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Brexit – Taking the Broader View

by | Monday, 27th June 2016

As I write it is the 26th June 2016, less than three days after the polls closed and the British people voted to leave the EU. It has been the first weekend news cycle of Sunday papers and Sunday political TV. This is claimed to be the thoughtful, reflective part of the British political media. It has served us froth, panic and intrigue, and the febrile excitement of the Westminster Village. From Bute House we have had the yet more flushed and fevered imaginings of Nicola Sturgeon. It has been an unedifying sight.

It is in truth mighty early to attempt to take a broader view at what has happened, but if the reader would permit me I would like to try. Let me first lay before you some evidence

Exhibit 1: Barry Soetoro

The serving President of the United States of America, it is claimed, holds more power than any man on earth. The current incumbent is a man of dubious past, many name changes and little political substance. Compared to the presidents up to Nixon, or perhaps Regan, he seems an insubstantial character, smooth but featureless as a political operator. He nevertheless came as a personal representation of the hegemonic power of the “sole surviving superpower”; the American Empire as it is called by fans and detractors alike. His message was simple “Vote Remain”! He added in almost as many words “or else”!

The UK will go to "the back of the queue" for trade deals with the US if Britain votes to leave the EU, and a trade deal is "not going to happen any time soon," warned the President. So we are clear as to the instruction aren’t we?

Exhibit 2: Long Term American Interest being Served

The European Union was always a CIA project and the US policy has long been for Britain to be in the united European super-state. This issue was covered in the Telegraph by the always accomplished Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

It is worth quoting at some length:

For British eurosceptics, Jean Monnet looms large in the federalist pantheon, the emminence grise of supranational villainy. Few are aware that he spent much of his life in America, and served as war-time eyes and ears of Franklin Roosevelt.

General Charles de Gaulle thought him an American agent, as indeed he was in a loose sense. Eric Roussel's biography of Monnet reveals how he worked hand in glove with successive administrations.

As this newspaper first reported when the treasure became available, one memorandum dated July 26, 1950, reveals a campaign to promote a full-fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The key CIA front was the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), chaired by Donovan. Another document shows that it provided 53.5 per cent of the European movement's funds in 1958. The board included Walter Bedell Smith and Allen Dulles, CIA directors in the Fifties, and a caste of ex-OSS officials who moved in and out of the CIA.

In a sense these papers are ancient history. What they show is that the American 'deep state' was in up to its neck.

We can therefore clearly see that the US intervention in Brexit was no spur of the moment affair, no response to a new situation, but rather the latest act of a 70 year project to build a United States of Europe that is friendly, controllable and biddable – part of the American Empire of “soft power”.

Exhibit 3: The result

As a jubilant Nigel Farage, a sombre David Cameron, a stunned David Dimbleby and a PTSD’d Keith Vaz announced to the world, The British people voted 52%:48% to leave.

In short we did not obey.

At Suez we obeyed; in Afghanistan we obeyed, in Iraq we obeyed. This time we did not. This is, I think, the bigger picture.

Adam Tooze, in his excellent book on the First World War and its aftermath, Titled “The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order” noted the following:

The strongest versions of the argument insist that the capitalist world economy has since its inception in the 1500s depended on a central stabilising power – be it the Italian city states, or the Habsburg monarchy, or the Dutch republic, or the Victorian Royal Navy. The intervals of succession between these hegemons were typically periods of crisis.

Bringing this analysis up to date, the succession from the hegemon represented by the Royal Nay was a slow and painful process. It started around the time of the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, or perhaps shortly before. The British Empire showed in South Africa a failure in political leadership, and showed it too, over the question of Irish home rule. The Empire was near its zenith but the superiority of ideas, of industry, of judgement and perhaps of humility that had marked its start no longer applied. The rot had set in. The fresh ideas, the soft power, the confidence, the optimism would increasingly pass to the United States of America.

The US for its part had recovered from the holocaust of blood-letting that marked the war-between-the-states to be a true empire state, spanning a continent sea to shining sea. Its position on the two great oceans and its ability to take advantage of the world trade ensured by the Royal Navy saw vast and breakneck progress to become an industrial agricultural and economic giant. During the first decade of the 20th Century this soft power increasingly eclipsed Great Britain.

The hard military power did not however. That transition can be more precisely dated to December 1943/ January 1944. This was the point when the US effort against Germany surpassed that of Britain. The US build up progressed apace while Britain cut numbers of Spitfire squadrons and infantry divisions due to lack of manpower. Before this point, operation Torch was called a US operation for propaganda reasons but involved many British Troops, and mostly British ships, planes and know-how. In the battles that followed, there was no doubt who was the senior partner and no need to exaggerate the American contribution – it was vast.

Taking the Tooze thesis that such transitions are times of crisis and examining the period 1910 -1944 we can see his idea is not falsified, quite the reverse, we have a worldwide, international crisis.

And so I come to my point: what does Brexit signify?

It shows on one level a reawakening of Britain’s idea of itself, it shows the failure of the corporatist, deceptive, smothering entity that is the EU, but more than that;  MUCH more than that; it marks the end of American hegemony. Unable by gentle persuasion or obvious threat to keep the most compliant of its vassal states in line, bankrupt, woefully led and bereft of ideas, the USA’s star is waning.

We are entering a period of crisis.