Saturday, March 31, 2007


Imperial Alliance of the Day: the Axis of English

Though Roberts does not favor the term, his framework closely tracks the notion of an "Anglosphere"—a natural alliance among the English-speaking former colonies of Great Britain that spreads higher civilization in the form of democracy and capitalism. His own idiosyncratic definition of English-speaking countries, which includes New Zealand but not Bermuda, Canada but not Ireland, and Australia but not India or South Africa, explains the book's curious cross-cutting from London to Wellington to Washington to Canberra. —Jacob Weisberg in his book review "George Bush's Favorite Historian: The strange views of Andrew Roberts"

Perhaps the phrase that Roberts was seeking is "Axis of English." Though the phrase had occurred to me, Australian anthropologist Stephen Bennetts can claim prior ownership.

Bennetts has written a brief memoir of the antiwar movement in Italy as he viewed it during a stay there in 2002 and 2003 and of the shocking change in Australia that he experienced upon his return.

Bennetts concludes

Australian columnist Phillip Adams has written that the only people on earth who believed, or pretended to believe that George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard were telling the truth were to be found among the gullible and culpable in the US, the UK and Australia. Having witnessed this recent distressing period of world history from outside the English-speaking world, I find it difficult to share Orwell's upbeat view of the essentially pacific nature of Anglo-Saxon culture. As descendants of a nation which by 1914 had conquered a fifth of the world's land surface and a quarter of its population, it is not surprising that a vein of militarism lies close to the surface in countries like Australia, Britain and the US. Whether disguised or naked, the logic of military intervention as a tool for advancing foreign policy objectives is a part of the historical traditions of the Anglophone world. It was to this tradition which its unscrupulous leaders appealed in successfully persuading the US, UK and Australia to join the isolated and overwhelmingly English-speaking Coalition of the Willing.

After last year's national election and for its participation in Afghanistan Canada may be considered in the role of fellow-traveler. As for Australia, speakers from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—that bastion of neoconservatism—seem to appear in their media almost as frequently as in ours. Odd.

(Both Weisberg's review and Bennetts' memoir are well worth a read.)

Related post
The Pottery Barn Rule revisited (4/5/06)


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