In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

David Cameron: Piggy-in-the-middle

Posted by seumasach on January 20, 2013

Cailean Bochanan

20th January, 2013

Every cloud has a silver lining and the terrible events in Algeria at least enabled David Cameron to postpone his long-awaited speech on Europe. He must be hoping he could call it off altogether and that the leaking of its contents by dribs and drabs would steal some of its thunder and render its eventual delivery a relative non-event. But what has  got him into such a quandary? “Events, my dear boy! Events!”

The events in question began in Benghazi as the Arab Spring began to go wrong and they continued over the following months with a purge of the US military and culminating in the nomination of Chuck Hagel and John Kerry for Defence Secretary and Secretary of State respectively. A whiff of realism has since begun to drift across the Atlantic. Drone bomber Obama doesn’t have to be the angel Gabriel to grasp that Bachar-al -Assad isn’t going to be overthrown and to call off the CIA’s Al Qaeda attack dogs. And two or three years of media and financial war against the eurozone has failed to lead to its collapse: in fact, it has greatly accelerated its integration. Realism therefore dictates that a settlement be achieved in Syria, with Russia taking the central mediating role, and that the USA recognise Euroland as a fait accompli. The two immediate victims of Obama’s return to planet  earth are Francois Hollande, Qatar’s man in the Elysee, who has responded by reinventing himself in the unlikely guise of the “scourge of Al Qaeda” and the hapless figure of our own prime minister, David Cameron.

Britain has, or, at least, had two two options with regard to Europe: to move to embrace it fully or to spurn it in favour of the special relationship. It was this latter option which gave Cameron the confidence to walk out of discussions with European partners in disgust a year or so ago. With the perspective of global, Anglo-American hegemony who needs Europe? However, the juggernaut of such hegemonist dreams has stalled decisively in Syria in the face of determined Russian, Chinese and Iranian opposition as well as that of the Syrian people. The attack on Iran which has been on the cards for so long will not happen. Anglo-America will not and cannot dictate to the rest of the world and. hence, Chuck Hagel and the realists in Washington openly embrace multipolarity. Surely they would at least have had the decency to inform London? I think they tried to- hinting gently to begin with: but the hint was not taken and now Cameron has been unceremoniously instructed to “get his ass into Europe”. And so it was that Cameron was left with the special relationship in shreds and a speech to rewrite (which he would also have preferred to shred).

So we await the great speech in which the remote prospect of a future referendum on unspecified reforms to be extracted from our European partners through unspecified threats will be set before the British people. Let’s hope its a work of art, epitomising the mudge and fudge we excel in and  revealing that skill honed over generations on the playing fields of Eton: kicking the ball into the long grass. I can’t wait and my sides are already splitting with laughter in anticipation.

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