Friday, September 13, 2019

Will Britain Again Stand Alone?

Speaking of history, assuming that anyone cares about it any more, we should notice that Great Britain is currently involved in two conflicts. One, within the nation, involves some curious political circumlocutions. The British people voted, via referendum, to exit the European Union. The British establishment prefers to remain within the EU, regardless of what the people think. They are trying to stop Brexit via parliamentary maneuver, and doing so, in a colossal irony, in the name of democracy.

And then there is the conflict between Great Britain and the rest of the European Union. We recall that these other countries were once allied as Axis powers in World War II. Today's leading continental nation, Germany, once occupied most of the European countries that are allied against Great Britain, again. Other nations were fascist dictatorships, allied with Germany, against Great Britain.

So, Britain stood alone among Western European nations in the war against Germany. It does so now, and its people have apparently decided that, having stood alone in Western Europe during World War II, it does not want to continue to be a vassal of European bureaucrats. Surely, victory does not make you depend on your defeated foe.

Victor Davis Hanson raises some of these issues in a column about Brexit (via Maggie’s Farm):

The story of Britain has mostly been about conflict with France, Germany, or Spain. The preeminence of the Royal Navy, in the defiant spirit of its sea lords, ensured that European dictators from Napoleon to Hitler could never set foot on British soil. As British admiral John Jervis reassured his superiors in 1801 amid rumors of an impending Napoleonic invasion, “I do not say, my lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.”

Britain’s sea power, imperialism, parliamentary government, and majority-Protestant religion set it apart from its European neighbors — and not just because of its geographical isolation.

Remember when Britain stood alone:

In World War I, the British lost nearly a million soldiers trying to save France and Belgium. In World War II, England was the only nation to fight the Axis for the entirety of the war (from September 1939 to September 1945), the only Allied power to fight the Axis completely alone (for about a year from mid-1940 to mid-1941), and the only major Allied power to have gone to war without having been directly attacked. (It came to the aid of its ally Poland.)

And now the question is, whether Britain will remain with an EU that seems destined to fail, or whether it will chart its own course.

Over the last 30 years, the British nearly forgot that fact as they merged into the European Union and pledged to adopt European values in a shared trajectory to supposed utopia.

To the degree that England remained somewhat suspicious of EU continentalism by rejecting the euro and not embracing European socialism, the country thrived. But when Britain followed the German example of open borders, reversed the market reforms of Margaret Thatcher, and adopted the pacifism and energy fantasies of the EU, it stagnated.

British pragmatism against continental idealism, British free market capitalism against the socialist, pacifist and environmentalist illusions of the continent.

In part, it’s about conflicting cultures:

But after hundreds of years of rugged independence, will Britain finally merge into Europe, or will it retain its singular culture and grow closer to the English-speaking countries it once founded — which are doing better than most of the members of the increasingly regulated and anti-democratic European Union.

Continental European nations spend nothing on defense. They leech off of the United States. The nations of Eastern Europe are not buying the Merkel open arms policy toward Muslim migrants. Regulation is stifling their economies. And the nations of the South are in permanent debt to their northern neighbors:

Europe is alarmingly unarmed. Most NATO members refuse to make their promised investments in defense. Negative interest rates are becoming normal in Europe. Unemployment remains high in tightly regulated labor markets.

Southern European countries can never fully repay their loans from German banks. The dissident Visegrád Group, composed of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, seeks to create a mini alliance inside the EU that promotes secure borders, legal immigration only, nuclear power, and traditional values and Christianity.

England now has to decide whether it wants to go down with a sinking ship. 


Sam L. said...

I have said elsewhere, though perhaps here too (my memory being not what it never was, as best I recall), that Mr. Trump should tell the Euro nations that he's pulling our forces out (or perhaps moving them to Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic) and the rest of Europe is ON ITS OWN (don't call us; our answer is NO). (Or words to that effect.)
It's your mess to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Sam L, you mean keep troops in Alsace region as in post WW2?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Trump should’ve pulled the United States out of NATO after Merkel’s gas pipeline deal with Putin. If she’s willing to do that and leech off the American security umbrella, NATO is a fool’s errand because Germany’s economic pact with Russia makes the whole military alliance irrelevant.

Sam L. said...

Anon, we've been there and done that. The French are on their own, Belgians, Italians, Germans, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, too. They're big enough to stand on their own two feet.