Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount of Palmerston, March 1, 1848:
Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.
This article originally appeared at Pravda, translated from Russian by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront
So, what forces are determining the current international situation: US, EU, Russia? Or is there something else that’s being thoroughly overlooked? According to the official version adopted by the whole world, the British Empire fell apart after World War 2, and its former members entered an organization that has a purely ceremonial character and which is a relic of a bygone era.
But, of course, it is not so. It makes sense to have a closer look at the “nonexistent empire.” The British Commonwealth was created purposefully at a time when many major powers (US, Germany, and others) have declined. For the UK, the situation was not as critical, but the global changes could not fail to concern it, and it decided to insure itself. Therefore after the Imperial territories conferences of 1926 and 1930, the Westminster Statute of 1931 was adopted which ensured the British authorities’ legal power over the dominions and colonies under the conditions of a new political, economic, and informational situation, giving the start to the Commonwealth.
Although the Law on Nationality from 1948 cancelled the general provisions concerning subordination within the Commonwealth, nevertheless, many former dominions and colonies acknowledge the British monarch to be the head of their state, with all the associated consequences: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Papua-New Guinea, St. Vincent and Grenadines, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Jamaica.
For all these years, all the way until the present, the Commonwealth was perceived as simply a tribute to the past–a ceremonial organization without any real attributes (political, military, or economic). The UK itself through mass media and with the passive support of other Commonwealth members managed to preserve that myth over many decades.
At first, the empire’s existence was eclipsed by the superpower competition between US and USSR, then the EU, and the attempts by the US to establish its hegemony. And nobody would have imagined that it’s not the UK–modest and humble–that’s following the US, its mighty partner, but rather the other way around–it’s the US that’s continuing the good old policies of the old empire while formally not being its member and taking all the heat for its actions.
Nobody has ever realized that the Commonwealth is effectively ensuring the cooperation of the most diverse countries scattered over several continents. The best indicator is the continuing growth in the number of Commonwealth members. It is attracting all the countries once belonging to the empire. Even Cameroon managed to join the organization in 1995, even though only a small part of the country was under the empire.
At the same time, as an “exception that proves the rule”, Mozambique was allowed to join even though it was never part of the British Empire. But the funniest of all is the fact that Israel applied to join in 2006. Which, incidentally, is wholly logical and not even remarkable: the British Crown has always maintained closest possible ties with financial and trade capital. It is that fusion that made the growth of the British Empire possible.
Australia, Antigue and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, UK, Guyana, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Zambia, West Samoe, India, Cameroon, Canada, Kenya, Cyprus, Kiribati, Lesotho, Mauritius, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua-New Guinea, Swaziland, Seychelle Islands, St. Vincent and Grenadines, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Fiji, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Jamaica–that’s the full list of British Commonwealth countries.
It’s characteristic that the BC operates without a constitution. UK itself has no constitution, even though officially it’s a constitutional monarchy. In general, one can use the EU example to demonstrate that the UK in general is hostile to the very idea of constitution, which it considers a serious obstacle to its freedom of action.
Traditionally, the supreme law role was fulfilled by other legal documents. When it comes to the BC, it is based on two documents: the 1971 Declaration of Principles and the 1991 Harare Declaration. They proclaim the head of the BC to be the British monarch. The highest political organization of the BC is a meeting of the heads of governments which assembles once every two years. The executive branch of the BC is the Secretariat, located in London (where else?).
The Secretariat coordinates the activity of more than 70 specialized organizations and a network of foundations, associations, clubs, institutions, agencies, etc. cooperating in nearly all realms of human activity. The BC also has a status of an observer in the UN, through its Secretariat.
The BC military component is a curious one. NATO is an attempt to reconcile European military interests with the BC interests. In other words, to have European countries act on BC priorities. In the event the system falters, the BC has its own pacts and treaties: the Cooperation Pact, the Five-Party Agreement on Defense (Australia, UK, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), the East Caribbean Regional Security system, the ANZUS (US, Australia, New Zealand), and others.
The well-oiled system of military relations encompasses the whole world. There is no place on the planet where Great Britain is not being represented in the military sense. Therefore Russia should not be surprised when its old allies suddenly decline to buy its weapons ostensibly because of their flaws. It’s not like that. The imperial policy is thought through to the last detail, who can do what and in what numbers. The Empire is seeking balance, and where it can’t reach it it uses it at the expense of others. Except the world doesn’t see it.
The BC policy, which is a product of centuries, allows to ensure coordination among very different countries and develop a common position on chief international issues. Any deviation is punished swiftly and severely. The guilty party is simply excluded from the BC. This measure was used against Pakistan in 2007, after it dared to contradict the US by electing Pervez Musharraf as president (after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto). Incidentally, Pakistan recovered its membership, and dumped Musharraf.
At the current stage of international relations the BC (plus the US) is not only a counterweight to Russia but also the EU. The start of that confrontation is marked by Churchill’s speech at Fulton College on 5 March 1946. Churchill himself considered this speech the most important in his career.
A week later Stalin compared Churchill to Hitler, saying: “One should note that Mr. Churchill and his friends are strikingly similar in this respect to Hitler and his friends. Hitler started on his path to war by proclaiming a racial theory stating that only people who speak German are a genuine nation. Mr. Churchill begins his path to war also with a racial theory, claiming that only nations that speak English are called upon to decide the fate of the whole world… The English race theory has led Mr. Churchill and his friends to the conclusion that English-speaking nations deserve to rule over all other nations of the world.”
The power of the Soviet Union demonstrated during WW2 and after, has forced the ‘invisible empire’ to conceal itself and place the US into the foreground as the most powerful representative of the Anglo-Saxon race, which moreover is not a formal member of the BC. Therefore the last decades have seen the formation of the illusion of British submission to the US. “Needle, meet thread.”
But now things are moving in the opposite direction. Having strengthened itself and after destroying the European continent’s unity, the UK is slowly beginning to sacrifice its faithful vassal, the US. Financial shocks which are becoming more frequent in the US are a clear demonstration of that. The US has become too odious a figure. They couldn’t manage to become a hegemon, and the whole world hates them. The situation is getting out of control. It means that a new world order will have to be built. It means that someone else will have to enter the orbit–maybe the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth still lives its own life, establishing its own version of the world. Even the Olympics are duplicated by analogous Commonwealth games which are held every four years. In March 2006 the Commonwealth Games were held in Melbourne, Australia, and the opening featured Queen Elizabeth II and the now-former PM John Howard. In 2010 the sportsmen from the “invisible empire” competed in New Delhi.
The British Empire does not wish its positions undermined ahead of time which is why it’s forced to conceal its existence. Well, that’s the correct policy to adopt. It would be too easy to rock that multi-colored world to pieces if one were to try.
H/t reader kevin a:
“I’ve said it all along.
Lurking perpetually in the background to tweak world events.”
* * *