Britain is part of a secret Anglo-Saxon world conspiracy. How can it also be part of Europe?

3 July 2014

9:12 AM

3 July 2014

9:12 AM

I’m not a great believer in the ‘special relationship’, a concept that exists almost entirely in the mind of British journalists, especially during those occasional moments when the English-speaking nations have to bomb some awful former colony.

Americans and Brits have a generally positive view of each other—speaking the same language will do that—but American foreign policy does not have some special place for us, even during the rule of Anglophile presidents like Reagan; let alone that of ambivalent ones like Obama. America does have three special relationships: two emotional ones with Ireland and Israel, and a sado-masochistic political-financial one with Saudi Arabia.


Still, there is one area where the special relationship is real – spying. As the Washington Post revealed this week, America spies on everyone in the world, literally every country, with four exceptions – Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand.

Awkward, although the Anglo-Saxon world conspiracy is no secret or figment of the French imagination – the activities of the ‘Five Eyes’ have been known for at least a quarter of a century. The information-sharing dates back to the start of the Cold War but the countries significantly stepped up their activities after 9/11, and last year some European Union officials reacted with (understandable) anger after it was revealed that the Americans and Brits were in cahoots in spying on our European neighbours. I always wondered if the Yanks only want us to stay in the EU so we can report back to them about what’s going on in Brussels. Does the PM turn up with a special CIA-issue pen at meetings, I wonder, so that Langley gets to hear what insanity they’re proposing next?

It seems to me inevitable that the EU is heading towards a great schism, with a Franco-German inner core based around Charlemagne’s empire, and an outer region led by Britain, which may leave altogether to rejoin a European free trade area.

Although Bismarck famously predicted that the Americans speaking English would decide 20th century politics, the language of geopolitics is rarely commented upon; and the heart of inner Europe, the common Franco-German-speaking region, is as much a linguistic as political bloc. It may be no coincidence that the countries likely to join Britain in outer Europe – the Scandinavians – also have very high levels of English literacy (although Germany and the Netherlands also do). And part of the reason that Britain has always sat awkwardly in this club is that the ideals and politics of the EU – centrist, statist, regulatory – were thought up in French.

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Show comments
  • Daz Lawton

    Lets be Honest, the Europeans never liked the UK, I like many others should vote YES to get out of the European union. Decide our own path, and make our own decisions!! Middle finger to Euro…….

  • Philip Hackett

    Three weeks ago before Cameron made his robust stance against Junker, he permanently passed 31 areas of Government to Brussels

    Between the 1st of November and 31st
    March 2015 the Lisbon Treaty will come into full effect and 43 areas of
    Government will be permanently transferred to Brussels. One of these refers to
    Referendums. After 2016, if we hold a referendum and we decide by majority to
    return our Government to Westminster which is what IN/OUT actually means (it
    has nothing to do with trade) we will have to ask Brussels for permission to
    leave which of course will be declined. Thus, a referendum in 2017 is pointless
    because Brussels will ignore it. Cameron knows this which is why he nominated
    2017 knowing that most of his M.P.s and the public are numbingly naive and
    gullible. After 2016, Junker will shut down national parliaments and political
    parties and introduce EU political parties. We will thereafter be slaves to the
    EU. Lisbon re-introduces the death penalty to deal with us when we finally wake
    up and take to the streets.

    If the great and good do not wake up to reality before the
    2015 election we will be trapped. UKIP is the only way out. Nigel Farage
    doesn’t seem to understand the full implications of the Lisbon Treaty.

    For example HS1, HS2 and HS3 are Brussels projects and have
    been clearly shown on EU transport network maps for several years. HS3 isn’t
    Osborne’s idea. He is doing as he is told by the Bankers who own and control
    our politicians and the EU.

    The plan to destroy the character of the UK was implemented
    on 11th June 1948. It will soon be completed.

  • global city

    Here is a good link. Lots of meat to build on the back of those power grabs highlighted.

    Isabel’s scoop gets a heads up in it too.

  • Hegelguy

    what rot

  • Bonkim

    Historic togetherness cannot be replaced by an artificially created entity of the European super-state. With Britain out Germany will be the mainstay of the EU – the question is how long that will last.

  • Hegelguy

    “Americans and Brits have a generally positive view of each other—speaking the same language will do that..”
    It does? I should have said the opposite is the case.

  • Hegelguy

    Ed West is like a down at heel old gaffer who keeps boasting that he has a rich nephew. The nephew does not bother to ring up the old man whom he finds a footling bore.

  • Hegelguy

    As a resident of Canada I know Americans all too well. They are the least sentimental of people in foreign affairs and care for no other country whatsoever. Israel is particularly looked after because of the powerful Jewish lobby but other than that all other countries are merely foreigners. England is little known to the average American and they couldn’t care less about it.
    You are living in a fantasy world. Even when Britain was on the edge of doom in 1940 the US stood out of the fight.

    • global city

      Mmmmmm….. Hegel, hey.

      Makes sense.

    • Rocksy

      I’ve lived in Canada too and always found Americans very friendly and interested in Britain. Perhaps if they seem surprised when you claim to be British it is because you don’t look the part and your antagonism toward Britain may underline that. This is a common feeling among some immigrant communities.

      • Hegelguy

        The nephew does not bother to ring up the old man whom he finds a footling bore. When the old man’s business empire was in dire crisis the nephew refused to help for a long time; he only came in in the end when he was given shares at knockdown prices that effectively bankrupted the old man.

        That is why the old man tells his Sunday morning Starbucks mates: “You know, I have a special relationship with that rich young feller. I am the only guy he has never ripped off. We are the Anglo- Saxon conspiracy, even though he is mostly descended from Poles and Mexicans.”

        • Rocksy

          Doesn’t alter any point I made. In fact confirms it.

  • DrWatt

    Britain can never be a part of europe – Britain has never considered itself to be ‘european’ – our links with other english-speaking nations around the world are much stronger than those of europe. Europe is somehwere else other than Britain. Britain can never be a fully participating member of the EU and its values because Europes ideals are alien to us in Britain. Britain has more in common with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand than has with Europe. London is closer to New York than it is to Frankfurt. If you ask people in Britain what other country they would live in other than Britain most would choose to go ‘across the pond’ to the USA or Canada or even Australia or New Zealand – very few would pick a European country – even the Costas in Spain would be low on that list. Ask people if they feel ‘European’ in Britain and the response will be overwhelmingly negative. Europe will always be a foreign place to the British. There is a belief in Britain that runs very deep and should never be underestimated – this strange little island, anchored off Europe is an exceptional place and for many people it is far more real than that artificial construct the European Union.

  • DrWatt

    I’m not a great believer in the ‘special relationship’.

    I’m with you 100% on that Ed.

  • The Masked Marvel

    In the States, the people have a much higher opinion of the British, and a much higher fondness for the country than the Brits do of Americans and the US. There are many ordinary people in the US who think very highly of the “special relationship”. The reverse probably cannot be said about the British.

    Having said that, West’s idea that the EU schism will be a central Franco-German core versus all the peripheral countries is just another way of framing the idea that there will be a two-tiered EU with the wealthier northern countries above the poorer southern and eastern ones, no? The language theory falls a bit flat there.

    • Jabez Foodbotham

      I suspect that ordinary Americans, not being particularly internationally minded people, probably think of the other English speaking nations, by virtue of the shared language alone, to be sort of imperfect extensions of the USA and thus easier to relate to.

      • The Masked Marvel

        Nothing to do with the vast amount of British television and music and British actors in American-made films and tv programmes to which American audiences have been exposed for decades? Or the understanding that Britain has been a vital military ally in years past? Just some vague notion by a simple-minded people? If your theory was correct, Americans would have even more fondness for a special relationship with Canada, no?

  • dalai guevara

    Yes, we note there is some merit in driving the strength of a Northern Alliance. For that to work we need to carpet bomb the single largest delinquent out there, otherwise there is no hope of success whatsoever. No no, you misunderstand. I am not referring to a country or a region even, we must blow to pieces the cultural common denominator of the worst kind: ARTE.

  • Donafugata

    Another excellent piece, Ed West, Douglas Murray and Rod Liddle are, for me at least, the best contributors at the Speccie.

    The description of America’s special relationship with Ireland and Israel being emotional and that of Saudi being a sado-masocistic one, is particularly insightful.

    Alas, Britain through its own relationship with the U.S. has been led astray on many occasions by blindly following an often repeated mistake.

    Time and again, America commits the grave error of believing that the enemy’s enemy is a friend. Currently, their anxiety over ISIS and the caliphate has had them suddenly regard Iran as their new best friend.

    Is there no-one at the F.O. that can explain how naive and simplistic this idea is and that things are far more complicated than that.

  • atticus1900

    A few years ago I, along with several hundred others, was briefed by General Gurganus upon arrival in Afghanistan. One thing he said stuck with me:

    “When you look at the world and see what needs to be done, there are always the same countries that step up to the plate: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA and Great Britain. Make no mistake, when the USA and UK work together, it is the dream ticket.”

  • global city

    The problem for the Anglosphere, especially the ‘special’ part with regards to the US, is that lazy journalists couch it in terms entirely governmental.

    By far the most important aspect of these relationships are the familial and cultural links that have led to other bonds like institutional and business practices. Government relations have quite often been sour and abrasive, but the bonds that tie people are as alive and as healthy as ever, despite idiot journalists and mandarins who see a different focus, as it benefits them personally.

  • Kennybhoy

    The first sentence of paragraph three gives the lie to the previous two paragraphs…?

  • Pootles

    And ‘on the ground’ too, it’s the USA, UK, Aus, Canada & NZ that have done a lot of the fighting in the somewhat questionable recent wars (along with, oddly, Denmark). All that is just the sort of thing that the ‘Anglo-Saxonists’ (people like Kipling, Rhodes, Arthur Conan Doyle) of the late 19th Century had in mind when they tried to imagine the future.

    • Kennybhoy

      ..along with, oddly, Denmark…

      Why oddly?

      • Pootles this context, they don’t speak English? Interestingly, however, and not unlike here, they’ve had general elections and the whole issue of intervention was ignored by the major parties.

        • Kennybhoy

          The great majority of Danes, and every Danish soldier I served alongside over the years, are fluent English speakers. In fact rather more fluent than many native Brits!

          And their pols did a good selling their involvement in ISAF to the public.

          • Pootles

            Indeed, but in the context of West’s piece, English isn’t their native language and, therefore, a key part of their identity. I’m not sure their politicians did do a good job selling Denmark’s role in at all. Like ours, they generally avoided talking about it. As the Labour activist who came to my door at the 2010 election said, in reply to my question, ‘What about the war?’ – ‘What war?’