December 06, 2005

New Alignments Emerging

Two important items have come to my attention, thanks to alert Seedling co-bloggers and commentors. One of Thomas Donnelly's AEI paper on the emerging "Big Four" alliance pattern the Bush Administration is quietly building -- Britian, India, and Japan working together with the US. Donnelly observes:

It is no accident that the four pillars of this emerging alliance stand in roughly similar geostrategic position relative to the Eurasian landmass. In the nomenclature of international relations theorists, the United States, Britain, Japan, and India fit the traditional profile of “offshore balancers”--powers apart from, but with vital interests in, Eurasia. In India’s case, the Himalayas’ ranges give, albeit less perfectly, the separation that the English Channel, the Sea of Japan, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have given to others, but the basic relationships are the same.

I would add Australia, whose contribution as an ally has been all out of proportion to its population and GDP. My own observations on this emerging pattern discuss it in a more specifically Indo-Pacific context. Thanks to ElamBend for the link.

Co-blogger Peter St-Andre notices the following news item about a proposed commonwealth free trade area. The particularly interesting possibility would be if Canada participated. As Canada already has substantial free trade with the US through NAFTA, it would then become the linchpin of a free-trade system that would extend throughout the Anglosphere, and which would include a substantial chunk of the world's population and GDP. Expect for Britain, of course, which couldn't join because it now longer has the right to make that decision for itself -- those decisions are made in Brussels. Key quote:

''Everybody including the United States are signing bilaterals, so I have suggested, and the CBC (Commonwealth Business Council) has suggested the last two days, including to the foreign ministers yesterday, that they should consider a preferential or a free trade agreement among the Commonwealth countries,'' CBC co-chair Rahul Bajaj, chief executive of the Bajaj Auto company in India told IPS.

The business forum of the CBC was held in parallel with a two-day meeting of foreign ministers of Commonwealth countries. The proposal has been discussed directly with ministers from several countries, and the business suggestion has found considerable political support, sources at the forum meeting told IPS on condition that they were not named.

A Commonwealth free trade agreement has several advantages, Bajaj said. ''We have a common language, judicial system, free press, we all feel at home in Commonwealth countries.''

Canadian opposition leader Stephen Harper might want to point out in the course of the current federal election campaign what a good opportunity this would be for building up Canada's trade. And newly-selected British opposition leader David Cameron might point out why Britian has foregone this opportunity for itself. As our co-blogger Helen Szamuely has pointed out, Cameron has never taken an explicitly Eurosceptic stance, at least not to the point of any specific policy proposals. But any opposition leader needs to point out particular aspects of the government's policies that harm their national interest. This would be a good chance.

Posted by James C. Bennett at December 6, 2005 12:06 PM

Two problems with the Donnelly paper: he leaves out Australia and he pays no attention to the developments in British defence procurement and, indeed, defence policy which is heading ever further into an integrated European one (or an attempted policy, anyway). It would be awfully good if some of the important analysts in Washington read blogs.

Posted by: Helen at December 7, 2005 03:24 PM

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