One of the most revealing interventions in recent times in our domestic politics by the United States Federal Government occurred the other day. I have copied several of the reports below.
There is an old adage that the best test for why things happen is summed up in the old Latin phrase Cui Bono? (to whom the benefit?).
Trying to answer this test suggests that the intervention by Mr Gordon of the US State Department may have been designed to help Mr Dave Cameron out of his little local difficulty. Mr Cameron of course wants to appear tough enough on the EU to satisfy his restless Eurosceptic back-benchers whilst not in fact doing anything significant to rock the EU gravy train.
The intervention does however raise several further interesting issues, not least why the Obama administration should think that the ostensibly democratically elected leaders of the British State would be interested in helping Obama achieve his foreign policy objectives within the EU. Here we are bought face to face with the naked truth of office within the British political system. Because of course doing what the US administration and US political and media establishment want British leaders to do gives rewards to those individual leaders whether they be Tony Blair or Dave Cameron.
Not only these get most tremendous opportunities to look far more important in the world than leadership of a second or third rate power in the periphery of the European mainland would normally entitle them to. This includes possible opportunities to address Congress and the United Nations and get their trotters onto the top table, generally a “punch above our weight on the world stage”, but it is also very likely to lead, on retirement or losing office, to hugely lucrative opportunities such as Tony Blair has enjoyed since retiring. So a once struggling barrister, with limited inherited wealth has turned into a multi-millionaire (not least because of his reputed six billion pound advance from Rupert Murdoch’s business empire for his memoirs).
The sad fact is that we have already given or are committed to giving anything that Dave Cameron may want from us. By doing 2½ years as Prime Minister he is already qualified for one of the largest index linked pension that the British State grants to anyone. He will also qualify for a pension as a MP when he retires. The store of honours and preferment’s including a peerage, if he wants it, is already wide open to him. There is very little personal benefit that we can offer to him to encourage him to do anything that he has promised to us in the Conservative manifesto. In these circumstances it is simply going to be personally better for Dave Donald Cameron to “sell us down the river” to the US Administration!
Here are the articles I mentioned, What do you think?
Telegraph: The United States wants Britain to stay in the European Union for its benefit - not ours
What's their relationship? Washington should persuade EU leaders to recognise Britain's difficulties with a new federation
The former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger was once quoted as saying (though he cannot remember doing so): “If I want to talk to Europe, whom do I call?” The answer, in fact, has always been fairly straightforward. If an American president wanted the interests of his country represented in the chancelleries of the EU, then the first number on his list was always that of the British prime minister. It is for that reason that Washington is so alarmed by talk of a British exit from Europe.
Without Britain, the EU would constitute a powerful political and trading bloc often hostile to America; but with Britain at the table, Washington is guaranteed, at the very least, a sympathetic hearing. It is therefore understandable that the Obama administration is worried about the possibility of a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the 27-nation group. What is harder to accept, however, is the way Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary of state for European affairs, voiced those concerns ahead of David Cameron’s keynote speech on Europe, which is expected to pave the way for a referendum in 2018.
Since briefings by officials of his rank are normally off the record, it is hard not to conclude that his intervention was deliberately timed to influence this increasingly fractious debate. Indeed, when this newspaper reported before Christmas that the Americans were unhappy with Mr Cameron’s approach, Washington dismissed a story that it is now happy to see broadcast widely.
However, the Americans are not keen for us to stay in the EU for our interests, but their own. Mr Gordon said America wanted an outward-looking EU with Britain in it. This may sound an attractive prospect, but it is not the direction of travel in Europe. Over the next year or two, the eurozone countries will almost certainly forge a closer relationship that will make a renegotiation of the UK’s position inevitable. The status quo is simply not going to be an option, a point that the public understands and with which Mr Cameron is trying to come to terms.
Instead of trying to caricature this predicament as a Eurosceptic fantasy, those who wish Britain to stay in Europe should be exploring positive ways to make it happen. Washington could better use its influence to persuade EU leaders to recognise and respond to the difficulties that Britain will have dealing with a new federation on the Continent. As a nation, we may well conclude that staying in the EU is in this country’s long-term interests. However, we must not conduct our foreign policy on the basis of what is right for America, but what is best for us.
We cannot let America's tactical interests dictate Britain's sovereign destinyBy Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The US warnings on British exit from the EU are boilerplate American diplomacy. Washington has been saying these things ever since I started following the matters closely almost 25 years ago.
The Americans are correct in a narrow sense. British withdrawal would be a major blow to US strategic interests. Washington relies on the EU to be broadly friendly, a pillar of global free trade, stable, and calm.
The White House does not want to be distracted by internecine European disputes as it switches its main focus to the Pacific Rim – the "Asian Pivot" – and deals with the really dangerous issue of China’s maritime conflict with Japan and South East Asia.
The UK is the crucial swing vote in the EU system, as I witnessed many times during my Brussels days.
People forget now that France and Germany tried to block EU support for US policy in Iraq. (Rightfully so, you might argue, but that is another matter).
They convoked the famous "Praline Summit" in Brussels to denounce the war, and only Luxembourg and Belgium turned up at the meeting. The talks were held in the Hilton Hotel because the EU refused to offer the Justus Lipsius building for a protest meeting by a minority.
What actually happened is that 16 of the 25 (then) EU states supported US policy, either by sending troops directly or with logistics. This provided crucial political cover for Washington.
This would not have happened if the UK had been detached, à la Suisse. Without a British big brother to rely on, Europe’s smaller "pro-American" states would have tucked in behind the Franco-German axis.
Much the same happened with the anti-terror legislation (again, you could argue that these were bad laws, but my point is merely that the UK helped America get its way).
It happens over countless issues. The British play a key balancing role within the EU system, working with a patchwork of coalitions – typically with the Germans on trade, competition, and economic issues.
The EU would undoubtedly become a different animal post BRIXIT. The dirigiste and protectionists forces would start to gain the upper hand, much to the horror of Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Ireland, and a few (but not all) of the East Europeans.
There is certainly a case to be made that the EU would start to unravel. It has always been my view (not widely shared) that British withdrawal would be a body blow to the EU Project. Yet the debate always focuses on how much damage Britain would or would not suffer, as if the EU would simply go on as before. That is a static and essentially empty debate.
So yes, the Americans want us to do their lobbying for them inside the EU. If you read the WikiLeaks Cables from London to Washington, this is made crystal clear. There is nothing wrong with this. It is entirely understandable. Indeed, the cables offer a very benign picture of US diplomacy. They refute evil empire claims.
But at the end of the day, the British people cannot let America’s taste for tidy structures in Europe determine policy on matters that go to the heart of our democracy and sovereign self-government.
For me the snapping point was the disgraceful saga of the European Constitution, which I covered in minute detail as it wended its way through the Convention.
It was supposed to return power to the nation states under Laeken Declaration, but in reality was exploited by Project insiders to push for a quantum leap in EU integration – most crucially by turning the European Court into a supreme court with jurisdiction over all "Pillars" of EU affairs, the killer twist.
When this was rejected by French voters, and then by Dutch voters by an even bigger margin, EU elites ignored the verdict. Chancellor Angela Merkel brought it back as the Lisbon Treaty with the collusion of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy (who by then had an absolute majority in parliament), and together they rammed it through without referendums. It was an executive Putsch by EU leaders.
The Irish supreme court ordered a vote in Ireland, the only country where people were given a chance to express a view. When the Irish then voted `No’, they were made to vote again. Britain should not remain a member of an organisation that behaves in this way. It is as simple as that, and I think a great number of readers concur.
The Lisbon Treaty went through. It solved nothing, of course. It did not streamline EU governance as claimed. Lisbon ended up creating a twin-EU presidency (Van Rompuy and Barroso), more incoherent than before. Yet the effects are far-reaching in other ways. The European Court is now an imperial court with sweeping powers.
This is no longer a treaty organisation of fully sovereign states. Fiscal union (of sorts) is now going further, stripping national parliaments of control of tax and spending, draining democracy of its lifeblood. The EMU crisis has left states subject to a monetary dictatorship by a rogue central bank that topples governments and is accountable to no democratic body. Mario Draghi is a fine strategist and a dedicated public servant, but the structure in place is monstrous.
Americans often compare the EU with US membership of NAFTA or the United Nations, as if there is any relevant parallel. American would not dream of putting up with a full-barrelled assault on Congress. We should not put up a such an assault on Parliament.
At the end of the day, Washington will accept the fait accompli and slot us into its strategic system, just as it slots in Canada, or Australia, or Brazil, or Norway. Besides, do they think it promotes stability in the long-term to trap Britain into a miserable marriage?
Europe too will learn to adjust. The idea that we must be locked into this intolerable status quo forever is preposterous.
Of all the bad arguments for being in the EU, the worst is to humour Barack ObamaBy Daniel Hannan
Let's see how the Brits like being colonised…
Diplomats the world over tend to be the EU's biggest fans: the system, after all, was designed by and for people like them. The US State Department has been consistently Euro-integrationist since the 1950s, pouring resources into various European pressure groups that shared its aim. Back in those early days, its concern was to build up the Western alliance. The EEC was seen as a way of strengthening Nato and keeping countries out of the Soviet camp. We can argue about whether that rationale was valid even in the 1950s; it certainly hasn't been since 1989.
After the end of the Cold War, the Brussels élites started picking fights with what they called the world's hyperpuissance. They channelled funds to Hamas, declined to get tough with the ayatollahs in Teheran, declared their willingness in principle to sell weapons to China, refused to deal with the anti-Castro dissidents in Cuba, started building a satellite system with the Chinese to challenge American 'technological imperialism' (J Chirac), hectored the US about its failure to join various global technocracies and complained about domestic American policies, from cheap energy to the use of the death penalty. Most Americans, even some in the State Department, have started to grasp, Frankenstein-like, that the EU is turning against them. So now they want the most pro-American member state, namely the United Kingdom, to get stuck in and moderate these anti-yanqui tendencies. Would we mind abandoning our democracy so as to help them out?
Well, sorry chaps, but yes, we rather would mind. Of all the bad arguments for remaining in the EU, the single worst is that we should do so in order to humour Barack Obama, the most anti-British president for nearly 200 years. It's not even as if he reflects American opinion toward the EU. To treat Philip Gordon, or any other Foggy Bottom stripey-pants, as the authentic voice of the US on this issue would be like treating UKREP as the true voice of the UK.
Still, since he's decided to wade in, I have a question for Mr Gordon, and for other American Euro-enthusiasts. When are you planning to pool your sovereignty with Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba?