Friday, 30 May 2008

Johnathon Fryer on Europe and US

In the midst of all our trials and tribualtions in Sefton it is important not to forget that the world continues and important matters are being discussed. I noticed this from Johnathon Fryer a Liberal of my generation and a candidate for the Euro parliament in London. Amongst many other things Johnathon is an active Quaker. I well recall the bewiderment of hearing his voice in my bedroom one morning. It took me a while to work out it came from the radio and he was doing 'Thought for the Day'. Anyway i thought this was worth reproducing today:



The Republican US presidential candidate John McCain has been promoting the idea of a new grouping of democratic nations of the world, which would include not only North America and most of Europe, but also India and Japan. His hope is that this grouping could take collective action in world affairs in the interest of common causes. Though superficially attractive, this idea strikes me as singularly dangerous. For one thing, the United Nations and multilateralism need to be strengthened, not weakened, at this particular juncture. Even more important, such a move would intensify the climate of ‘us and them’ which George W Bush has so disastrously engendered.
I find it especially disconcerting that some of Barack Obama’s advisers are tempted by McCain’s concept, though Obama himself has not committed himself to it. Instead, in a video link to a fundraising event at Elizabeth Murdoch’s home in London’s Notting Hill Gate last weekend, he talked of the need to ‘recalibrate’ US-British relations, to put them on a more equal footing. Again, at first glance, this might seem an attractive proposition, but actually it is nonsense. The United States is still the world’s leading power (though maybe for not all that much longer), whereas Britain is at best a middle-hitter. Certainly, it would be good to move away from the poodle-like relationship of Tony Blair vis-a-vis President Bush. But does anyone seriously believe that Washington would listen to London — whoever was in power in the White House – if US interests seemed to be at stake?
The missing element here is the European Union, of course. The US and the EU could certainly enjoy a partnership of equals. In fact, if only the EU would get its act together, with Britain at the centre, rather than sniping from the sidelines, the whole dynamics of global politics would change — usually for the better, I believe. So however attractive the ideas of McCain’s League of Democracies and Obama’s new partnership between the US and the UK might seem, what we should be striving for is a new relationship between a more united Europe and the US, as two big hitters on the world stage.