Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Some news from the Anglosphere

As our readers know, we on this blog are great supporters of the Anglosphere. We do not believe the UK should be tied into a centralized, protectionist and rather backward looking political bloc, otherwise known as the European Union. Nor do we think that the alternatives are being integrated into the EU or being stuck somewhere half-way across the Atlantic, hoping for some attention from our biggest ally, the United States.

The Anglosphere, linked by language as well as economic, political and constitutional ideas is developing and will probably be the most powerful entity of the century. The question is, are we going to be part of it or shall we go down gallantly with SS Europe?

One aspect of this development is the growing political and military links between the United States and Australia. These recognize some things that we have forgotten in this country: the growing importance of the Pacific and mutual reliance between two powers.

Some people are watching it, though, among others Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute. In his latest paper Towards and East Asian Strategy, he points out that:

“The warmth of US-Australian ties since September 11, 2001 stands in stark contrast to the tension between Washington and some of its traditional transatlantic allies. Both Washington and Canberra have benefited from the upgraded relationship: Australia has gained influence over its superpower ally and has enhanced its prestige in Asia, while Washington has received what it most needs for its post-September 11 foreign policy--an imprimatur of legitimacy.”

Mr Blumenthal talks of the Franco-German line as being representative of Europe and this may seem like over-simplification, as far as the war against terror and, specifically, the war in Iraq are concerned. More European countries have been supportive than otherwise.

It is, however, true that the support has often been half-hearted and badly defined. But there is more to it than that. As my colleague has pointed out in his postings on defence in this country, the integration of European defence, whose specific aim is to challenge the United States, rather than to work alongside it and other allies like Australia, is going ahead.

The only time there is any interest in what is going on in the Pacific (apart from natural disasters) is when China somehow swims into the news, either as the “villain” for selling cheap and high quality goods or as the supposed “friend” who will help us, the Europeans, challenge the United States. No other interest or understanding seems available.

Between the US and Australia, argues Blumenthal, the situation is different.

“Washington and Canberra have also taken concrete steps to build closer ties:in 2004, the two countries signed a Free Trade Agreement, a memorandum of understanding on missile defense cooperation, and a joint statement on interoperability and the establishment of a combined training facility. The latter two agreements will tie American and Australian armed forces closer together and help Australia meet its objective of forming a more expeditionary force capable of undertaking coalition operations. Not long after, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upgraded the ongoing US-Japan-Australian trilateral security dialogue to the ministerial level.”

It is, as my colleague has argued over defence procurement, the concrete steps that are vital not the high-flying rhetoric, of which there has been no shortage.

Mr Blumethal is hopeful that the alliance will grow and strengthen, despite the present mild disagreement over China and its role in the area. Sooner or later the problem of Beijing’s regional ambitions will become unavoidable and it may cause problems between the two close allies.

However, as Blumenthal says, “the alliance’s endurance through a host of challenges is cause for optimism”. When we add to that recent agreements with India as well, we can see a shift in American interest as well and the development of a new and probably enduring network of alliances. Will Britain be part of it?

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