Features

Battle of Britain

International | Will British voters stop the slow, steady erosion of their country's independence and identity?

Issue: "One president, under God," Feb. 3, 2001

Imagine if the secretary-general of the United Nations ordered the Pentagon to permit homosexuals to serve in America's armed forces. Imagine if the managing director of the International Monetary Fund declared that Alan Greenspan had to raise U.S. interest rates. Imagine that the World Health Organization instructed Christian ministries working with drug addicts to employ atheists.

Imagine the reaction: enormous outbursts, certainly. But what if the changes were made slowly-multilateral institutions slowly acquiring new powers during times of crisis or uncertainty?

An illustration often used in speeches is true: Scientists have demonstrated that a frog put directly into boiling water will jump out. If the frog is placed in water that is at room temperature, however, it will stay put even if the water is steadily heated towards boiling point-during which time, of course, the frog dies.

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Cultures and countries can act in the same way. Faced with imminent invasion or attack, even the sleepiest countries can understand and act against the danger. But when the danger is disguised, it can overwhelm even strong cultures. That is exactly what has happened to Britain.

In the 1970s political leaders promised the electorate that the then-named European Economic Community was a free trade area and nothing more. Becoming a member represented no real risks to national identity and sovereignty. Over time the EEC became the European Community and is today called the European Union. The consequences for Britain of belonging to this mutating organization have been far-reaching. It has ordered Britain to open its seas to foreign trawlers, and fish stocks are now almost exhausted. It has ordered our armed forces to accept homosexual men and women into their ranks.

The UK is silent in United Nations debates when the EU-speaking on its behalf-recommends pro-abortion policies. And now Britain is threatened with the abolition of its currency and the slow merger of its army into a pan-European defense force.

Will the British nation wake up and realize the danger it faces? One author-Peter Hitchens-recently wrote a landmark book, The Abolition of Britain. Mr. Hitchens documents how the slumbering mainstream has allowed the disguised enemies of national identity to triumph without a fight. But finally the mists are clearing and a huge dragon is now evident and-in abolishing the pound, our currency-is preparing to destroy the last vestiges of British character and independence.

Britain's future in Europe is now the big issue in national politics. It cuts across party loyalties in the same way that abortion divides American politicians. But like America, one party has a pro-British majority (the Conservative Party) and another (the governing Labour Party) wants to surrender to the Eurocrats. In the next few months the prime minister will call a general election and British voters will be asked whether they want to slay Mr. Hitchens's European giant or invite it to supper.

Britain's unfortunate experience will, I hope, remind Americans to guard jealously their freedoms from powerful international media and government bodies. I also hope that America and its new president will side with those who wish to guard British identity. It is very much in America's national interest to do so.

If Britain ceases to be independent, the United States will lose its most reliable international ally. In the last 20 years Britain and America have often been isolated in their support for nuclear deterrence and in military campaigns against Libya and Iraq. Every other European country opposes Mr. Bush's missile-defense proposals. Only the British Conservative Party has expressed unreserved support. Many times in the last century Britain and America stood together in opposition to communism and fascism. If Britain pools its sovereignty with Europe, America will lose, too.

Britain and America have also made many of the same mistakes. In education we have allowed relativism to prosper at the expense of the wisdom of traditional character education. Once our tax systems recognized the importance of marriage to the upbringing of children and the care of older generations. But today the tax and legal systems often discriminate against marriage. Many British conservatives have taken great heart from George W. Bush's defeat of Al Gore despite the electoral advantage that prosperity should have given the former vice president. His message that we must use prosperity for greater purposes was the right message, one that I hope those of us across the Atlantic will hear as well.

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