Written By: - Date published: 7:35 pm, February 8th, 2015 - 73 comments
Categories: China, colonialism, Deep stuff, Europe, history, International, iraq, john key, military, same old national, uk politics, us politics, war - Tags:
There’s a fascinating article in the latest New Statesman titled “An Empire that speaks English: the right’s dream of a new world order.” Suddenly UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond’s recent visit here makes sense. So does John Key’s references to sending Kiwi troops to Iraq on behalf of the “club” or the “family.”
The full version will no doubt be available shortly on the NS website; some excerpts from the article are here:
The idea of the “Anglosphere” – and the policies and strategies pursued by some of the political leaders of its constituent countries – has become a source of increasing, almost magnetic influence on British conservatives.
The concept of the Anglosphere – which they define as centred around the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US – depends on the long-held belief that Britain’s best interests lie in forging closer relationships with those countries that share a language and have broadly similar cultures and political structures, and gives Britain the opportunity to operate as a “global economy”.
Tracing the history of the idea back to the Second World War, the authors write that an assortment of political forces makes this seem attractive to many on the right:
The appeal of this idea is not just a reflection of growing disillusionment with Europe. For many, the rise of China, the increasing threat of radical Islam and the uncertainties of the global economy all make the question of locating political allies and sympathetic states much more imperative for the UK. The future of the west, some argue, may be contingent upon a closer coalescence of the Anglosphere countries.
Quite why they would trace the idea back to the Second World War might be a mystery. I’ve just spent some time researching the story of my uncle shot down and killed with 27 others in Malaya in 1942 in a suicidal mission flying obsolete biplanes against Zeros. The story of the fall of Singapore is of one long British bungle, of arrogant over-confidence mixed with under-supply – their officers thought ” the Japanese could not fly airplanes because their sight was poor.’ Churchill abandoned the southern Dominions in favour of Russia and the Egypt, and at least the the Australians still haven’t forgotten.
The idea of the Anglosphere is not really about us – it’s about Britain and the US operating as “a global economy.” Think TPP and TTIP.
But New Zealand and in particular John Key do have a key role to play in the strategy. Key has just been elected Chairman of the International Democratic Union, the right-wing political union founded by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s. He takes over from John Howard, former Australian Prime Minister. Former British Foreign Secretary and Tory ideologue William Hague, and billionaire turned pollster and pundit Lord Ashcroft, are big players in the IDU. His job is to provide the political glue.
It’s the IDU club and the IDU family Key is talking about when he argues he wants to send New Zealand troops back into a futile war zone.
The New Statesman authors conclude that the Anglosphere is not a political concept the left should ignore:
The Anglosphere is far from being just a quirky, nostalgic idea. It is at the heart of a re-emerging political world-view. Understanding its power, reach and history is imperative for a centre left that needs a more clearly defined strategic ambition and sense of political direction if it is to do more than survive buffeting by the storms.
I couldn’t agree more.