It was heartening to read Mr. Arunabha Bagchi’s article, ‘Mr. Cameron’s Blunder’, in The Statesman of July 4, 2014.
Mr. Bagchi is a former Dean of a Netherlands university and obviously a serious analyst of European affairs. I was encouraged by his article which vindicated my prognosis of EU which I had proffered decades ago even though I am more or less an ignoramus about affairs European. My views arose from simple common sense and my understanding of politics. I have long held that the bane of political instability worldwide is due to the preponderant influence exerted by big business corporate firms which ignores the political impulse of societies in the pursuit of quick and enhanced profits. Reading between the lines of Mr. Bagchi’s article one could conclude that Britain’s woes and Mr. Cameron’s errors of policy arose from British failure to empathize with the countries of Western Europe. That is why Britain is failing as an EU member nation. I go beyond Mr. Bagchi’s observation. Not only is Britain failing but the European Union itself is failing for basically the same reason.
Mr. Bagchi writes:
“The North European Protestant countries also feel uncomfortable with the budget profligacy advocated by the South European countries and tacitly support the British position.”
Mr. Bagchi fails to specify and highlight that the South European countries are overwhelmingly Catholic. And Britain is an Anglican nation. That makes it part of the Protestants. That reflects the real problem which businessmen and economists refuse to recognize or address. Only Charles De Gaulle as a political statesman recognized it.
De Gaulle was the statesman who gave political teeth to the concept of EU. The original 15 nations that initiated the move were Catholic, had a shared history, and potentially a common political identity. De Gaulle understood this and repeatedly blocked British entry because it was Anglican – though he never specified this – and was close to America with which it enjoyed a special relationship and common language. Decades ago I wrote why Britain had historically blundered by joining EU and failing to exploit the political and economic potential of the Commonwealth. In the very early 1990s I wrote an article entitled “Britain’s Commonwealth Card” for The Hindustan Times advancing my arguments. I repeated some of those arguments in an article published in this website on 21 June, 2010. My basic arguments as advanced in my article were as follows.
“The need for economic revival after the war (World War Two) made corporate finance more than ever powerful… It impelled wrong foreign policy choices in Whitehall. Post World-War II Britain held three cards in its hands. There was the special Anglo-American relationship, the emerging European Community, and the Commonwealth. Britain’s special relationship with America and the Commonwealth were not only compatible but complementary. Britain’s entry into the EU was incompatible with both.… Britain was Anglican, Europe was Catholic. Religion may not denote religiosity among people. It does define identity... Otherwise how might one explain Catholic Ireland despite sharing language and literature with England remaining neutral during Second World War even when Britain was mercilessly bombed? … In Europe Britain will always remain a second class power. The concept of EU itself has been ruined by corporate finance. In search of expanding markets big business mindlessly enlarged the membership of EU far beyond the first 15 nations that originally founded it. ”
The opportunity to create a full fledged South Asian Union presents itself. India should take a leaf from the experience of EU. Neither America nor China deserves observer status in SAARC meetings if there is a desire for it to evolve as a South Asian Union. The economic prowess displayed by China or America is irrelevant. India should forget the arithmetic of economics and focus on the identity of culture. If SAARC is to become a future South Asian Union only its member states having a common culture and shared history should have any say. Any outside nation muscling into SAARC whether as member or observer would ruin its prospects as surely as the mindless expansion of membership has ruined the EU’s development.