At last enjoying the sweet city living of San Francisco’s Noe Valley, I sauntered over to Martha’s Coffee Shop this afternoon to enjoy a leisurely latte in the sunshine outdoors but spluttered half of it all over the Washington Post when I read its editorial. Not only was it about a topic close to my heart—independence for Scotland—but it dropped several elementary factual clangers, as well as thinking this a bad idea.
Jetlag and vacation or no, my dander was up, my metaphorical pen dipped into the vitriol and I let ’em have it with both barrels:
- Letters to the Editor,
- The Washington Post,
- 1150 15th Street NW,
- Washington DC 20071
November 1st 2012
it was with something between astonishment and anger that I read your editorial expressing concern about the future impact of Scotland restoring itself to being an independent country. Specifically, you assert:
“the more fragmented Europe becomes, the less it will be able to use its collective strength on the global stage, both in military and diplomatic terms.”
Taken by itself, the basis for such an assertion is unclear and smacks of the kind of empire retention Americans have always found distasteful. The independence of Norway in 1906, of Eire in 1922 or of the Baltic republics in the 1990s can only be considered positive steps towards world peace and international co-operation. Indeed, it is the frustration of a people’s aspirations to conduct their own affairs—consider Northern Ireland or the Basque country—that lead to ongoing intolerable outcomes.
It is vital that your paper—the flagship publication in the ‘Capital of the Free World’—gets things right. However, your piece has more than one flaw: it is in error on the SNP policy towards NATO, in error on Scotland’s ability to retain the pound and in error in the proportion of North Sea oil remaining to England (barely 10%).
Few citizens of as large and isolated a country as the US may be fluent in the complex politics of Europe. It may not be obvious to them that, rid of England and its feeble global aspirations, Scotland would become as effective a component of Europe’s defence matrix as Norway or Denmark, or that, by rebalancing its conventional forces, it could supply long-range maritime reconnaissance, tactical oilfield defence and rapid response forces such as the present overstretched UK is unable to do.
But, to enlighten those citizens, as prestigious a publication as your own has a duty to accurately inform them of the real effects of an independent Scotland. Anything less is irresponsible. May I recommend the RUSI study “A’ the Blue Bonnets” to help set minds at rest how much more effective Scotland could be if allowed to forge relations with England, Europe and the US on its own terms—as all normal countries do and as your own Declaration of Independence takes to be self-evident?