There’s a problem with the Brexit debate in the UK. First: it is unbalanced, as KAL opines in an editorial cartoon in The Economist, one side is trying to explain while the other is trying to emote …
… there are a handful of “out” campaigners trying to make an economic case, but, mostly it is an appeal to emotion. While I have some sympathy with some of the emotion appeals of the “leave” side I share eminent historian misrepresenting history and wishing for a Britain that never, really, existed ~ not even at the height of “splendid isolation.”Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford’s view that they are, broadly,
Second: the wrong people are doing the debating. The European leaders need to join in with real, measurable offers of change rather than critiques.
It’s no secret that I think Brexit would be a mistake for the UK and for Europe and, I believe, it would encourage opportunistic Russian adventurism with, potentially, dire consequences for everyone. A Brexit will create a security “gap” and Vladimir Putin is just the sort of fellow who enjoys exploiting such gaps. Russia is not really strong … but it is strong enough when we are weak.
I have said before that Brexit or not, the EU is in need of major structural reforms. A “United Staes of Europe” is possible but I suspect it will never contain Britain or several others; in fact my guess is that if, Big IF, the Europeans are smart there will be a couple of “federated (united) states” (at least one based on Germany and another on France, Spain and Italy) and several “independent” states all gathered into a large, fairly loose Free Trade Area.
The problem of “false memories” or national myths is common.
Many Americans are quite certain that they have a special providence …
… but that’s a myth. Canadians continue to, inexplicably, believe in a whole host of really quite silly myths:
- Canadians invented peacekeeping;
- Pierre Trudeau was some kind of “philosopher king;”
- Brian Mulroney was a conservative; and
- “Sunny Ways.”
The myths, even the “special providence’ myths are not really dangerous unless or until they provoke unsafe actions which, in my opinion, in 2016, is what a Brexit would be.
Russia is not going to attack Britain but it is, in my quesstimation, going to at least try to:
- Push around the newer, Eastern European NATO members;
- Push around the Ukraine; and
- Promote anti-British and anti-german feelings in North Africa, and in the Near and Middle East.
Russia going to feel emboldened to try those things because a Brexit will push both Britain and the EU into financial turmoil and make both reluctant to maintain or improve their (generally less than adequate) militaries.
Angela Merkel needs to be a real leader her and tell the British that she will push/pull the EU, kicking and screaming, into a new, more acceptable direction if they will agree to stay and help … thinly veiled threats like those from French President François Hollande about “principles” of unity are working for the “leave” side because they represent what many (most?) Brits dislike about the EU. What he (and others) must understand that Britain may be only the first to leave. This Brexit referendum is an opportunity for Europe … if a real leader will seize it … or it may be the beginning of the end of what Monnet and Spaak and Schuman envisioned back in the ruins of the 1940s. Brexit is too important to be left to the Brits.