30 august 2013, shrink to fit ?

Crispin blunt was unusually erudite in his commentary after the british prime minister's defeat in the house of commons, ending the prospect at this time of the uk joining any military action against assad's syria. His point was that it was high time london lost its imperial hangover of thinking it was a country of a size that deserved to have a hand on the world's tiller. We should stop, he said, pretensions of "punching above our weight" and act in a way that is sustainable for a country of our means. It has been a while since such (to use the derogatory term) little englander views had any traction, anathema as they are both to the internationalist left that seeks concerted global action and the patriotic right that likes britain standing tall in the world and pretends a seat on the un security council is more than just an accident of history. Both wings though reject the obvious consequence of the retreat from power that the vote is a significant crystallisation of: europe. Though the last decade of construction has been economic, the 3rd pillar of the union created in 1992 was foreign and defence policy. Although progress has been slow, it has not been absent. Though the eu's new foreign minister and ministry have been low-profile, they have been clearly established and not without the odd success. The foundation is laid for a serious figure to take over when the time is right. More than that, this is the last big area run on inter-governmental, as opposed to community, lines, and so has seen development throughout the period, just as member state control may be coming back into vogue in other areas too. For britain, american power and diplomacy will for a long time yet be the wing under which we're most comfortable sheltering, and happily the last years have seen strong european movement to manage its growth within that broader nato structure. However, in the long-term, the only platform where real integration, cost reduction and sustained projection of british power can ever take place, is in a european setting. When you think about it, there are relatively obvious answers to the utterly unaffordable replacement generation of unilateral nuclear deterents that both britain and france are separately grappling with, and to untying the un security council knot that makes it deeply unrepresentative of today's world and so unable to act as the real forum in which war and peace is decided within an agreed global framework.