Wednesday, July 10, 2013

William Hague - Strutting impotently and incompetently on the fringes of global politics

Britain matters - sort of. Our Imperial past and our honourable roles in Two World Wars put us at the top table as reconstruction started in 1945. Security Council membership as of right. Up there with the USA and the USSR ahead of France and, of course, the defeated Germans and Italians and Japanese. And ahead, of course, of "Red China" with whom we were shortly to have a proxy war in Korea. And a United Europe was just a dream - a glint in the eye of Mr Churchill who loved the idea, but didn't see Britain as part of it. Our special relationship across the Atlantic and our Empire/Commonweath meant that we mattered indisputably on our own.

Roll forward seventy years and all has changed. On our own we actually don't matter much any more. America remains pre-eminent. Russia is now democratic (sort of) and rich (sort of) but big, significant and not a serious military threat, though an economic one. China is the same (apart from the missing democracy). Germany and Japan, our former enemies and difficulties notwithstanding , are global economic powers of undoubted significance. 

In this changed world we may look across the Atlantic with nostalgia and we and the Americans may waffle on about the "special relationship" still. But it is living in the past to do so. Because the unavoidable reality is that our future is European or it is nothing. So when it comes to Egypt, or Syria or any other of the globally significant "Foreign Affairs" issues on Mr Hague's plate he should not be dancing to President Obama's choreography at all. He should not really even be dancing on his own but only as part of a European troupe. 

When David Cameron blocked Tony Blair from becoming (effectively) Europe's Foreign Minister he did Britain a huge disservice. Blair could, and would, have placed Britain at the centre of Europe's growing significance as a player of equal importance to the USA, Russia and China. Instead we have drifted to the periphery. Derided as disconnected from Europe as we play our foolish referendum games and as we still, or some of us, imagine that we alone have a global role to play. So Obama tells us what to do and we do it. 

We lost our Empire and still we search increasingly impotently for a post Imperial role. It's there for the grabbing. Blair would have grabbed it. Cameron should be an equal partner with the Germans and the French as one of the big three leaders of a United Europe. Instead he stutters impotently on the sidelines and Egpyt shows that we, on our own, have nothing to offer. Some old values maybe - but not much else. 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home