We’ll Miss You If Britain Leaves the EU – and You’ll Be Diminished, Too
The debate about a British exit from the EU – Brexit – has been dominated by economic considerations: whether EU membership rather helps or hurts the British economy. But geostrategic aspects are at least as important; in the 20th century, the country twice had to fight costly wars to help restore order on the European continent. Brexit would imply a number of wide-ranging geopolitical choices: to lose the ability to co-shape developments in Europe; to go it alone on the international stage instead of using the EU to multiply British weight; to put at risk the close relationship with the US.
Geography may not be destiny, but it is an important defining factor in shaping foreign policy. For Britain, two factors have been decisive: it is an island and it is only 20.6 miles away from continental Europe. In past centuries, the UK had two options – either to focus on the geopolitics of the European continent or to concentrate on being a global merchant empire.
The days of the empire are long gone. The Second World War exhausted Britain to such a degree that it was unable to maintain its domination of faraway countries. The US had become the decisive global power and the anti-imperialist movement had undermined Britain’s empire...