Thursday, 9 November 2017

Brexit dismantles the delusions of the establishment

Tim Collins writing in The Times remarks that "The sorry truth is that, even on the threshold of leaving Europe, Britain has no foreign policy to speak of. It is hard to think of any global dispute in which our view matters, apart from the fight we have picked with the EU. British irrelevance is not helped by the fact that we have an unspeakable foreign secretary who should never have been appointed and now ought to be sacked. Yet it is also more than that. It is a sign of times to come".

The premise of his article is that the latest ministerial shambles exposes what we’ve been hiding from for years - "we’re a lesser power than we think". Course, one would ask; who is this "we", paleface? It's a jolly good wheeze to wag the finger in the direction of Brexiteers, and you will get no argument from me that that Johnson, Patel et al are odious specimens, but if we want to talk about those with delusions of greater glory then we need look no further than our remainer establishment.

A report in late 2015 described Britain as suffering from a crisis of confidence in foreign policy that leaves it “sidelined in Syria, ineffective in Ukraine, unwilling in Europe, and inimical towards refugees”. These are the words of a report by some of Britain’s most senior former diplomats, intelligence officers and foreign policy academics.

Authors of the damning report include the former head of British intelligence Sir Richard Dearlove, the prime minister’s former adviser on international affairs Jonathan Luff and HSBC’s chief economist Stephen King.

The report claims that the crisis of confidence stems from a crisis of identity as "successive prime ministers and foreign secretaries shy away from significant foreign policy engagements”, leaving Britain “self-absorbed and insular”. The commission says: “There is a great deal of disquiet among the UK’s diplomatic community that British foreign policy lacks a clear purpose, and that as a result there is an approach to the distribution of resources that lacks strategic coherence".

This is not altogether surprising since our foreign policy is schizophrenic at best. On the one hand we seek that elusive "special relationship" with the USA, keeping our defence policy aligned with them, meanwhile we outsource regional policy to the EU - with the rest being a grey area. There are obvious conflicts and contradictions stemming from member states respective former colonial interests. It is a wonder it functions at all.

But one only need examine how our military adventures in recent years have played out to see where the UK stands. Iraq was motivated by a militaristic me-tooism, seeking to re-enact the glory days of allied righteous victories, but in the end marked Britain as incompetent and arrogant in the extreme. Similarly our contribution to Afghanistan was ineffectual where as far as the UK battlefield contingent goes, we could best be described as a nuisance.

Having learned nothing from that, David Cameron was at the front of the queue to be seen to to be leading the campaign waged against Libya which has since been described as Europe's Iraq. Following that I have ever seen parliament so eager for military engagement than when it voted for strikes in Syria, resulting in less than a dozen Tornados engaged in a long campaign of dropping expensive munitions on low value targets to questionable effect.

Our "leaders" get their opportunity to swan around looking important on the world stage, which to them constitutes an exercise of influence, but in actuality is a self-deception far exceeding that of any Brexiteer. If anyone is caught up in the delusion that Britain is a power to speak of it is our pro-remain establishment.

Meanwhile, as the great and the good lament the loss of British influence in Europe they might note that Britain is already irrelevant not least because the migrant crisis does not affect us quite so acutely, and as a non-Euro member, the economic woes placing Germany in the spotlight are even less to do with the UK. And thank heavens for that. Problems to which Germany is welcome.

It's tempting to get carried away with the notion that it's just the UK disintegrating as Europe powers ahead, but that is a dangerous delusion. One might best describe Mrs Merkel's long reign as equivalent to our Blair era. Germany is a bit behind the UK and has yet to expose its own dysfunction to the world. Sooner or later Merkel will be gone, and Germany will have similar problems finding an adequate statesman to fill the void. Germany will have to undergo some soul searching of its own.

We are told that EU membership amplifies UK influence in the world - and that somehow leaving means giving up on "diplomatic engagement, value-exporting and the exercise of cultural power". What that means in practice is gathering of Europe's out of touch political elites congregating to commit us to ever ruinous vanity projects and ill-conceived bombing campaigns.

In so doing the values they "export" are not British values, rather they are the values of soft left social democratic consensus, marinated in political correctness. They are ever happy to regurgitate the platitudes of the globalist NGOcracy. Where this does not manifest in bombs raining from the sky, we see a murderous trade and aid policy leading to thousands drowning in the Mediterranean.

All the while the EU presents an attractive career path for the bland, compliant functionaries of the establishment. It offers a particularly attractive combination of a good salary in an expanding sector, frequent foreign travel and high status among the do-gooding circles. It infests our universities producing a class of unthinking conformists who cannot conceive a society that isn't managed top-down to the last detail by the state - as a petridish for their social manipulation. 

This is not without consequence. This has given rise to a political deadlock in which we are able to arrest the decline as all the democratic tools have been removed. Even as we leave the EU it will do everything in its power to prevent the UK becoming more competitive.  

It is not a given that Brexit will remedy any of this, but at the very least it is a decapitation strategy ensuring that UK political elites are excluded from the globalist jamborees and that our universities are no longer the mouthpiece of Brussels. Moreover it forces Britain to engage diplomatically, forces trade and foreign policy debates in the public domain, and stops us using the EU as a proxy for influence.

As British politics slides further into unprecedented dysfunction we will see a steady drip of nostalgic articles pining for the days when stage managed politics propped up the illusion of influence. Remainers will clamour to be back in the cosy state of denial, oblivious to the decline the EU is unable to even acknowledge. It seems to me that if anyone is harking back to glory days of yore, it is the establishment. 

I am under no illusions about Brexit. It is no panacea, it is no miracle revival of or fortunes. It will come at a considerable economic cost and the price we pay will be higher that it ever needed to be thanks to the ineptitude of our government. But its main useful purpose is the shatter the delusions of the entire political class, including the Brexiteers. 

Some would have it that it makes us down and out on a permanent basis. That remains to be seen. What we can say, however, is that decline is the direction of travel while our rulers inhabit a parallel universe. Brexit is at least the opportunity to address these questions. It is down to us not to squander it.

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