Sunday, 12 June 2016

UK Sovereignty? What Sovereignty?

The decline of the British Empire, a welcome event, in my opinion, was not a matter of any one factor but rather a series of contributory factors. Initially parts of the Empire were granted Dominion status, that is each member of the old Imperialist state received autonomy over their own affairs yet remained nominally part of the 'empire.'  Mostly, this transfer was done through peaceful means although sadly not in the case of Ireland. 

Having fought the First World War, which put a dreadful strain on the British economy, Britain then found itself again at war with Germany some twenty years later. To wage war against Hitler's fascist state, one supported initially by American business if not American citizens, Britain had to borrow money sufficient to arm the nation. To this end, they sought, ironically, financial help from the United States. At this stage, the so-called special relationship didn't exist. Even so, thanks to American money Britain was able to defend itself.

Although Britain broke the back of Nazi Germany's advances during the Battle of Britain, it was Russia and the United States who brought the German's and their dictator down. Victory against Japan was almost entirely due to the United States with only a small part played by Britain. These events brought Britain and its control over the Empire to its knees. 

A deal was brokered between Britain and its one-time colony. A deal that involved Britain borrowing $US 3.75bn (US$57 billion in 2016) from the USA and a further US$1.19 bn (US$16 billion in 2016) from Canada. This was a crippling debt. One that didn't get paid back to the USA until 2006.

It was Churchill who first coined the phrase 
'special relationship.' He had the good sense to see the shift in imperial powers and wanted to hang fast to the burgeoning imperialism of the USA. This was 1946. In truth, this so-called special relationship goes back further than that. Probably as far back as the 19th century. After all, both America and Britain, then as now, are at their hearts conservative and share similar if not the same political agenda in terms of world denomination. 

By 1942 India who had long been pressing for independence but who had met with the British elites blank refusal continued to argue for autonomy. This changed in 1946. Britain had promised congress, in a bid to win their support, that they would give India its freedom. They honoured their word. They had little choice in the matter. India gained its sovereignty and a new nation was created in the process - Pakistan. This single act precipitated the end of British Imperialism. With her overseas military might greatly diminished and her colonies gaining independence the old empire went the way of all historical empires. The Empire was dead. Long live the Empire.

Following the Korean war (1950 to 1953), which both the USA and the British partook in, the 'special relationship' cooled a little. With the UK still recovering from bankruptcy they no longer had the wherewithal to act as global police enforcing their imperial power. It was a role the USA willingly stepped into.

It was Clement Atlee, possibly the best post-war Prime Minister Britain has had, who cemented links with the USA in 1946 by joining NATO. After this, in 1952, Churchill exchanged chemical weapon secrets with the USA so Britain could enjoy the benefits of having a nuclear defence. When Suez erupted in 1956, as the French and British along with Israeli forces went to war with Egypt so it was the USA who forced the triumvirate to back off. This would have been a massive humiliation to the French and British. 

British Prime Minster Harold Wilson, named on the Beatles 'Taxman' song, was thought by the socialists in his party to have been a lackey of America. This may have been true but When the Vietnam War was being fought Wilson refused to send troops telling his American counterpart, President Johnson, that although Britain supported the war effort we wouldn't be sending  a military presence. This was not received well.

In 1979 Margret Thatcher came to office followed a year later by her American political soul mate, Ronald Regan. Between the two a new form of politics was unleashed. It was a merging of conservatism with classic liberalism which forged an entirely new, utterly hideous force. Neconservativism fueled by a Neoliberal free-market philosophy. Suddenly, Britain and the USA held a single agenda. Even if they had minor disagreements about the British led reclamation of the Falklands and its US-supported dictatorial government and the US invasion of Grenada. By and large, the two nations followed similar principles. There was only one head of the beast, though.

When Bill Clinton swept to power with his 'New Democrats' in 1992 only to be followed five years later by Tony Blair and his 'New Labour' party, again we had two premiers whose policies merged in a mutually beneficial way. Suddenly the one time progressive, if still 
conservative Democrats and the one time home of British Socialists found a bond that united them. As Clinton declared and Blair echoed, a 'Third Way' political force had been found. This 'Third Way' was nothing but neoliberalism made over but it certainly provided the sufficient glue to unite the UK and the USA. However, no matter how Britain may have liked to think otherwise, there was only one superpower in the friendship.

When George W. Bush entered the White House you would have thought his Republican Party's views would have clashed with Blair's but no, due to the smudging of political policies, with neoliberalism forever on the ascent, the two got along just fine. A little too fine.

The war with Iraq was a false war based on lies and deceits. Those lies and deceits were discussed at the time, opinions formed and dislike voiced and by vast amounts of the electorate. In Britain alone 2 million people took to the streets in protest. This didn't stop Blair from supporting Bush, less supporting him than slavishly encouraging him. No weapons of mass destruction were never found which I find surprising. Why? Who is the biggest manufacturer of armaments? The war went ahead. Two war criminals in the making.

There are twenty-three USA military bases in Great Britain. The UK houses the United States nuclear weapons having been told by America that the missiles are here to defend us from a nuclear airstrike.  CND hold a different view...

"Contrary to US claims, this system (consisting of missile bases and radar stations across the world and including sea-based components) will allow the US to attack other countries in a first strike capacity without fear that they will be able to effectively attack back because such a retaliation would be neutralised by the system. In other words, the US Missile Defence system is offensive. Having such a weapons system inevitably leads to an arms race as other countries feel pushed to level the balance of power and threat by developing their own competitive missile defence systems or weapons systems that might overcome the US system."

The reason America gives for installing nuclear weapons in the UK is, they say, to defend against an Iranian attack. As Iran has no nuclear weapons this makes very little sense. They have the capability to build weapons of mass destruction but don't have any missiles. What it does do is enrage Russia who has already seen their borders advanced upon by the USA and NATO. This advance is creating greater hostilities. Russia is now flexing its might as we have seen in Syria and with the annexation of Crimea. This has been in response to the deal agreed between the USA and Russia following German unification and re-armament, that the West would not move within one inch of Russian soil.  The West has advanced far more than an inch. In return, Russia is preparing for war.

Should the Great Bear charge there is very little we in the UK can do about it apart from dooming us all by firing those missiles. In fact, we would have no choice as said button would be pushed as from afar. This again from CND...

"The US Missile Defence system is a provocative military system, under the guise of defence. It will make the world even more unstable and insecure with the possibility that parts of the system will be based in Turkey, Israel or the Balkans. Its development encourages a global arms race and increases tensions with Russia risking a new Cold War."

This does not give us sovereignty but rather removes it in a manner more subordinate than being part of Europe. We are so closely linked to the United States that if we leave Europe their government's control will increase. If that isn't a lack of sovereignty I'd like to know what is?

Presenting the United States as being the bad guys in all this is not only missing the point entirely it is guilty of shallow thought. Yes, America is the superpower that runs the western world and whose empire casts a long shadow over the globe but who controls American policies, its Presidents? Whose empire is it really? Certainly not Americans. The answer to that is the same corporations that control Europe. Globalisation is the prominent force in the world today. It is the unseen Empire.

It is they who set agendas; they who incorporated the World Trading Organisation; they who promote how the poor can get rich by hard work; they who ensure no matter how hard your endeavours they are never hard enough; they behind TTP, TTIP and TISA. It may sound dramatic to accuse these invisible people of being masters of the world but that is what they are. 

There are very few nations who baulk at this capitalist empire for fear of having their democracies overturned. Honduras, its democratically elected Socialist government was overthrown following 2009's USA led military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya's administration. Democracy and freedom are barriers to the spread of free trade, of corporate capitalism. The few that do sit outside this group are either Islamic nations or the likes of Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa. All of these are threats to the Empire for they are emerging economies and therefore must be isolated.

The United States are facing an economic collapse. China's economy is approaching crisis and of course, Europe is diving deeper into its own financial mire. Another world recession threatens, in fact, it is more likely to be a depression. If ever we needed greater democracy it is now. Democracy in the UK, democracy in Europe, democracy worldwide.We haven't got sovereignty now nor will we have should the UK leave the EU. The only way to ensure sovereignty is through democracy and not by seeking a false sovereignty in fixating on leaving Europe
. This will not restore greatness to Britain. We already are great. We just don't know it or value democracy enough.

So then, why this populist movement to leave the EU when it is not they who the UK follows slavishly? Leaving Europe will not give the UK greater strength to defend its national sovereignty it will diminish it. Globalisation is not a European or Eurozone invention. The EU's lack of direct democracy is the issue. To remain and fight for democracy rather than retreat into an island fortress is the only option. By fleeing Europe, by seeing only the small picture, by hauling up the drawbridge, will not deal with migration but more importantly will not slow globalisation - it will speed its process.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog