9:16 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
In the late 17th century, times were tough in Scotland. The Stuarts, the Scots’ royal family, had been tossed off the throne of England for a second time, and the country had been excluded from the burgeoning English system of international trade regulated by the Navigation Acts. Even the climate was more miserable than usual: these were the worst years of northern Europe’s “little ice age.”
In an attempt to try to improve its economy and its international position, the Scottish government formed a trading company like the English had established in the East Indies and North America. Its purpose was to establish a colony and commercial center in Darien, on the Pacific coast of the isthmus of Panama. “The idea attracted immense enthusiasm among all classes in Scotland,” wrote T.O. Lloyd, “and led to disaster.” It was an economic disaster and a strategic failure. “[T]he Spanish first watched it carefully to see that it showed no sign of succeeding and eventually in 1700 they captured it.” The loss was “perhaps as much as half the floating capital of Scotland.”
At least for appearance’ sake, the Scots blamed the English for the collapse of their one and only attempt at independent colonization – that is, competing in an era of rapid globalization – but in fact, they took the lesson to heart. One of the terms of the 1707 Acts of Union with England was that the Darien investors would be repaid, but the more important, if informal, deal was that the Scots would become full partners in the British empire. “[T]he effect was to give eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scotsmen opportunities…that had previously been closed to them,” observed Lloyd. “And these opportunities were very considerable…at the time people saw [the empire] as the largest area of unrestricted trade in the world.” Many of these opportunities lay in America. The Colonies’ rapid growth in the 18th century owed much to enterprising Scots immigrants, who numbered among the most vociferous advocates of the prospects for empire in North America; Benjamin Franklin swiped a good part of his best imperial propaganda from Cadwallader Colden, a Scotsman born in Ireland who came to Philadelphia in 1710.
In sum, simply being a member in good standing of the British empire has made Scotland and Scots richer, freer, and safer than they were, would have been, or, quite possibly will be on their own. Since the English themselves no longer seem to be very British, neither Prime Minister David Cameron nor the hapless “Better Together” campaign have been bold enough to remind voters in Thursday referendum of Scotland’s previous and unfulfilling experiences of independence.
Likewise the American press is indulging itself in an exhilarating “Braveheart” moment, and quivers in hopes that the Catalans or Basques might be next. But just as the building of the British imperial union was foundation and precursor to an American one, so might the unraveling be a similar foreshadowing. Today Britain seems to harbor the desire to be anything but great – as, increasingly, does Barack Obama’s America.
6:15 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By JONATHAN FOREMAN
This week’s referendum on Scottish independence may seem like an obscure, perhaps even Ruritanian quarrel to many Americans, but it has profound implications not just for the U.K. and Europe but also for the United States.
They didn’t let the old game down.Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By C. J. CIARAMELLA
“Good old rugby football. All over the
British Isles its exponents were in the van of those who went.”
Bishop of Bloemfontein
and former British Lion, 1921
2:23 PM, Sep 2, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
With the president attending this week's NATO summit in Wales, and the heightened concerns among the organization’s members – especially the newer ones with experience of hand’s-on Russian domination and rule – it might be profitable for our “allies” to consider some facts reported by Gideon Rachman in the
Before the trenchesSep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Great War did not begin in the trenches, in rain, mud, and dark futility. At first, the fighting was out in the open under blue skies and late summer sunshine. There were bugles and drums, and sometimes the troops even sang when they charged. French officers leading these attacks wore white gloves.
On the whole, Europe welcomed the war. One of England’s finest young poets, Rupert Brooke, wrote in gratitude
2:48 PM, Aug 15, 2014 • By JOSH COHEN
It was a threat Europe’s security services had long feared coming true.
2:32 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece of August 6 about “the surge of poisonous anti-Semitism around the world, particularly in Europe,” Andrew Nagorski had the temerity to note that “the president [Obama] has not prominently addressed the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, much less its pervasiveness in the Muslim world.” This is, of course, an understatement.
5:33 PM, Aug 5, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Here, in the parlance of the times, is a “pro-tip.” When attempting to rebut the notion that anti-Semitism in Europe is largely a problem caused by young Muslim men, don’t cite two horrific anti-Semitic atrocities perpetrated by . . . young Muslim men.
11:58 AM, Jul 25, 2014 • By JEFFREY GEDMIN
I've lived in Europe the past dozen years—in Berlin, Prague, and London. When it comes to Israel, Europe's ways seldom cease to amaze.
2:12 PM, May 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Going by the returns, the voters were weary of high unemployment, economic growth that it would be charitable to call “sluggish,” and a high-living, rule-writing bureaucratic elite enthralled by its own policymaking genius and inclined to dismiss critics as ignorant racists.
Italy tries someone new.Apr 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 31 • By MICHAEL LEDEEN
Italy has long been Europe’s political laboratory, having invented fascism, incubated eurocommunism, launched the postwar economic miracle, and brought the social democratic nanny state to ruin. Most Italians are very unhappy, as well they might be. Unemployment is at record highs (13 percent overall, the highest in the history of the measurement, while for 15-24-year-olds, it’s 42 percent). The cost of living, as anyone who has visited recently will know, is outrageously high, and more and more parents are telling their children to learn German or English and emigrate.
1:26 PM, Apr 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crisis in Ukraine has not reached the dreaded point where it turns into a shooting war. And likely it will not. So we hear no urgent analysis of things like objectives, interior lines, unity of command, logistical staying power, the durability of alliances, and the other matters that have been the concern of European strategists since the days of Napoleon.