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Monday, May 07, 2007

A World Without America? Bloody Hell.

I was casting about on the web the other day, looking for interesting subjects, when I came across news of a recent Oxford Union debate. The Oxford Union is a very old debating society, 182 years old to be exact. They have debated a number of issues over that time, from aliens to music to sport to who's more intelligent, Britney Spears or Lily Allen (at least I'd like to think they debated that last one, given that it is an unresolvable mystery) but the debate in question was striking for the bluntness of the proposition: "This House regrets the founding of the United States of America."

The U.S. was ably defended by National Review's Jonah Goldberg, The BBC's Matt Frei, and former Reagan Administration official Peter Rodman. The juxtaposition of Goldberg and Frie shows that most people, regardless of their political leanings, could see that this was a proposition that was batcrap barmy at best. It's primary defenders were radical British Islamists and, strangely enough, one Canadian, probably someone who has grown sick of American hockey teams winning NHL titles. Apparently, one Communist was originally on the roster, but he didn't turn up. Perhaps, Castro called and he had to make a quick Caribbean trip to support the glorious revolution, or help change El Maximal Leader's Depends.

Anyway, as a U.S, citizen myself, I too found the proposition to be as ridiculous as . However, I'm about as likely to be invited to the Oxford Union as I am to be invited to Cuba, especially given that last remark. Still, were I to be included in the proceedings, I have a very good idea as to what I'd say. I would have gone something like this...


"Mr. President, Unionists, my gratitude for your allowing me to sneak in tonight. I must especially compliment you on the cocktails and dinner, particularly that 25 year-old Scotch in the locked cupboard. Ah, The Glenfiddich! Good thing I had my lockpicks with me.

"I must begin by expressing my sincere disappointment in discovering that the proposition before this house is one that regrets the founding of America. I was prepared to support it when I was under the impression that we were speaking only of Germany. I truly long for the days when Prussia and Bavaria were independent states who could spend all their time knocking the stuffing out of each other instead of ganging up on poor, defenceless France and Belgium.

"However, to find out that it is the United States of America in the dock, as it were, is beyond the pale. Surely, the existence of NASCAR and the gauche habit of putting ice in tea have not driven Britons so mad as to whimsically set aside an entire nation as grand as America? I must actually recommend the tea thingy for those blisteringly hot American summer afternoons. Otherwise, the cups would melt on the saucers.

"Perhaps, there is still lingering resentment over the awkward events of 1776? I realise that there's nothing so frustrating in government as to build up a region, invest time and money and snobbish, uppercrust military personnel in it, and then have a bunch of hick tobacco farmers and pamphleteers take over the whole prospect, insisting they can run it better and without recourse to royal approval. Still, Britain was always bound to lose her colonies around the world. If Her Majesty's Empire no longer could contain India and Hong Kong, just how long could it hope to contain a massive territory, packed with well-armed, independent-minded nutters like Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson?

"Losing the U.S. was simply the beginning of a tradition to be expected, whereby former subjects of the Crown decide their interests are better served by transferring control from the blighters at Whitehall to local blighters, within arm's reach so they could wring their necks if needed. Commonwealth? Just wait and see how long it would take Australia to disentangle itself from allegiance to Her Royal Highness if Whitehall were to say, declare Aussie Rules football to be an affront to humanity.

After all, it's only a matter of time before the Scots decide to leave the party as well. One can only endure so many haggis and kilt jokes, especially the ones that combine the two.

Also, Ian Paisley and his ilk can't live forever and even if he did, the changing demographics in Ulster will guarantee that he'll soon be well-outnumbered by convivial Irish Catholics, toasting a fair adieu to the pound and the BBC licence fee.

Even Wales, like the middle daughter in Pride and Prejudice, is no doubt eventually destined to decide to step out on her own, once they convince Charles and his descendants that "Prince of Wales" is only a royal title and not a legal one of property.

A world without America? That's the theme song of Iranian President "Mah-Mood Swings" Ahmadinejad, the well known Holocaust-denier and "casual-day" advocate. Would that outcome really be good for Britain, or for that matter the world in general. Just think of the consequences:

The Beatles would have been touring Hamburg because they had to, and all the songs would be in German. Have you ever tried to sing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in German? It sounds like the Horst Wessel song with a backbeat. Plus, their entire catalogue would be skiffle.

Twiggy would have been "Tviggy" and would have put on 20 kilos from all the schnitzel.

Wembley Stadium would have been renamed "Bayer-Wilheim Stadium" and done up in a swastika motif.

It's not just America's robust and decisive participation in two World Wars that would have been important. You'd miss out on colour television, hamburgers as thick as George Galloway's neck, rock-n-roll, a PC that came with instructions that weren't in Japanese, the inimitable Ford Mustang, Harley-Davidson motorcycles that could roll over a lorry, not to mention the Oscars. British film stars would only have the BAFTAs to look forwards to, knowing that they'd get a proper stiffing at Cannes.

No, America is a grand old nation with lots to offer, just like the grand old nation that gave birth to her. After all, just think of the things that America and Britain share in common:

We both speak English, mostly.

We both love boring old sport that involves hitting a ball with a stick - yours is flat and America's is round but in both cases there's still plenty of time to dash off for a cuppa or a pint.

We both love the messy process of democracy. Admittedly, Congress is not nearly so entertaining as the House of Commons, except when Dick Cheney and Pat Leahy are prowling the Senate at the same time, but we love the fact that those representatives, weasels and blighters that they may be, are OUR weasels and blighters and not the appointed representatives of some lame Charlie Chaplin impersonator with dodgy bollocks and a self-esteem problem the size of Poland.

We both have obnoxiously bright street corners (Piccadilly and Times Square) that serve as a congregating point of reference for absurd televised celebrations.

You have the West End and America has Broadway, and we both have productions of the Lion King and Andrew Lloyd Webber shows that will outlive everyone in this room.

We love great music, great film, great drama and great eats, which explains why sushi and curry are the current national dishes of America and Britain respectively.

America and Britain are soulmates, like bangers and mash, like football and Wembley, like Oasis and breakups, like Prince Charles' ears and Camilla's wattle. We are meant to be a part of the same world and tradition, outmanoeuvring gormless autocrats with a fondness for march music and military regalia.

Regret the founding of America? Balderdash! If America hadn't have been founded, somewhere there would be Britons trying to invent it.


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