World News and Trends: How's Britain been faring?

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How's Britain been faring?

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Have we quite forgotten our global past? I recall, as a schoolboy, gazing with wonder at a map of the world, one quarter of which was coloured red, an empire and commonwealth on a scale never seen before. We had commitments, interests, responsibilities everywhere, and we took them with great seriousness" ("Turning Our Backs on the World," The Spectator [London], April 11, 1992).

Clearly, harsh realities are everywhere present in the British Isles today. Philip Stephens commented: "Britain is turning in on itself. Cool Britannia, self-confident globalism and liberal internationalism—all belong to a bygone era...The time has come to pull up the drawbridge and pay the bills. Introspection and austerity are the leitmotifs of the new age. Things are going to get grim...Taxes are going up and living standards are set to fall...The lesson from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was that even before the cuts military commitments were running far ahead of resources" ("Austerity Spells the End of Britain's Post-Imperial Reach," Financial Times, Oct. 22, 2010).

Journalist Simon Jenkins has caught the unfortunate spirit behind the current defense cutbacks. His long feature article in the Nov. 5, 2010, issue of London's Guardian was headlined "Why It's Time to Scrap Britain's Armed Forces." Exorbitantly expensive armaments have been proffered as one big reason for these drastic defense cuts. Britain has been famous for its highly effective Harrier jet aircraft, but it's soon to be a mere memory, with no new aircraft carriers on the horizon. Even military manpower comes at a high cost today.

How does Britain's longtime ally, the United States, view these negative defense developments? The British magazine The Economist commented: "To Americans, it all looks like a dis-arms race. NATO's longstanding call for allies to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence has been lost in the clamour over wider public-spending cuts" ("Defence Spending in a Time of Austerity," Aug. 26, 2010).

But is Britain possibly in the process of repeating similar disarmament errors committed in the 1930s in the face of the Nazi threat? The Economist article continued: "The global pecking order is determined as much by economic performance in peacetime as by martial abilities in wartime. By this measure, China's economic strength should give the West cause for concern. China is also fast building up its naval power."

To help its own people and the American government to swallow these indigenous cutbacks, Britain has signed a new defense treaty with France—joining up their respective armed forces. After all, the French have rejoined the NATO command after many years on the outside. But Philip Stephens, in another of his Financial Times columns, did add a paragraph of warning to his mostly positive reaction to this mutual entente. "Things, of course, could go wrong. The relationship between France and Britain has for centuries been shot through with intense and often bitter rivalry. The [English] channel has frequently looked wider than the Atlantic" ("A Cordial Entente to Match the Realities of Power," Nov. 2, 2010).

For a biblical answer to Paul Johnson's question about what has happened to the British, we again refer you to our read our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. (Sources: The Spectator, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist.)

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