Why the Scottish Vote For Independence Matters

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Why the Scottish Vote For Independence Matters

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Lost in all the fear and concern over what the United States will do about the growing threat in the Middle East from ISIS is next week’s vote on Scottish independence. This historic vote, set for September 18, is off the radar of most Americans. It’s likely only a few within the Washington policy establishment are watching it with any idea what is at stake. While the growing threat from another terrorist group has grabbed our attention this little watched issue could impact the effectiveness of any response to this new danger.

The United Kingdom, which has for 307 years included Scotland, is in danger of breaking up. Polls show a growing support for a “Yes” vote next week to take Scotland out of the union and on its own. With Scotland out of the Union, Great Britain would definitely be downgraded as a lending nation. The impact of such a step is virtually unknown. Much would change. A new flag would have to designed. Wales and Ireland would no doubt reconsider their status. Would they too desire to leave the Union? Britain left alone would be exposed as a diverse nation, shorn of its last vestige of glory with only grey hairs exposed. It would not be a pretty sight.

At stake is the existing status of Great Britain as an effective power in the world. America and the UK have had a long standing "Special Relationship” that has greatly benefited the world. Eleven years ago as the United States formed a coalition to go into Iraq it was Great Britain who provided key military and political support. Now, as America looks like it will have to ramp up another major military effort in the region, its key ally faces a possible breakup of it’s essential political and cultural basis. Anything that changes or weakens Great Britain’s standing among the nations impacts America. The Special Relationship would indeed be weakened.

Britain’s nuclear capability is stationed on Scottish soil. This nuclear deterrent is part of the key to its viability as a partner in NATO. If Scotland secedes from the union what does England do with its nukes? With a weakened political profile what kind of military power will Great Britain be able to project? Scotland’s men and women have played key historic roles as part of England’s military during this period of unity. Anything that weakens Britain’s military standing weakens America and by extension it weakens NATO. Make no mistake Russia’s Vladimir Putin is carefully watching this vote as he probes the resolve of Western Europe over Ukraine.

All this comes at a critical moment in world events. The Middle East is going through historic changes. The Syria and Iraq border has been redrawn by the emergence of ISIS, a virtual autonomous Islamic state which has proclaimed itself as a resorted Caliphate within the region. Whether this new group will remain in place or be replaced or reduced to a minor role is yet to be seen. Their presence and actions have everyone’s attention. How Europe, America and Asia handle this development is important. No one is served in the long term by a barbaric Islamist terror state within this volatile region.

Add to the mix the crisis in Ukraine. Russian leader Putin has invaded a sovereign nation's lands and violated an international border. No European nation will respond forcefully enough to restore Ukraine’s former borders. Indeed, whether or not Ukraine itself will muster the courage to resist this invasion, clean up its own political house and assert its rights as a nation are yet to be determined. Corrupted leadership exists within these nations and those who will suffer most are the people in the streets.

The Scottish vote next week matters when it is considered against the larger stage of current world events. The world order is being shaped by major events. If Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom and breaks up an important centuries old union then other, unintended things could happen. As small an event as this seems it is not occurring in a vacuum.

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  • Malachi 3_16-18
    I appreciate your article, too, Mr. McNeely. I was born and raised in England, but most of my family now live in Scotland. I now live in the US, but try to keep up with what is happening around the world, particularly my home country. The results of the vote came out late last night - or early this morning, depending where you live. It was very close: 45/55, so I don't think the matter has been forever laid to rest. I will watch with interest...
  • dust_i_am
    Surely you mean NORTHERN Ireland would "reconsider their status." The Republic of Ireland fought with Britain over that a long time ago.
  • Carolyn Prater
    Excellent article!
  • CharlieM
    Should Scotland go it alone, it will be a financial struggle for some time. It may lose revenues from businesses moving out as well. There are so many things that come to mind that could happen, therein causing multiple other problems. It is interesting to think about Scotland's future as a non-British country. We, the United States, became and independent country; Canada, was already an established country, and has prospered. Scotland, however, is the northern part of the island - no pond between them. What will the border crossings become? Anything like Northern Ireland and Ireland? Surely there will be some animosity. The UN, NATO, the EU will al play into this. You have provoked my mind to much thinking upon the matter. Thank you, Mr. McNeely. Charlie
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