Since the second world war, British foreign policy has been built on its so-called special relationship with the United States, which emerged from that conflict as the world’s most powerful nation. This week, London showed it was attempting to build another special relationship, with China, the world’s fast-rising power that is on its way to challenge US dominance in global affairs….
Britain is known for its pragmatic diplomacy. For instance, it was not only the first Western nation to recognize the new communist republic in 1949, but did so even before the Soviet Union for fear of a possible communist military takeover of Hong Kong. British foreign policy is best summed up by the words of 19th-century prime minister Lord Palmerston: “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.
I love the words “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.” It takes a pragmatist’s mind to come to that realization. We have been in war after war in my lifetime and usually withing a score of years our enemies become our friends. The big one for my generation was Vietnam. We lost over 50,000 boys in that war. Now Vietnam is one of the premiere travel destinations for many in this country.
While Great Britain (I don’t know if they call themselves “Great” anymore) was the world power they, like we do now, made many blunders but they always seemed to land on their feet so to speak. Because they have a parliamentary form of government they are used to forming coalitions to accomplish things. Their diplomacy follows suit. They recognize what needs to be done to further their overall goals and then proceed to make that happen.
Too many of us in the U.S. get stuck in a mode of thinking that seems impossible to get out of. One of those things is socialism. Say that word to many here, including politicians, and all they can think of is the “evil empire” USSR. We came close a couple of times in destroying the earth over our differences so anything that they do must be wrong for us. Britain on the other hand embraces socialism as a pragmatic solution to many of society’s problems. Socialized medicine works well there and keeps the cost of healthcare much more managable that we have ever been able to attain.
Now Britain is using a pragmatic approach to China. They realize that China is becoming a prime economic power in the world. They don’t get stuck on the “communist” label as a reason for demonetization.
Pragmatism is one of those things that we need to import much more of if we hope to be relevant in tomorrow’s world. That and to finally come to the realization that we can no longer afford to be the policemen of the world before it breaks us under its load of debt.