Just who is George Robertson spending his time with?
When George Robertson says of the people he meets:
Universally and unanimously, people say they don’t want Britain to break up. Some will of course say it because they don’t want change and like the status quo. Others, the majority, see the break-up of Britain as being a profoundly destabilising move in a fragile and unstable world.
None of those people is paranoid. None of them is anti-Scottish. They are not opposed to self-determination. They just see Britain as being a major power in the world and indeed a powerful force for good. They see its fragmentation as unhelpful and damaging to Western solidarity.
One wonders with whom he has been speaking? He is clearly spending time with people who are still living under the delusion that the UK is some sort of global force, when in fact any dwindling claim of supremacy was extinguished in 1956 with the resolution to the Suez Crisis. While other countries that we once dominated, such as India and China, are on the rise, we are currently a country crippled by debt, riddled by inequality, contemptuous of its leaders and suffering a waning global influence. Since the 1950’s the only decisive unilateral action we have taken was to liberate a small Archipelago in the South Atlantic.
It seems that George is spending too much of his time hanging around with individuals who are unaware of this decline and who also fail to realise that we live in a world where this decline need not be a major issue. Empires are no longer forged at the barrel of 10000 guns, but can be created by one geeky student sitting in front of a laptop in a college dorm room. The problem for the UK is that it tries to be the country it once was, instead of moving on and becoming a new type of Global Power.
I would never try to argue that the United Kingdom has been a solely malign influence in the world. However, for George not to question his friends’ assertions that it is a force for good highlights that his judgment is questionable. Here is a list of a few modern examples which show the UK trying to hold onto its historical clout in morally dubious ways.
In the early 1950’s, MI6 with the help of the CIA initiated a plot to replace the democratically elected Iranian leader Mohammad Mosaddegh, because he was threatening our oil supply. This act was to sow the seeds of the Iranian Revolution, the consequences of which have been devastating for political and social freedom in the region as well as fostering a state of distrust between the Middle East and the West that continues to this day. Do the people who have been talking to George think that this act was a force for good in the world?
The United Kingdom has recently granted £12.3bn of export licensing for military and intelligence equipment to countries that are on our own list of oppressive regimes. Do George’s Friends think selling arms to Sudan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Nigeria is a force for good in this world?
Recently, we dropped depleted uranium and white phosphorous on innocent civilians in Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of them on the back of a lie in order to disarm them of the chemical weapons that they had never had in the first place. If they did have them, we would have known, as it is likely that we ourselves would have been the ones to provide them. This act has undoubtedly radicalised people against us, and it’s hard to see how the people that George has spoken to can think it was in the interests of world peace.
During the War on Terror we aided America in the transportation of untried combatants into countries in which they could be tortured. We let our allies use UK Airspace to brutally pervert the course of justice, while making no effort to stop the process even when the people being transported were our own citizens. It is hard to see how this is a force for good in the world. On the 18-12-13 the inquiry into this was stopped short for legal reasons and has never been started again, just before the people who were affected were due to give evidence.
In the last few years it has came to light that we have been intercepting the personal data of half the globe by secretly infiltrating communications and sifting through them. The long fought for legal principle of the presumption of innocence has now been replaced by the assertion that everyone in the world is a potential terrorist until proven innocent. One could argue that this has prevented terrorist attacks. However, given that substantially more UK citizens drown in the bath each year than are killed by terrorists, you wonder who conducted the cost risk analysis on these measures. It is certainly hard to see how treating the citizens of the world like criminals is aiding the international community.
You could go on for days listing the times we have acted in ways that are clearly not for the good of the planet. One could just as easily list many instances where the UK has failed to get involved in situations where a force for good would have the moral impetus to act, like the turning a blind eye to Rwandan Genocides, non interventionism with regards to the crimes against humanity committed by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and silence on human rights abuses with trading partners like Saudi Arabia; a country that is a cash machine for terrorism.
Scottish Independence could genuinely be a force for good in the world for a few reasons. First it will weaken the UK, which could embolden the remainder of it to realise it is no longer the superpower it once was, initiating a re-engagement with the international community that is more about creative power than military might. It will send a positive message to the world that a country which has harboured nuclear weapons since 1968 is desperate to get rid of them, showing that we no longer want to conduct our international relationships with the threat of Armageddon looming in the background. And lastly, it demonstrates that revolution is possible without violence. About the most radical event in this fight for independence was the placing of stickers on the windows of a politician’s office.
If people the world over who are plotting violence to achieve their goals look to Scotland, they will see a country on the brink of a bloodless revolution, determined to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and looking to negotiate new consensus based relationships with our international partners. How could this not be a force for good? I am still left wondering who George Robertson has been talking to and who his friends actually are.
Please comment below and enter an email address to receive notifications of new articles. Also, if you enjoy our content you can find out how you can help support the site by clicking here.