A Night at the Opera …

… with apologies to the Marx Brothers

On the evening of 19 October, the FT’s rolling blog reported, the most senior politicians, diplomats and officials of the eurozone (EZ) and with Christine Lagarde (of the IMF) in train, gathered in Frankfurt. They had an appointment – a night at the opera with M Trichet ECB president (retiring) and Draghi ECB president (incoming). They also decided to go through a pretence of wrestling with deep policy issues on the future of the eurozone with M Sarkozy dramatically dashing from a Parisian maternity ward to get to Frankfurt on time.

With the passage of the past few weeks one has gone from initial disbelief to growing incredulity to the final realisation that actually, in both the EU and the US there is a now almost complete incapacity to formulate and implement anything approaching a coherent set of economic and financial policies capable of addressing the series of interrelated problems besetting both economies. In Europe there is on the official view first the Greek problem, second, the banking crisis and third, the finalisation of EFSF2 – the package agreed in outline (which is to say not agreed at all and no more than a fraudulent pretence) three months ago.  All three issues are inter-related but they are also three quite separate bits. In the US the EZ crisis also has real implications for American banking – and thus the prospective triggering of a global contagion.  To be fair to the Americans they have banged on at the Europeans (Obama and Geithner in particular) but to no avail whatsoever. Again though (Democrat) Washington also is paralysed: a Republican/Tea Party politics, deeply reactionary but entirely coherent holds the political balance. They are using it in effect to unpick those small remnants of the New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society (as well as their antecedents in nineteenth century progressivism) that have survived the last couple of decades. They also believe the wrong side lost the Civil War, the Federal Government is unconstitutional, the Federal Reserve is adulterating the dollar – and an awful lot else. They have a visceral hatred of banks (but hate Washington much more) – something they share with Occupy Wall Street. Read the rest of this entry »


Prehistory of ‘The Special Relationship’

The Prehistory of ‘The Special Relationship’ – An American on Britain and its subjugation of the world (1864)

by

Pat Walsh

Introductory Note

This essay was first published in the July 2011 edition of the political journal, Irish Foreign Affairs, a quarterly review published by the Irish Political Review Group in Dublin. Pat Walsh is also the author of the book The Rise and Fall of Imperial Ireland – Redmondism in the context of Britain’s conquest of South Africa and its Great War on Germany andIreland’s Great War on Turkey 1914 – 1924 both published by Athol Books, Belfast. It is republished here with the permission of Pat Walsh as it is an exploration of one stormy chapter of the theme behind the title of this blog – the Great Divergence – or the rise of Ameranglia.

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After the United States had survived its civil war the Reverend Charles Brandon Boynton gave a Thanksgiving Sermon to the House of Representatives in which he pointed out that the enemy without was more dangerous than the enemy within:

“We should be thankful to God because He baffled the plot which was formed against us in Europe. With the evidence now before us, no candid man can doubt that the conspiracy against our Republic led to Europe, and that the foreign branch, then was more formidable than that on our own soil. The plot was prepared with as much care in France and England as in the Southern States. The European part of it was ready quite as soon as their accomplices here. When the moment arrived, France and England, by proclamation, and according to previous agreement, lifted the traitors to the position of lawful belligerents… England was on hand to aid in crippling a commercial and manufacturing rival, and gratify her jealousy of the United States, and get ready her Alabamas, and swift steamers to run the blockade. Nothing saved us at the outset from more active interference, but the perfect confidence of France and England that our ruin was sure through what had been done already. They watched and waited for our destruction in vain; but they thought it certain. They were ready to strike, but thought the blow not needed.” (National Thanksgiving Services held on December 7, 1865, in the House of Representatives of the United States of America by Reverend Charles Brandon Boynton, Chaplain of the House pp.10-11)

These were the days before the ‘Special Relationship’ when war between America and Britain was still a living memory (England had burned Washington in 1813) and perhaps a distinct possibility of the future. Read the rest of this entry »