When JFK took the helm at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue he had in his mind a distinct governing habitus of the late great Harold Macmillan. Kennedy’s subtle yet archaic turn is typical of the education given to genteel Americans since our founding. Yet this is a betrayal on a magnitude fit for Sophocles. Macmillan was fond of using a historical analogy to brow beat the Americans: “the new Roman Empire and we Britons, like the Greeks of old, must teach them how to make it go.” So the question remains?
How goes the tutorial of Rome by Athens?
If history is any guide, Britain is falling prey to the very passive ideology that France succumbed to in meeting a militant Prussia or Germany in WWI. Scared to wage war, insufficient ideological valor to defend its own life, England is doomed from both within and outside as it fails to find the intellectual fortitude to govern itself.
Europe needs NATO’s munitions, intelligence, refueling and numerous other vital assets just to depose Khadafy, never mind maintenance of other commitments. All it could hope for was to create the mirage that in Libya, England, France and others would serve the humanitarian objective to economize violence. It can’t punch above its weight, nor can it muster the fortitude nor courage to win domestic battles, for coalitions are defeated on THAT very battleground.
Britain has a single aircraft carrier capable of launching fixed wing aircraft, just one! How else to say it: MASS matters in war, and Britain, France and Germany don’t have it. And as for that ‘special relationship’, it’s a rather pathetic British conceit, cannot sustain credible criticism.
Max Hastings remains the single most ardent critic for evaluating that relation. Hastings recently said: “If Britain wishes to play the traditional role abroad in pursuit of any important Western objective, to enjoy America’s confidence and share its secrets, we must own armed forces and intelligence assets capable of earning these things.”
As of this writing, Britain has for decades neglected to maintain nor seek that mass required to effect such status. That would mean repudiating the heritage of a feline libertarianism that has grounded London’s political economy for decades.
What is the solution?
Simple. Downing Street must reverse its strident policy of disarmament that it continues to pursue. To do that requires the work of a Statesman like Churchill: one who will go it alone and pursue policies that are unpopular yet inevitable.