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The Yanks Made Us Do It

The central question addressed by Samuel Gregg in his timely ruminations about the Anglosphere is how ready and willing its member nations are to “collectively shape the global order” through collaboration beyond that in which they already engage. His chief contention is that, while the nations of the Anglosphere jointly possess the necessary economic, demographic, and military means to be much more assertive globally, certain key political leaders lack the will to turn it into a more assertive player.

Of these reluctant leaders, one is said to be President Obama. “Of all postwar American presidents,” Gregg writes, “Obama seems the least interested in the notion of the Anglosphere as a distinct counterweight to China, the EU, and Russia.”

A second obstacle to the Anglosphere’s development as a global player is said to be Britain, whose past degree of commitment Gregg questions on account of its 1973 entry into the European Union (which back then was called the European Economic Community, or EEC). Thus, after enumerating the assets that he claims equip the Anglosphere to become a more active global player, Gregg cites what the historian William Hay wrote concerning the UK in the late 1950s:

British figures who lost faith in their own country sought closer ties with a European Economic Community whose members had a stronger economic performance. Repudiating an Atlantic orientation marked a price of admission they willingly paid.

While I agree with Gregg that the English-speaking nations’ common interests and bonds make them natural allies, and that they are best served by strengthening these, I believe he fails to mention or downplays two major obstacles.

First, he has not taken into account America’s longstanding and continuing support for Britain’s membership of the European Union. Second, he notes, but sees as an asset rather than a liability, the currently heavy flow of immigrants into Anglosphere countries from countries outside of it. I discuss each obstacle below.

Contrary to what Gregg asserts, the main reason Britain joined the EEC was not because it preferred to throw in its lot with mainland Europe rather than North America. It was because, by the time it joined, the United States had made it plain to Britain that it wanted it to, and would make life very unpleasant for Britons unless it did.

After Germany’s defeat in 1945, it was not long before the U.S. government decided that America’s interests lay in the creation of a united Europe with British participation. This policy, first enunciated in a 1948 State Department memorandum, became a staple of U.S. foreign policy.

The memorandum, which was addressed to Secretary of State George Marshall, was written by his famed director of policy planning, George F. Kennan. It began:

The relationships between Great Britain and the continental countries, on the one hand, and between Great Britain and the United States and Canada on the other, will become for us a long term policy problem of major significance . . . But it is not too early to think out the broad outlines of the pattern which would best suit our national interests.

Kennan’s first two points under this rubric were: “Some form of political, military and economic union in Western Europe will be necessary if the free nations of Europe are to hold their own against the people of the east united under Moscow rule.” And “It is questionable whether this union could be strong enough to serve its designed purpose unless it had the participation and support of Great Britain.”

Kennan was fully aware that Britain’s participation in such a union would be detrimental to its national interest, for his third point was the following:

Britain’s long term economic problem . . . can scarcely be solved just by closer association with the other Western European countries, since these countries do not have, by and large, the food and raw materials surpluses she needs; this problem could be far better met by closer association with Canada and the United States.

Yet the prospect of free trade with America and Canada would be precisely what Washington was willing to compel Britain to forgo by pressuring it to join the EEC, which was expressly set up to favor the industries and agriculture of its members over those of non-members.

As if what we have seen Kennan writing was not brazen enough, he went on, for good measure, to add that:

If we were to take Britain into our own U.S.-Canadian orbit, according to some formula of ‘Union now’, this would probably solve Britain’s long term economic problem and create a natural political entity of great strength. But this would tend to cut Britain off from the close political association she is seeking with continental nations and might therefore have the ultimate effect of rendering the continental nations more vulnerable to Russian pressure.

In terms of slighting the Anglosphere, it is not Britain but America that should be considered the main culprit.

As explained by Richard J. Aldrich, professor of politics at Britain’s University of Nottingham, in his magnum opus on the subject (The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence, 2001), “Kennan was firmly in favour of a federal Europe that would totally absorb Britain,” and U.S. diplomats Averell Harriman and David Bruce “constantly urged Washington to apply greater pressure on Ernest Bevin,” then the Foreign Secretary in Clement Atlee’s Labor government, “to change his mind about an integrated Western Europe.”

During the presidency of John F. Kennedy, Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was sufficiently pressured that he made Britain’s application for entry into the EEC. As historian Anthony Adamthwaite noted in an unpublished 2003 paper, President Kennedy had a “grand design for Europe [that] featured . . . British membership of the EEC . . . [to] give the United States a voice in Europe and help curb France and West Germany.”

Macmillan, before winning election, had sought advice on what Whitehall’s foreign policies should be in the next decade. In respect to American intentions, it gave Macmillan little comfort. His advisers warned, “The Americans are basically unsympathetic to our attitude towards European integration . . . they blame us for standing aside,” adding that, “if forced to choose, the United States would tend to support the EEC rather than the Stockholm group”—meaning the European Free Trade Association created by Britain in 1960 as a counterweight to the protectionist EEC.

As the Prime Minister despairingly wrote in his diary:

Shall we be caught between a hostile (or at least less and less friendly) America and a boastful ‘Empire of Charlemagne’ now under French but later bound to come under German control? Is this the real reason for ‘joining’ the Common Market (if we are acceptable)? . . . It’s a grim choice.

Macmillan’s initiation of British entry into the Common Market was an accession to America’s increasing indifference toward Britain and increasing courtship of Europe. As Adamthwaite remarks: “British leaders, with American encouragement, believed that joining the EEC would strengthen the special relationship . . . The truth however was that the [U.S.] administration viewed British membership as an opportunity to redefine and dilute the alliance.”

The same American policy held in 1975, when Britons held a referendum on their EEC membership: the CIA secretly expended large sums to secure a vote in favor of continued membership. More recently, it was on display when State Department officials reportedly warned Britain that it risked being left out of a free trade agreement with NAFTA should it decide to leave the EU. Contrary to Gregg, the Americans, not the British, have always been the keener of the two to imperil the prospects of the Anglosphere.

Now to immigration, cited as an Anglosphere asset by Gregg, along with the growing global ascendancy of the English language and the robust economies and military forces of the Anglosphere nations. He singles out for special commendation these nations’ relatively higher rates of fertility and immigration than those of potential global rivals (China, mainland Europe). Gregg writes:

The fact that the United States Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand continue to be magnets for immigration (in a manner that ensures that most immigrants do not end up on welfare, unlike those arriving in Continental countries) also testifies to the core Anglosphere’s strength.

I do not know what leads Gregg to claim the Anglosphere enjoys “healthier demographics” than its potential rivals. Whilst American and British fertility rates might be somewhat higher than China’s and those of certain other European states, they are nothing to write home about, especially considering that what is currently keeping the rates as high as they are is the exceptionally high fertility rates of immigrant women who have come from countries outside the Anglosphere.

Based on the British government’s statistics, in the United Kingdom in 2007, the fertility rate of its 10.68 million native-born women aged between 15 and 44 was 1.80 in comparison with the 2.51 rate of its 1.81 million foreign-born women, which generated together an overall fertility rate of 1.91. In 2011, the corresponding rates were 1.89 in the case of the UK’s 10.17 million UK-born women, 2.28 for its 2.23 million foreign-born female residents, which jointly yielded an overall rate of 1.96.

When it is borne in mind that the countries of origin of the vast majority of the UK’s immigrants lie outside of the Anglosphere, its fertility rate, as well as being below the needed 2.1 replacement level, will inevitably result in a steady growth of the proportion of its populace whose ethnic background lies outside the Anglosphere.

The United States fares little better in terms of its fertility rate and the contribution to it made by foreign-born immigrants from countries outside of the Anglosphere. As Cheryl Wetzstein reported in the Washington Times last year, under the headline “U.S. Fertility Plummets to Record Low”:

America’s fertility rate fell [in 2013] to just 1.86 births per woman… put[ting] the US on the same course with many Western European nations and Japan… With its new figure of 1.86, the United States looks like it will lag behind Australia (1.92), France (2.1), Sweden (1.9) and the United Kingdom (1.90).

Again, it has been the much higher fertility rate of its migrant women relative to that of U.S.-born women that has kept America’s fertility rate as high as it has been in recent decades. According to a 2012 report by the Population Reference Bureau, “Fertility rates in the United States have fallen since 1990 among all major racial/ethnic groups.” But, so the report went on, whereas the fertility rate of Latina women in the United States between 1990 and 2010 fell from 3.0 (in 1990), to 2.7 (in 2000), and to 2.4 (in 2010), the corresponding decline in the fertility rate of non-Hispanic white women in the U.S. was from 1.9 in 1990 and 2000 to 1.8 in 2010.

Philip Martin, professor of agricultural economics at the University of California-Davis, noted during a 2010 Population Reference Bureau forum how immigration was changing the United States:

Between 1990 and 2010, the number of foreign-born US residents almost doubled from 20 million to 40 million . . . Thus, immigration directly contributed a third to US population growth, and, with the US-born children and grandchildren of immigrants, immigration contributed half of US population growth.

Again, most migrants to the United States during this period have come from outside the Anglosphere, most notably from South America and especially Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the next 50 years, America’s Hispanic population is set to double from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060, rendering it a third of America’s population, double its present proportion.

It might not matter as much from whence recent immigrants come, were they as ready, willing, and able as immigrants of earlier periods to assimilate. But they have not been. According to a report about Americans of Hispanic origin published by the Pew Hispanic Center in 2012:

A majority [of Latino adults] (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family’s country of origin… More than eight-in-ten (82%) Latino adults say they speak Spanish… And just one-in-five (21%) say they use the term “American” most often to describe their identity.

Finally, as the late Samuel Huntington noted in his 2004 book Who Are We?, the only way a society in receipt of mass migration from countries with very different cultures can preserve its societal security is by successfully assimilating its immigrants. In recent decades, as Huntington also noted, attempts at such assimilation have been all but abandoned in Anglosphere countries under pressure of ideologies celebrating diversity and multiculturalism.

Unless Anglosphere countries drastically reduce their current levels of foreign immigration or take even more draconian steps to ensure the assimilation of their immigrants than they have attempted of late, their prospects for surviving as a distinct cultural unit, let alone for developing into a more active global player, would seem to be slender. Triumphalism about the cheap labor mass migration yields merely risks increasing the perils that the Anglosphere countries currently face from within.

Reader Discussion

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on February 15, 2015 at 15:39:36 pm

My only gripe in this otherwise fact-rich article is the parting shot at Latino assimilation. Large portions of the American population still regard themselves as "Irish", "Polish", "Scots Irish", "Italian", etc. We now view these identities as part of, not in tension with, the American identity. We did not require those populations to lose those labels in order to count as assimilated; rather we absorbed the labels along with the people who bore them. Why should it be a prerequisite for Spanish-speaking immigrants to abandon their labels and identities?

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A Cooper

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.