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Theresa May's flawed strategy

By       Message Jean-Luc Basle       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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This strategy will not work. Salvation will not come from the United States or the affirmation that Britain is a global nation but from the recognition of the country's problems.

The relationship is "special" only from a British point of view. From an American point of view, it is special in the sense that British subservience serves America's interests, going all the way back to August 14 th , 1941 when Roosevelt and Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter. The self-determination principle included in the Charter foreshadows the dismemberment of the British Empire. Churchill sold off India to preserve Britain's independence.

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In her speech, Theresa May speaks in glowing terms of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of United Nations and concludes that Britain and the United States "have a responsibility to lead" the world. True, the United Kingdom and the United States led the way in implementing the democratic ideals which govern our Western world. But, this does not give them a right, much less an "obligation" to lead the world today.

Listening to her, one wonders whether she realizes how much the world has changed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it did look as though the world had become unipolar for a time. But, those days are gone. Russia, China, India and even the European Union do not wish to live under an American dictate, let alone a British one. Her view on radical Islamism echoes the neocon narrative which contradicts reality. The United States invaded Iraq on a fallacious pretext. France and Germany refused to join George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing".

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She repeatedly uses the word "sovereignty". It's meaningless. For its defense, Britain depends on the United States through NATO. The use of its nuclear armament is constrained by an American veto. The Royal Air Force is equipped with Lockheed Martin F-35 strike aircrafts. For its economy, Britain depends on the European Union for about half its trade. Brexit may have restored Britain's "parliamentary sovereignty" but that sovereignty is illusory.

In brief, to overcome Brexit's fallouts, Theresa May is advocating a world under Anglo-Saxon leadership, and promoting Britain as a global trading nation. Her strategy collides with Donald Trump's America First policy. The president wishes to bring down the Pax America architecture which he finds costly in view of the benefits the United States derives from it. He favors a mercantile approach to trade and sees Russia as a partner whose natural resources should be profitably exploited by American corporations. He has no grand plan to lead the world. "Global" is a word absent from his lexicon.

Theresa May must take the full measure of the June 23 rd Brexit victory. She acknowledges that "those who have too often felt left behind the forces of globalisation" are rebelling, but she offers nothing to overturn their lot. In her January 17 th speech , she accedes to their immigrant regulation demands. Nothing more. This is insufficient. Britain's salvation will not come from a UK/US Free Trade Agreement as she is telling her Republican audience, but first and foremost from a recognition of the grievances of those left out of the globalizing process. Free Trade agreements, especially one with the European Union, are part of the solution but only after the grievances have been properly dealt with. This is the proper strategy.

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Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University -- Business School Princeton University -- Woodrow Wilson School

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