, for the most part, should be America's friends. Allies, no longer.

This realist language, encouraged by the recent actions of the European Union, is arguably more dangerous in the long-term than our alliance with the United States. No-one ever argues that British interests are incorporated into United States foreign policy, since we are recognised as a separate sovereignty, despite an unspoken fealty to the daughter republic. The European ideology, on the other hand, speaks with its own voice, and subsumes British interests within the needs of the continental union.

As stated before, an Atlanticist tie remains a necessary counterbalance to the European Union, especially as the political classes of the latter express their 'interest' in terms of multipolar alliances, wooing China and Russia from a position of worsening decline.

(23.05, 10th November 2004)


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