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Independence Is Not Isolation: another American gets the wrong end of the stick

David Green, 29 March 2016

In the Sunday Telegraph General Petraeus argues against Britain leaving the EU because isolationism would be bad for everyone. He should consult more widely before venturing future opinions. Isolationism is an issue in American domestic politics, but it is not an issue in the UK and has nothing to do with the EU debate. On the contrary, as I argued in an earlier blog:

“Independence will permit us to renew our commitment to outward-looking internationalism instead of the self-serving regionalism of the EU. We will play a full part in the UN, as one of five permanent members of the Security Council, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. By common consent the two biggest international challenges are how to secure peace, including the eradication of terrorism, and how to overcome extreme poverty. The EU is not the best solution to either. Above all, its self-serving regional protectionism prevents small farmers in poor countries from exporting their way out of poverty. Outside the EU we could put new energy into programmes aimed at ending hunger.”

Independence is not isolation. After independence everyone expects that we will continue to play a full part in NATO and the United Nations, as well as all the other international bodies in which peoples work together.

If American leaders want to be taken seriously, their foreign policy should uphold the values that America wants for itself:  freedom and democracy. Applying General Petraeus’ logic to US membership of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, his country should be willing to accept the possibility of being outvoted on every issue by Canada and Mexico.

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