June 7, 2015


Assessing the Future of the US-UK Special Relationship (Ted Bromund, 6/07/15, Daily Signal)

For most of the era between 1776 and 1941, the U.S. was, for historical reasons that had increasingly little to do with reality, the standoffish partner in the Anglo-American relationship. There was, of course, anti-Americanism in the U.K., more often on the right than the left, but American Anglophobia was far more powerful. Nor did it disappear in 1941.

When the American people were surveyed in 1944, of the one-third who were dissatisfied with the extent of cooperation among the Big Three, 54 percent blamed the U.K. while only 18 percent blamed the USSR. Not until the late 1950s did Anglophobia cease to be a major factor in U.S. political life.

Today, when the U.K. stands second only behind Canada as the foreign nation that Americans like best, this is a difficult fact to remember, which is why it is tempting to treat this second condition as of strictly historical interest. But it is not yet a matter for history, because it indicates that something important has changed.

Since 1776, the fate of the Anglo-American relationship has usually rested in the hands of the United States, because it was U.S. sentiments that established the limits of the possible.

But now, precisely because U.S. views of the U.K. are reliably positive, the fate of that relationship rests--for the first time ever--fundamentally in the hands of the U.K. There are no votes to be won in the U.S. by criticizing the U.K. There are, however, votes to be won in the U.K. by criticizing the U.S. Of course, public opinion can be strongly negative (or positive) and yet not be salient: The beliefs are felt, but not felt often enough to matter. But just as it formerly did in the U.S., public opinion in Britain now determines the limits of the possible for the special relationship.

But the British public also limits what is possible where the EU is concerned. A 2014 YouGov poll found that only 17 percent of the British public identified itself as strongly European. The level of European identification in France was twice as high, even though half the French public wants to leave the EU.

British dissatisfaction is not limited to Europe: A 2008 poll found that British views of many Western or Western-allied foreign nations--India, Japan, and Germany--were strongly negative or barely positive. The only significant exceptions were Australia, Sweden, and Ireland. This poll found that the U.S. was about as popular in the U.K. as Germany, which, given both the Blitz and various World Cups, is remarkable.

When they withdraw from the EU they should simply seek admission to NAFTA.  Expansion to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia/New Zealand and Scandinavia is natural.  Much of the historical tension is drained because we're no longer on the hook to fight each others wars.  Free trade and free movement of peoples is an easy sell.

Posted by at June 7, 2015 8:50 AM

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