Blog powered by Typepad

« Whither Britain? #2 | Main | Allow me to introduce you to . . . »

Monday, 16 November 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


A few points:

1. The "special relationship" - "It didn't amount to too much in 1914 or 1940"

I don't think there was a "special relationship" before Churchill invented it - or, at least, named it. Despite the historical and cultural ties between the US and the UK, the US saw Britain (correctly) as the imperial power: a power the US had seen off in the War of Independence and a power to which the Americans were viscerally opposed. So, although Britain might have looked to the US for support in 1914 and 1939 it was bound to be disappointed (in the short run anyway). Thanks to the Germans who played good hands incredibly badly in both 1917 and 1941, the US was pushed into war much against its will.

FWIW, in 1940 my father-in-law was sent out to the Mid-West by the government essentially to represent Britain to the most resolutely isolationist - if not actively anti-British - part of the US. According to him (and others), had it been left to the mid-Westerners (many of whom were descended from German immigrants) to decide on US foreign policy we would have got very short shrift indeed. Pearl Harbor plus the declaration of war by Hitler on the US (literally, I think, madness) put an end to that danger.

2. You're absolutely correct about the importance of the Pacific in the US world-view to which I believe British strategists don't give sufficient weight. Roosevelt had enormous trouble with those in his administration - and elsewhere - who objected to his concentration on Europe/Germany rather than Pacific/Japan. However, such was the power of the US economy the US was able to fight effective wars on two fronts.

3. Again FWIW it's useful to consider - as you do? - the EU as analogous to the 19th century German Confederation (which also began as a Zollverein). The Confederation morphed into the German Empire in 1871 and Germany, for good or ill, took on the persona of the dominant German power, Prussia, which was expansionist and aggressive. (Had Austria-Hungary become the dominant German Power things would have been rather different.) Again the EU, for good or ill, will (as you predict) morph into a state taking on the persona of the dominant European power - Germany. We'd be well out of this although France would adapt splendidly: it's had practice, of course.

4. The British eurofanatics also claim to be realists. However, their "reality" is that of an enfeebled Britain supported by the might of Europe and in some mystical and unexplained way, despite the evident feebleness, having a weight and influence in Brussels denied to us in the wider world. Evident rubbish although Labour has contributed greatly to the enfeeblement part of the project. There again, Britain is only the vehicle, not the focus, of their ambitions. Our political class sees money and world-strutting rights for itself in Brussels (or Berlin) which it would be denied in a democratic Britain. Putting this prize at risk is something that class fights to prevent. Hence the near impossibility of getting a referendum on anything which might damage or deflect the drive to a European state. Were we realists we might consider that the fight for Britain is lost. I fear that is so but I hope not.

Hello, 'Bongers'.

1: Yes, you're quite right, until the haze of Churchillian sentimentality settled on us, the 'special relationship' was one of mutual irritation - putting it mildly - the sort of bad feeling that crops up from time to time inside a family. However, I use that word 'family' because I do think there was a strand of fellow-feeling between the ruling elites in both countries that recognised a mutual heritage. Not that that was enough to guarantee mutual support in a war! Also, you are quite right to describe Hitler's unilateral declaration of war as "madness". I wonder he didn't hear the sigh of relief that swept over from London!

2: Indeed, in those days the Americans could fight a war on two fronts and even today their military might should not be underestimated. However, I fear for the immediate and mid-term future. Rapidly going broke and in hock to the Chinese! Mind you, that spells equal trouble for China, too.

3: Yes, but at least the German empire really was German (less Austria). The EU pretends to be 'European' but is in reality (that word again!) German. I prefer to think of it as the New Frankish Empire.

4. The political class are a menace! I have a hope, very faint, that the new intake of Tory candidates might contain enough sceptics to keep Cameron honest - well, a man can hope, can't he?

"I wonder he didn't hear the sigh of relief that swept over from London!" and in the White House. At that point there was still no pretext on which Roosevelt could have persuaded Congress to agree to a declaration of war on Germany. Luckily Hitler solved that problem quite neatly.

Yes, he was our secret weapon, really!

The comments to this entry are closed.