Editorial note: (1) If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our posts in context. (2) Not all the views expressed in this blog necessarily have the imprimatur of Antigone1984. Sometimes, for completeness or, more generally, “pour épater les bourgeois”, we may include propositions which do not automatically command our unqualified assent. However, long-term readers, particularly those who have taken on board our mission statement, will normally have an idea of where we stand.
10 July 2012
Refreshlingly nationalist sentiments enlived an unconventional op-ed article by career diplomat Christopher Meyer, British Ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2003, in London’s Evening Standard newspaper yesterday 9 July 2012.
Meyer holds the counter-intuitive belief that globalisation, “far from dissolving national differences, may actually be reinforcing them, as people struggle to hold on to their identity”.
We vehemently disagree.
However that may be, Meyer clearly approves of the nationalist reaction against moves, particularly in Europe, to obliterate the nation state.
Back in the 1960s, when he joined the UK Foreign Office, that department believed strongly in the national interest, according to Meyer. To that end, it believed that British diplomats needed to learn foreign languages in order to win friends and influence people around the world. Meyer continued:
“Unfortunately, at the beginning of the century, these skills fell out of fashion and a new doctrine took hold. The national state was deemed to be an increasing anachronism. Tony Blair invited us to cast aside notions of the national interest. Traditional bilateral diplomacy – between individual nations – was downgraded and multilateral diplomacy – within international organizations like the EU and the UN – became the flavour of the moment. The Foreign Office was reorganised to reflect the new priorities and its language school closed down.
“This approach simply did not reflect reality. Of course, some people were understandably carried away by the apparent success of the EU in dissolving old European enmities. Today, with a full-blown euro crisis, this can be seen to be the illusion it always was, with Europe now reverting to its natural condition of quarrelling national and cultural rivalries.”
Antigone1984: Well said, Sir. Spot on. Let us think about the country which is the driving force behind globalisation – the United States. The US is fully behind globalisation when it suits its national interests. Of free trade – by which they mean untrammelled trade by mega-corporations across national frontiers – the US is largely in favour. Yet, in defiance of free trade, the US continues to dole out farm subsidies and to support its arms and aviation industries with concessionary government loans and biased tenders. Politically and trumping economic considerations – unconditional support for Israel, refusal to accept the jurisdiction of international bodies such as the Hague Court, the exemption of US troops from legal proceedings in US-occupied countries, etc – the US always opts for what it sees as the US national interest above all other considerations. Basically, the US accepts globalisation when it suits its national interests. When it does not, it does not.
Worth thinking about, no?
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Das Vierte Reich/The Fourth Reich (6 Feb 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
5. What would Gandhi have said? (30 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.