Over the weekend I caught a talk-show on ITV which featured Richard Perle,(chairman of Bush’s Defense Policy Board), and Robert Cooper amongst others. It followed the pattern of all these types of audience filled debates concerneing the Iraq situation in that most of the audience was against the war and even the host, (one of the Dimblebys), took a little swipe at the hypocrisy of US Middle East foreign Policy. That is, that he had a little dig at Richard Perle about a number of UN sanctions on Israel not being enforced when we’re about to launch a war against Iraq for violating them.
However, the person who interested me the most out of these characters was Robert Cooper who is a senior British diplomat and, crucially, an influential advisor to Tony Blair regarding Foreign Policy. So I searched the net and found that he was the author of an essay promoting a new Liberal Imperialism which was roundly condemned by the left when it first appeared. I read the article and my knee-jerk reaction was to feel affronted and infact he used the term colonisation far too often for my sensitive soul but that aside it was thought provoking.
I ask myself the question what would my life have been like had I been living in Bangladesh. For all my natural sympathies and best wishes for Bongo Vongo my occasional appearance and temporary residence in the land of my ancesters always ended with a sense of relief when I left and came back to dear old bilaat. Was this due to a lack of loyalty, inability to appreciate the beauty of Bangladesh, having got too used to the lifestyle of the decadent west or was it a nagging suspicion that I felt stifled in Golden Bengal? The latter obviously! Whether it was the suffocating social strictures of my highly orthodox and extended family or the soul corroding culture of baksheesh I don’t know but I loved the land, the food and many of the ordinary people who weren’t actually related to me.
Anyway, according to Cooper, Bangladesh would probably be classed as a ‘traditional “modern” state’ (!) but not a postmodern state such as the UK or the US. As such it would not be a target for direct neo-imperial rule, (phew! well that’s a relief), but would benefit from a ‘voluntary imperialism of the global economy’. This could take the form of complying with the diktats of the IMF, World Bank, WTO and other supra-national organisations or relinquishing some of it’s sovereign rights to a ‘cooperative empire of neighbours’, say if ASEAN or SAARC were to go further along the lines of the EU.
As I see it, Bangladesh is attempting, (or at least paying lip service to), both forms of this neo imperialism but I’m sure it wouldn’t consider itself a voluntary colony! So on the face of it my dislike for the essay and the thinking behind it would appear to be a dislike merely on the grounds of semantics.
However, this still didn’t explain my unease at feeling relieved, (is that an oxymoron?), everytime I came back to Britain from any stay in Bangladesh. Could it be that I would prefer Bangladesh to be more like Britain? I couldn’t quite find the word for how I felt but then further to my searches along the neo imperialist theme I came across the term Anglosphere. I had found the word and the word was not good!
The following is a description of the Anglosphere found on the net:
The Anglospherist school of thought asserts that the English-speaking nations have not only formed a distinct branch of Western civilization for most of history, they are now becoming a distinct civilization in their own right. Western in origin but no longer entirely Western in composition and nature, this civilization is marked by a particularly strong civil society, which is the source of its long record of successful constitutional government and economic prosperity. The Anglosphere’s continuous leadership of the Scientific-Technological Revolution from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century stems from these characteristics and is thus likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Which summarised an article, An Anglosphere Primer, by James C. Bennett presented to the Foreign Policy Research Institute. An organisation that has very strong links with the preposterously hawkish US Deputy Secretary of Defence – Paul Wolfowitz, (now there’s a coincidence!).
I read it and found myself wondering whether I’m starting to hear, at last, the voices of the lunatics who have taken over the asylum, including the asylum of my own anglophone subconscious! These aren’t the random scribblings of SUV driving mid-west gun lobbyists, more like the rationalised outpourings of the inheritors of the views of Cecil Rhodes, (father of erstwhile Rhodesia), Joseph Chamberlain, (father of Victorian Birmingham and Neville!) and all those other 19th century Anglo-Saxon hegemonists. A cursory look through the postings on the libertarian Samizdata.net weblogs has made me realise that I no longer believe that things can only get better.