Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 2 April 2007

British Subjects or European Citizens?

Where have all the Britishers gone? With respect to the plight of 15 British subjects in Iran, Timothy Garton Ash earnestly asks where is the European solidarity over the hostage-taking of innocent "EU citizens"? Mark Steyn answered as only Mark Steyn could:

A few days ago, the European Union was celebrating its 50th birthday with the usual lame-o Euro-boosterism. I said up above that the 15 hostages are "British subjects." But, as a point of law, they are also "citizens of the European Union." Even Oxford and Hoover's Timothy Garton Ash, one of the most indefatigable of those Euro-boosters, seemed to recognize the Iranian action was a challenge to Europe's pretensions. "Fifteen Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards," he wrote. "Those 14 European men and one European woman have been held at an undisclosed location for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access, but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making a staged 'confession,' clearly under duress. So if Europe is as it claims to be, what's it going to do about it?''

Short answer: Nothing.

Slightly longer answer: The 15 "European" hostages aren't making that much news in "Europe." And, insofar as they have, other "Europeans" -- i.e., Belgians, Germans and whatnot -- don't look on the 15 hostages as "Europeans" but as Brits. Europe has more economic leverage on Iran than America has. The European Union is the Islamic Republic's biggest trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of Iranian exports. They are in a position to inflict serious pain on Tehran. But not for 15 British servicemen. There may be "European citizens," but there is no European polity.

OK, well, how about the United Nations? Those student demonstrators want the execution of "British aggressors." In fact, they're U.N. aggressors. HMS Cornwall is the base for multinational marine security patrols in the Gulf: a mission authorized by the United Nations. So what's the U.N. doing about this affront to its authority and (in the public humiliation of the captives) of the Geneva Conventions?

Short answer: Nothing.

Slightly longer answer: The British ambassador to the U.N. had wanted the Security Council to pass a resolution ''deploring'' Iran's conduct. But the Russians objected to all this hotheaded inflammatory lingo about ''deploring,'' and so the Security Council instead expressed its ''grave concern'' about the situation. That and $4.95 will get you a decaf latte. Ask the folks in Darfur what they've got to show for years of the U.N.'s "grave concerns" -- heavy on the graves, less so on the concern.


Right from Hamilton said...

This is shameful. Just goes to show the UK can't trust the EU.

Dundonald said...

It has more than a little to do with the fact that 40% of Iran's imports come from the EU, underpinned by export credit guarantees from Germany, France and Italy. Thus, 'European Solidarity' can only go so far.

So much for the EU's doctrine of 'soft power'.

Beaverbrook said...

I'm amused at his crack over that bit of lamo diplomacy at the UN: "We are "gravely concerned", which typically results in heavy on the graves, less so on the concern. But it's no joke: People all too often are getting brutally murdered while the diplomats at the UN look for the useless right niceties. As they will in this case. At the end of the day, Britain is left to its own devices, and can count on squat from the UN or the EU.

Anonymous said...

Garton Ash was a fellow of my college at Oxford. Tony Blair came to make a speech on the EU while I was there, and Garton Ash chaired it, and to see and hear him fawning and crawling over the PM was one of the most revolting sights imaginable. I have a vague recollection that he heads a pseudo-department called European Studies, so the man's job depends on this nonsense. Also, he has a beard. Ignore him.

The point is that "Europe" isn't "as it claims to be". Neither is the UN. Neither is the Anglo-American relationship. The only thing which is what it claims to be is the Commonwealth, because it doesn't claim to be anything. It's remarkable how culture-blind internationalism seems to mean in practice that we are all horribly alone, when it was meant to kill of "Little Englandism". We had more meaningful relationships with other polities back in the "bad old days" before we felt obliged to subordinate our foreign relations to the platitudes World Citizen Jet Set.


Anonymous said...

Even more reason for Britain to leave the E.U. I'm sure the same countries that are wanting nothing to do with the BRITISH hostages would be the first to want Britain's help if something similar happened to their citizens, most likely using words such as: "European solidarity" to try and get their way. And as for the United Nations the sooner that waste of money and time is scrapped the better! Wasn't that relic basically made obsolete once and for all when it was unable to achieve one of its main mandates: i.e. prevent war!

Beaverbrook said...

That's a very cogent thing to say, Cato: The Commonwealth is the only thing which is what it claims to be, precisely because it doesn't claim to be anything. Bravo.

Scott said...

It makes no big claims. It doesn't do anything big.

That's fair.

A terrible shame, though.

I can see Garton Ash's college from bedroom window (its chapel spire, at least). He always struck be as a bit of a cunt.

Scott said...

Incidentally, one might make similar remarks about the idea of British subjects VS English subjects. Britain and Britishness was, too, like the EU and European Citizenship, a legalistic, politically-created identity, wholly foreign to tradition, and the will and disposition of the people.

Beaverbrook said...

Europe is a totally different kettle of fish. At least the Brits speak the same language

Scott said...

Different but not totally. Language, monarchy and land-mass are the chief differences, and obviously important ones; but I do wonder if calling Shakespeare a British writer, or Thomas More a British saint, will seem any less ridiculous in time. (As I'm sure it seemed ridiculous at first).

Beaverbrook said...

It still does sound ridiculous,and will aways be. Shakespeare will never be British. To see him as anyhing other than English is historical revisionism.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare was about as British as Dylan Thomas.


Scott said...

Ridiculous to us: not quite to university syllabi, where he appears as part of "British Literature" (though thankfully not where I studied).