Saturday, December 29, 2007

Time for a British-led Anglosphere?

Cranmer rather likes this Telegraph article, and reproduces it in full because it ties in nicely with the suggestion of Senator John McCain that the world needs a ‘League of Democracies’ to challenge the hegemony of the UN. The importance of the article will probably be underestimated, or the article will be ignored altogether, but for all those who assert that the UK has ‘no alternative’ but the inexorable ‘ever closer union’ of the EU, this is doubtless it:

This week Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of the Australian, used his column to give a slightly embarrassed account of a successful coup.

He was embarrassed because the coup was his own work, political activism rather than reporting, and possibly involved more than one breach of confidence.

It began with his research for a book, The Partnership, on the US-Australian military and intelligence relationship, which is close and growing closer.

The more Sheridan examined this relationship, the more he was struck by something else: namely, "the astonishing, continuing, political, military, and intelligence closeness between Australia and Britain".

Even though Australia has little at stake in Europe and Britain only limited interests in the Pacific, everywhere Sheridan went in the US-Australia alliance, he found the Brits there, too: "Our special forces train with theirs, as we do with the Americans. Our troops on exchange with the Brits can deploy into military operations with them, an extremely rare practice, but something we also do with the Yanks.

"Australian liaison officers attend the most sensitive British intelligence meetings and vice versa, in arrangements of such intimacy that they are equalled only in our relationship with the US."

Sheridan was uneasy, however, because there was no formal alliance structure to give top-level political guidance to this effective but relaxed co-operation.

Events came to his aid: he was invited to a UK-Australia Dialogue in Canberra, attended by Tony Blair on a flying visit. At the reception, Sheridan buttonholed Blair, Australia's PM John Howard, foreign minister Alexander Downer, and almost anyone else who would listen to preach the necessity of a new UK-Australia security structure. He sensed they were unimpressed.

As he later discovered, however, at a cabinet meeting attended by Blair the next day, Downer proposed a new annual meeting of Australian and British foreign and defence ministers on the lines of their AUSMIN meetings with Washington. Blair responded enthusiastically - and AUKMIN now meets annually.

Well, an interesting little story, you may think, but hardly earthshaking. And if AUKMIN were an isolated incident, that would be a sensible response.

As Sheridan's account makes plain, however, AUKMIN merely brass-hatted an existing system of military and intelligence co-operation between Britain, Australia, and the US that was unusually intimate and extensive.

But the story rang several bells. I had recently been reading a Heritage Foundation study by the American writer James C. Bennett, in which he argued that such forms of developing co-operation were especially characteristic of English-speaking, common law countries such as, well, Britain, Australia and America.

There is a definite pattern to them. Citizens, voluntary bodies, companies, lower levels of government form their own networks of useful co-operation for practical purposes across national boundaries.

Over time, these networks become denser, more complementary, more useful, and more self-conscious, creating what Bennett calls a "network civilisation". In time, governments see the value of these networks and underpin them with new links - trade deals, military pacts, immigration agreements - creating what he calls a "network commonwealth".

Such network commonwealths may end up being more integrated - psychologically and socially, as well as economically - than consciously designed entities such as the EU.
If you want to know which countries the British feel really close to, check which ones they telephone on Christmas Day (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, America... but you knew that). Network commonwealths don't demand surrender of sovereignty, either.

Bennett calls the English-speaking network civilisation "the Anglosphere". This term, unknown in political circles a few years ago, now yields 39,700 entries on Google. As Christopher Hitchens pointed out in a recent article in the American City Journal, the idea is certainly in the air - and in respectable circles, too.

Its academic foundations are rooted in work demonstrating that England always had a more individualist culture than continental Europe, that the "civil society" tools of this culture were transmitted to the colonies settled from England, and that those countries have since not only prospered unusually, but also established a world civilisation rooted in liberalism.

Bennett in The Anglosphere Challenge makes unmistakably clear that it is English cultural traits - individualism, rule of law, honouring contracts, and the elevation of freedom - rather than English genes that explain this success.

These traits enable a society to pull off the difficult trick of combining trust with openness. Nations with different genetic backgrounds that adopt such traits seem to prosper more than their similar neighbours. Hence the Anglosphere includes India and the West Indies, as well as the "old Commonwealth".

The idea, lagging well behind the reality, is now seeping into politics. Last year Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, delivered an eloquent speech to the Australian parliament that praised the common British heritage linking both nations.

Even more significantly India's PM, Manmohan Singh, gave a speech at Oxford in 2005 that neatly stole the entire concept for New Delhi: "If there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English-speaking peoples, in which the people of Indian origin are the largest single component."

That raises a painful question. If Australians, Indians, Canadians, and even Americans can recognise the Anglosphere as a new factor in world politics, why is it something from which the Brits themselves shy?

To the best of my knowledge, the only politician to have embraced the idea is Lord Crickhowell, formerly David Howell, who held several ministries under Margaret Thatcher and who, from his City experience, knows that Britain's prosperity lies with the growing markets of Asia and North America.

Our fading Anglosphere ties give us an advantage over Europeans and other competitors there. If we were to pursue a deliberate strategy of strengthening such ties, we would discover a better "grand strategy" than the present muddled shuttling back and forth between Washington and Brussels, feeling a "poodle" to both.

Is our reluctance because we fear to touch anything that smacks of the empire? No such timidity restrained Singh.

Are we nervous that anything "English-speaking" might be thought incompatible with multiculturalism? Well, the first multicultural identity was the British one; today the Anglosphere spans every continent.

Is it politically dangerous as an alternative to Europe? That would only be true insofar as "Europe" failed to meet our needs - in which case we would need an alternative.

Or is it, as I suspect, that the Anglosphere offers us the prospect of national adventure that in our cultural funk we find too exciting - preferring to go back to the sleep of the subsidised?


Anonymous mickey said...

The Blair antennae will be twitching at the mention of this. Who could stand in his way? 'Leader of the English Speaking People of the World' - has a nice ring to it, does it not?

Seriously, though, this has to be the way for us to go. Boost the Commonwealth, ramp up the monarchy and we'll be there in a trice.

29 December 2007 at 12:40  
Anonymous Miss Jelly Bean said...

A pipedream, nonsense, obsessions with yesteryear, Empire, delusions of grandeur. The UN is hardly hegemonic since it is impotent. Britain's future IS in the EU like it or not. It is the next great empire and superpower and will put the US hegemony in the shadows.

29 December 2007 at 13:30  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Jellybean demonstrates (again) her lack of understanding.
A good article. It is the unforced nature of the relationship of the Anglosphere that partly masks its strength. To recognize it politically and reinforce it will simply be working with the grain of reality, whereas following "destiny" in Europe is very much against the grain and can lead only to more trouble and destruction. The common law tradition ALONE would justify the writer's argument, let alone all the other ties.

29 December 2007 at 13:40  
Blogger Richard Buckley said...

I don't wish to be pedantic but Lord Crickhowell is Nick Edwards, a former Secretary of State for Wales, not David Howell, Lord Howell of Guildford.

29 December 2007 at 14:07  
Anonymous 'God' may exist but he's only 'God' if I say he is. said...


Thankyou for an entertaining blog.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love the flag (is it copyright?), sort of agree with it all, know about the intelligence and stuff (the real special relationship).

Two crackpot wishes of mine to solve everything.

What a shame the Empire didn't give votes to everyone, free movement, a travelling parliament in India, Britain, the Americas etc. No Vision.

On a smaller scale, the British Isles are one country, move the Gvnt to Belfast (might even get Eire on side). You'd really have to want to be a politician to work there and would solve the NI problem properly.

A small confession, I am an atheist, (and a bottle of red the owrse) can you forgive me?

29 December 2007 at 16:10  
Anonymous billy said...

That was a really good article until I read this:
"These traits enable a society to pull off the difficult trick of combining trust with openness. Nations with different genetic backgrounds that adopt such traits seem to prosper more than their similar neighbours. Hence the Anglosphere includes India and the West Indies, as well as the "old Commonwealth".

Anybody who believes that Indians honour contracts isn't a self employed painter, electrician or plumber in the West Mids. They are notorious for failing to pay the agreed monies. Perhaps they are better at the international level.

29 December 2007 at 16:42  
Blogger the doctor said...

An excellent post your Grace , it encapsulates a lot of what I have previously thought . If , God willing , we get out of the E.U. this may be a plan B .

29 December 2007 at 17:12  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Your Grace

Please remember

God/The Gods, those that believe themselves to be Gods, and those that claim to represent God/The Gods on Earth.

Move in HIGHLY mysterious ways.

The dominance of the English speaking world and its enduring legacy 'Fascist and/or communist based capitalism' has never been so powerful, and getting stronger by the hour.

This in spite of our own propaganda efforts headed up by the BBC to disguise this overwhelmingly obvious FACT of life, from our own people and the rest of the worlds populations.

Don't worry for the establishments of this country, they know exactly what they are doing.

Its the imminent extinction of our cohesive traditional family based cultural lives.

Along with our hard died for individual liberty. Which CAN ONLY survive at all via the rule of simple common and common sense laws enforcing personal responsibility. Encouraged with the vital requirement of set in granite stone, property rights.

These are the things that should concern us the ordinary English speaking people, to the point of insomnia, right now. Not which type of flag we die under.

The EU would not in itself be a problem if it were not for the fact that the EU is the biggest excuse the political elites and their establishment could come up with to permanently destroy all of the above ASAP.


29 December 2007 at 18:08  
Anonymous Jack Daniles said...


You are beginning to make sense, clearly I'm pissed.

Merry Christmas.

29 December 2007 at 18:20  
Blogger paul ilc said...

Your Grace: An interesting article, if poorly written. I agree with the general point made, but the future for the Anglosphere is surely as a free trade area. If there is any 'multi-cultural' objection to this, our large Muslim minority may be indirectly restraining our politicians...

Miss jellybean: if the EU is not already a busted PC flush, then its 'democratic deficit' -- ie its totalitarian nature, top-down -- will be its undoing and decline. Birth rates say it all.

litle black sambo: I agree. Well said.

billy: fair point, but we can educate them - and they can educate themselves. When, 30 years ago, I was at Oxford, I found I had more in common with an educated Indian than an educated German student. When I visited India a few years ago, I was struck by the significant cultural compatibility between Britons and Indians -- particularly given the tolerance and open-ness of non-nationalist (ie non-BJP) Hindus, and their realistic gratitude for what Britain had done for India. However, India has much to understand about free market economics and sound business practices -- but they are making progress. (Also, you must remember that many sub-continental immigrants to the UK were/are from the most primitive and backward areas of India/Pakistan.)

29 December 2007 at 18:38  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Your Grace: An interesting article, if poorly written.

Alas, this is a hazard when one posts an article in its entirety. His Grace couldn't be bothered to re-write it. It is Saturday, after all.

29 December 2007 at 19:06  
Blogger paul ilc said...

Quite so, Your Grace, quite so.

29 December 2007 at 20:17  
Anonymous Nathan Hale said...

Miss Jelly Bean,

HA HA HA HA. Te-hee hee hee. Very funny, but this is not an internet jokes site.

Oh, you're serious? No, come on. The EU is becoming so bloated and top-heavy that businesses will be fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. Add to that a shrinking, spineless population that prefers drinking to working. And finally, add to that the problems of a exploding extremist population that will have its way in every sphere of public policy and you get...the end of continental Europe.

Sorry folks, it's curtains. The Continent is as good as over, finished, done for. This is the age of the New World, India, Russia, and China.

My sincerest hope is that England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland won't get sucked into the vortex of an imploding Europe. There are many, many Britons who still have the fighting spirit and won't let that happen.

30 December 2007 at 02:19  
Anonymous king kong said...

What hope for all this in a devolving Britain? Let's stop kidding ourselves and get back to being a, sorry, THE United Kingdom before we think about this sort of thing.

30 December 2007 at 02:54  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Stick around Jack

Everything I say will make perfect sense one day and reasonably soon.

A very prosperous, productive, happy Christmas and new year to you too.


Now we are well and truly IN and there really is no turning back. My advice to the people of the United Kingdom is this.

Disobey EU laws that you don't like as best as possible. Then protest until you are blue in the mouth, in order to force our government, whoever they are, to do the same or change the EU's deliberately destructive illiberal laws ASAP.

It is what all the other EU states populations do. Which is one of the reasons why many of them don't take the EU seriously or anywhere near seriously enough.

30 December 2007 at 03:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was just a bit humorous to speak of "a British-led" Anglosphere. The Anglosphere has been in existence for many years, and Britain used to be a much more active member of it than it has been in recent years. Since Britain has been bent on integrating itself into the self-destructive EU, it has had much less of a role in the Anglosphere. Does it not seem a bit presumptuous to speak of deciding to LEAD if you decide to enter the game again? -- Dr.D

30 December 2007 at 03:13  
Anonymous coal miner said...

More idiocy from Miss Jelly Bean:

" Britain's future IS in the EU like it or not. It is the next great empire and superpower and will put the US hegemony in the shadows."

The EU has NO oil and very little coal. The Anglosphere has huge resources of low grade oil (Athabasca tar sands) and high grade coal (Powder river basin) .

In an enery-deficient world, remaining in the EU is to be shackled to a corpse, or maybe a Russian-manipulated puppet.

Enery resources are the key to future power and prosperity.

1 January 2008 at 22:13  

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