The Feel-Good but Misguided Brexit

The Brexit vote delivered a sharp rebuke to the cumbersome E.U. bureaucracy and the Establishment in general, but it won’t solve the problems facing the U.K., Europe and the planet, writes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

By Graham E. Fuller

What an irony that Great Britain should be the one country in the world to deliver what could be the coup de grâce to the modern European order and to a meaningful Atlantic relationship. It is incredible that the population of the U.K. should have so thoughtlessly lurched into such a breathtakingly regressive, ignorant, narrow-minded and destructive act in our contemporary world.

However good the 52 percent who voted in favor may feel about torpedoing this major experiment in the making of a new European world order, their heads are firmly implanted in the sand (if that is what it is) as to what the realities of contemporary global currents are. These realities come with our modern world. Disliking them will not make them go away.

President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom prior to a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom prior to a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First, widespread large-scale immigration, both legal and illegal, is going to characterize all the rest of this century at a minimum. Destructive wars (including those launched by the U.S.), civil conflicts, environmental degradation (with some degree of Western responsibility involved), disease, health crises, lack of education, corruption, instability, bad governance, and the magnet pull of countries in the world that do work somewhat successfully — all of this will drive the refugee flow predictably year after year. It cannot realistically be physically stopped.

This is, in fact, the number one global security issue: only by taking bloated Western military budgets and applying large hunks of that money to some alleviation of conditions in the developing world can anybody begin to treat the problem at its source. Forget the beautiful walls, border guards, ramped-up sea patrols, or buying off Turkey to be a holding pen. Leaving the E.U. will not, in the end, make a whit of difference in shielding the U.K. from these realities as long as the U.K. is going to be part of this world and compelled to partake in much of our common human agony.

Second, “taking our country back” is an unthinking, lame and simple-minded cliche. Anyone can, and will, utter it. Scotland will likely now “take its country back,” and so will Chechnya and Quebec, maybe Texas and California. Or Quebec and eastern Ukraine, or the Uighurs of China in Xinjiang. Or all the Kurds of the Middle East. The list is literally endless. What is a “country” and who is taking it back? And from whom, and in whose name, and over whose objections? And by what means? Five hundred new nations, anyone?

Third, globalization is a reality. It can’t be stopped. It consists of airlines, and internets, and global banking systems and communications. It is a very mixed bag; it is by no means an absolute good. Apart from its demonstrable benefits for many, globalization also has real downsides; it hurts many, including in the industrial world.  And it threatens local cultures and autonomies. But no country can stop the process.

When foreign labor is ever cheaper than Western labor, when Asian and other societies are proving just as technically adept as Western ones (if not more so), and when robotics are replacing much unskilled and even skilled labor, what will the Western workforce do? There are some partial answers to this — increased social services and niche industries among other things. But Brexit will not solve this global problem of globalization. It represents the highest and ultimate form of capitalism if you will.

Fourth, broad voluntary regional political associations are the wave of the future if we are serious about the need to diminish the likelihood of (nuclear) war. The E.U. demands that its members accept the principle that war among themselves in pursuit of national interests is “unthinkable.” That is a strong but vital word. Europeans well understand the reason why after having run what may be the bloodiest continent in human history in terms of numbers killed in wars.

A Flawed Best Hope

The E.U. represents the best hope humans have put together so far — in just a limited but important region admittedly — to abolish war. Yes, the United Nations remains a noble aspiration and a work in progress, but cannot yet boast of consistent accomplishment. To abandon the E.U. association that has delivered seven decades of peace is retrogressive — maybe even immoral.

Flag of the European Union.

Flag of the European Union.

Fifth, the E.U. is not a finished turn-key project, but a work in progress. British are churlish to scuttle this unique human experiment in its relatively early history of developing its political and economic vision. Of course there are things wrong with the E.U. Where aren’t there things wrong with large political orders? Is the U.S. a model? Russia? China?

The E.U.’s unelected bureaucracy certainly deserves trimming, rethinking, and reining in some of its excesses. But you don’t kill it to solve shortcomings. Political orders are delicate constructs, hard to build, easy to bludgeon. Is the E.U. incapable of further change and reform that it should be abandoned?

Six, increasing regulation is the order of the future. While legitimately irksome to libertarians and individualists, modern societies are aware that nearly all fields of human endeavor require increasing and detailed regulation: health, hospitals, medicines, food, construction safety, highways, guns, vehicle safety, child care — the list goes on. The list will never get smaller. Most people are demanding more regulation in these fields and not less.

All modern societies will increase regulation of everything as the world grows more crowded and social orders more complex and vulnerable. Eat your heart out, international cowboys, but we don’t live on the frontier anymore. You may love to hate Brussels, but fix it, don’t kill it.

These, then, are some of the most obvious features and growing realities of our modern world. We don’t have to like them, but there we have them. They are in the nature of the beast of the modern international order; they are not going away. Growing populations will increase all of them. And British Brexiteers are not going to change any of that one iota. Nor can they truly shield themselves.

The U.K. will, however, become increasingly irrelevant in sharing in the common human undertaking of trying to build better and more rational structures to live together on this fragile planet.

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan. (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com

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42 comments for “The Feel-Good but Misguided Brexit

  1. Annie
    June 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Good grief! He sounds like someone who would have tried to stop the French Revolution. “Didn’t you hear the Queen? Eat cake!” If he were a Brit, not making a decent wage, or no wage at all, and under the thumb of an unelected body, maybe he could find some understanding in why 52% of the population wanted their country back and hoped for something better, and just maybe get it. His arrogance is rather appalling.

  2. Lawrence Magnuson
    June 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    “The Brexit vote . . . won’t solve the problems facing the U.K., Europe and the planet.”
    Nor will it build a pyramid or pioneer a colony on Mars. With a thesis like this, substitute for ‘Brexit vote’ literally any other term and it is still ‘true.’–as a fallacious construction–‘goldfish’ or “Magna Carta’ for instance.

  3. Bill Bodden
    June 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    The E.U. represents the best hope humans have put together so far — in just a limited but important region admittedly — to abolish war.

    Among the original reasons for a union of Western European nations was the highly commendable aim of obviating wars between its members. Unfortunately, the European Union through its support of the US military-industrial complex’s European agency – NATO – means we have a Frankenstein monster with a potential of going to a much bigger – and nuclear – war with Russia.

    Autocrats and other dangerous players in the authoritarian community tend to see war as a means to an end. The upper ranks of un-elected leaders in the European Union immediately went into hardball mode against the Brits for having the impertinence to say they didn’t like the way the bureaucrats in Brussels treated the citizens with their let-them-eat-cake attitude. This could also be a signal to Vladimir Putin as to what Russia can expect from the west.

    At this time there is an election in Spain the result of which may or may not portend a threat to the future stability of the EU.

    • dahoit
      June 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

      I thought the UN would be far more universal and important than a bunch of Europeans playing pattycake.

  4. Zachary Smith
    June 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Third, globalization is a reality. It can’t be stopped. It consists of airlines, and internets, and global banking systems and communications. It is a very mixed bag; it is by no means an absolute good. Apart from its demonstrable benefits for many, globalization also has real downsides; it hurts many, including in the industrial world. And it threatens local cultures and autonomies. But no country can stop the process.

    I couldn’t help but notice Mr. Graham E. Fuller left out the key part of Globalization – Corporate Governance. I might add that I disagree with most of what he said in this paragraph.

    The E.U. represents the best hope humans have put together so far — in just a limited but important region admittedly — to abolish war.

    This is the most astonishing statement in an essay filled with amazing thoughts. The same EU which oversaw the destruction of Greece – leaving it in a pre-revolution state? The same EU which has actively stoked the civil war in Ukraine – this is the Best Hope?

    B.S.

    Headline: EPP: EU should tell Russia we are ready to go to war

    The EPP is the largest political group in the European Parliament, and the party behind the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission. It has the support of some of Europe’s most powerful leaders, including Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.

    Nothing but peace and lovingkindness there.

    Headline: Britain will be forced to join an EU ARMY unless we leave, says Armed Forces Minister

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/673463/Britain-forced-EU-ARMY-leave-Armed-Forces-Minister

    One wonders why the Best Hope For Peace needs an army. Perhaps Mr. Graham E. Fuller will write another essay – this time with internet links and academic/news sources.

    • Annie
      June 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Wow! I couldn’t agree more. Great piece you have there.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Zachary, having agreed with everything you wrote here I would like to add, how the New World Order has done nothing towards making the world a better place. For one, I would like to see the NWO abolish war. Another thing I would like too see is a world healthcare system put in place, that would cover every humans health needs. Also, to rid all sovereign governments of corporate ownership, corporations should serve the people, not the other way around. Finally, (leaving many more things for space appropriation) to stop the bankers from raping all of their nation clients to the point of depriving people of their natural necessities in life. It’s all about fairness, and about doing the right things. Replace the love of money with the love of humanity. I’m going to go now, and listen to some Phil Ochs.

  5. RPDC
    June 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    This might be the worst piece I’ve ever read on Consortium News. Spoken like a true CIA technofascist. Guess what, Graham – the people know better than you, and the idea that exiting the EU will prove disastrous has no basis in reality. What do you think is going to happen? That the UK will become more like Norway and Switzerland? Two countries that are not in the EU, and yet somehow (defying all “laws” of neoliberal economics) have the two strongest economies in all of Europe. Your enumerated musings presented as immutable fact are, with due respect, hackneyed bullshit.

    Regional political associations are “the future,” and how we avoid nuclear war? Surely you jest. How is NATO doing with that one? How is Europe doing at “avoiding” the risk of nuclear war today?

    Christ almighty – we keep hearing the term thrown around, but it’s still jarring when you see true, unadulterated Fascism.

    • Sfomarco
      June 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Regional political associations, such as Mercosur, have no future, as they will be crushed by the CIA, US judges representing Vulture Hedge Funds, & etc.

    • IAL
      June 26, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Exactly correct RPDC.

    • Silly Me
      June 27, 2016 at 5:35 am

      I guess, the site allows crap like this in order not to be accused of being one-sided. Sadly, even bad propaganda works. Name recognition sells 60% of all products. It’s enough if people think in your concepts and you have won.

      Fight back by formulating your concepts and force them on your opponent.

    • Jakob Lystbæk
      June 28, 2016 at 11:21 am

      You seem to avoid the fact that both Norway and Switzerland implement EU regulation, without any say in them, since they are part of the common market. If the UK receive a similar deal, that is of course good for the British economy, but it’s a far cry from independence from the EU. While it saddens me to see the UK leave, I ultimately think it’s good for the EU. The preferential treatment the UK has enjoyed during its membership was a mistake.

  6. Dennis Merwood
    June 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    To abandon the EU is not immoral! Come on!
    I agree with you RPDC, this might be the worst piece I’ve ever read on Consortium News.
    Surely Great Britain is going to benefit from leaving this undemocratic club as much as Norway did.
    Come on Greece…your turn. Stop acting like an abused spouse.
    And maybe, just maybe, this “immoral” NATO vassal of the US military will be reeled in…but don’t hold your breath.

  7. Realist
    June 26, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    The author might have added, if you like the EU, you’re really gonna love TTIP. Perhaps Europe should have stopped, or at least slowed down, with the implementation of a Common Market, rather than ploughing full speed ahead into creating the beginnings of someone’s idea of a new world government. It’s not just Britain that chaffs at the encroachment of Brussels upon its sovereignty but countries like Poland and Hungary are also displaying their own backlash, though from a more right wing authoritarian vantage point. Apparently, one size does not fit all. While some talk tough about forcing Britain to remain in the EU through coercive non-democratic means (a re-vote, a coup by Parliament or economic warfare by outside forces), others are saying that the story of Brexit will soon be re-written as Frexit, Nexit, Swexit and maybe even Gexit… accompanied by the defenestration of Frau Merkel. Perhaps smaller bites were required, Mr. Fuller, before the intended overarching NWO could be properly digested, even in the limited form of the EU. As you say, the world always changes, and nothing precludes another bite at the apple in a more deliberative calibrated way that does not turn so many lives upside down so rapidly. Cologne did happen and it scared the bejesus out of not only Brits but people across Europe who will now apply the British experience in some fashion to their own countries. Wait for it.

    • Silly Me
      June 27, 2016 at 5:29 am

      Sorry, calling a country right-wing because it opposes forced immigration from incompatible cultures might overdo it.

      On the other hand, I agree on TTIP.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        June 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm

        “Incompatible cultures?” What racist garbage.

        • Silly Me
          June 28, 2016 at 6:37 am

          Says who?

      • Realist
        June 27, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        Poland has been called right wing by the rest of the EU not just because of their attitudes on immigration, but because of newly implemented policies with regards their court system and control of the media. The new PIS government has been consolidating power in such a way as to make it virtually impossible for the opposition to change things back even if they should win big in the next elections. I don’t think the description is overwrought when the executive branch does things like stacking the courts and certainly is not based only on its refusal to implement EU immigration policy. Poland has become a bastion of Russophobia, Yankophilia, and right wing extremism across the board. You need to look more deeply into the situation.

        • Silly Me
          June 28, 2016 at 6:41 am

          The Poles don’t want globalist “humanitarian” organizations to wreak havoc in their country. Considering what such powers have accomplished, it looks like a smart decision. One doesn’t become stupid because he is right-wing or left or whatever else. Who benefits from a decision shows its value.

          • Realist
            June 28, 2016 at 4:44 pm

            Those presently in power also don’t want the internal political opposition to ever be in a position to gain power at the ballot box again, irrespective of all the bruhaha about so-called racism and xenophobia. So, Kaczynski and his authoritarian lot in PIS have unilaterally changed the rules, stacked the deck, made the system less democratic and flexible. That is why they have been called out as “right wing” by other democracies in Europe. It’s not just about accepting Muslim refugees from the Middle East. That particular sentiment seems to be shared throughout Eastern Europe. It’s not just about adhering to mandates set down by Brussels. Truth be told, the present government would prefer to turn Poland into a Roman Catholic theocracy where women have no more rights over their own bodies than women do in Saudi Arabia. These are the same fools who would rather pay twice the price to buy liquified natural gas from the United States rather than patronise Russia. Their thinking is trapped by their hates and prejudices.

  8. IAL
    June 26, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    And how did that globalist philosophy work out for the Roman Empire – 8 Reasons Why Rome Fell – http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/8-reasons-why-rome-fell ?

    It did not.

    Why?

    Because INDIVIDUALISM > NATIONALISM > GLOBALISM.

    Anyone who says otherwise does not understand the God of this Universe and is doomed to fail.

    The historical lessons that God has provided tell you all you need to know if you open your eyes and your mind.

    Otherwise, continue to believe what you believe and see what that brings.

    I already know the outcome. Do you?

    IAL Ph.D. MBA

  9. john francis lee
    June 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Why do you continually publish Graham A. Fuller? The godfather of Iran-Contra, of al-CIAduh, the father-in-law of Ruslan Tsarnaev?

    CIA leopards do not change their spots. I cannot believe that you spread your cloak of respectability over this creature of the most vile, unaccountable, and murderous organization on earth. Who next? John Brennan? Barack the Nobel PeacePrize Laureate slash CIA Tuesday Drone Assassin?

  10. Brian
    June 26, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    This guy is clearly representing western establishment in a biased and entirely close minded way. I’m surprised a website like consortium news would allow him this rant.

  11. FobosDeimos
    June 26, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    The EU was certainly a noble project, but it looks like it stopped being that a long time ago. As for preventing wars, I would like to add to the other coments that the EU has become little more than the political wing of NATO, a collection of warmongers bent on satisfying the US’ every single command. The EU and its major components cheered on as Yugoslavia (another noble experiment that came about afterWWI situated in Europe!!) was destroyed by nationalist fanatics. Germany was happy to see Serbia punished for its brave resistance during the nazi years. Britain, Germany and most of the EU leadership also cheered on while Bill Clinton bombed Belgrade for 75 days! Last but not least, the armed wing of the EU destroyed Libya and made everything possible to cause the surge of ISIS there. In short: the real EU has nothing to do with the EU that Mr. Fuller dreams of.

  12. Higgs Boson
    June 26, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Perhaps if European and British politicians were not so hell-bent on inflicting neoliberal austerian economics on the populace, things would not have deteriorated to this point. The only heads in the sand were those of the ruling class.

  13. Bill Bodden
    June 26, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Anyone suggesting that the European Union is categorically a force for good has to be blind to certain obvious facts. Europe, like other continents and nations, has, and has always had, some of the best and worst of people. Recent actions suggest the top level bureaucrats in the EU are among the latter. Consider how merciless they (along with the European Central Bank and the IMF) have been in their treatment of the Greek people and their imposition of austerity on the Spanish, Portuguese and Irish. – http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/14/neoliberalism-nakedly-exposed/.

    FobosDeimos has provided a concise account of the EU’s capacity for cold-blooded warmongering that clearly has not expired. They may not want a war with Russia, but add some march of folly to their pathological arrogance and Bingo! World War III.

    As for the Brits they may, or may not have, escaped the predatory tendencies of the European Union, but they have good reason to fear similar threats from home-grown leaders and would-be leaders.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 26, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Der Spiegel on the advantages of Brexit for Europe: “A permanent, shared headquarters is needed for increasingly important EU military missions in places like Mali and the Mediterranean — something that all EU countries want, except for the British, who have blocked it. ” – http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/britain-exit-may-not-be-such-a-disaster-for-the-eu-a-1099797.html

    • Silly Me
      June 27, 2016 at 5:24 am

      The problem is it’s a pyramid scheme and the one at the bottom keep losing until a single interest group prevails.

  14. Silly Me
    June 27, 2016 at 5:22 am

    The world works in interest groups; it always has. Join one, form yours, or get extinct.

    It speaks volumes that the world’s most successful ideology comes from the desert where only one group can own the oasis and its followers believe that 72 virgins are waiting for them after death. Ooops, I have forgotten about their women. So have they.

    • MA
      June 27, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Oh, ignorant you

      • Silly Me
        June 28, 2016 at 6:43 am

        Calling names speaks volumes as well.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      June 27, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      The virgins thing is an urban myth. They are allowed 72 FEMALE SERVANTS.

      • Silly Me
        June 28, 2016 at 6:44 am

        Ain’t that cute?

        • dahoit
          June 28, 2016 at 9:59 am

          Just a wish list,like Christmas.Doesn’t mean it will be fulfilled.(72 virgins)The Romans dreamed of vestal virgins right?

      • Evangelista
        June 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm

        Correct. In just about all cultures young girls, no longer small children, have filled family servant rolls, wherefrom women in servant rolls are comonly referred to as “virgins”. Even in English, where the common term for “virgin” is “maid”. hence, correct English translation of the Islamic concept of Paradise would list “72 maids”, which, even in Modern media-eroticized English usage would not invoke the ‘sexual-functions’ construct the prejudiced and bigoted use the term “virgins” to depracatively conjure.

  15. DocHollywood
    June 27, 2016 at 9:49 am

    The value of Fuller’s piece for CN’s readers is in the insightful comments and rebuttals it inspired.

  16. June 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Funny that nobody, including the author, has mentioned that the EU is a child of the CIA (see http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/06/brexit-european-union.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Committee_on_United_Europe.

    I was positively surprised to see so many negative comments here. On OpEdNews there are a lot of people who are convinced that the EU is a CIA and banker scheme, like the IMF and the World Bank, to impoverish and enslave the world, an opinion apparently shared by former assistant secretary of the treasury Paul Craig Roberts, Michael Hudson, John Perkins, and Catherine Austin Fitts, but I did not expect that point of view here since I have been assuming (maybe wrongly) that most of the commenters are former government employees.

    But it has to be said that here in Germany, anyway, the argument made in the article is the overwhelmingly dominant one, not only among politicians of all parties (except one, the AfD) but as far as I can tell of the general population. If you tell them, for example, that the EU originated with the CIA, they will say, “Fine, then that’s something they did that is actually good.” They think the EU is what has given them peace and prosperity since WW2. Dispute this and you are immediately branded as a nazi (i.e., nationalist) and a racist, so you have to have very solid arguments — which I admit I do not (yet anyway).

  17. michael lacey
    June 28, 2016 at 3:35 am

    “The Brexit vote delivered a sharp rebuke to the cumbersome E.U. bureaucracy and the Establishment in general, but it won’t solve the problems facing the U.K.” We have to wait a see but leaving the union was in my opinion correct! You need to restore the capacity (potential) of the people to resist the corporate elites and their servants in Brussels who have overseen the most brutual neo-liberal austerity – the most horrific treatment of people for decades. They are rejecting the corporate elites who have wined and dined the political elites of Europe to ensure the distribution of income is pushed further in their favour. They have left a nation (Greece) is a supplicant, depressed state; the ‘European Project’ – is a decaying, necrotic arrangement that is incapable of dealing with the challenges of the present, much less the future. Its economic design has failed. It is incapable of dealing with the migration issue. It has long gone past its use by date. Britain has the capacity to be out and once the government has that capacity it can always do the best for the people given external circumstances. The best might in some cases not be very good but that would reflect real resource constraints etc, something that Britain is not particularly troubled by. The next priority is to ensure that all economic policy institutions are accountable and responsible to the people who can regularly cast votes to affirm their approval or otherwise of the economic direction the nation is taking. they could not do that in the union! A currency-issuing government should never cede policy-making powers to an external body unless it is via intergovernmental agreement and is ratified (implicitly or by referendum) by the domestic political process. Let’s hope more follow!

  18. Steve
    June 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    It is heartening to see that so many readers see through G. Fuller’s disingenuous arguments. I was once outraged that Robert Parry gave him airtime. Now I see how clever Mr. Parry is in giving him just enough rope to hang himself. Bravo to CN readers!

  19. Steve
    June 30, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    It is heartening to see that so many readers see through G. Fuller’s disingenuous arguments. I was once outraged that Robert Parry gave him airtime. Now I see how clever Mr. Parry is in giving him just enough rope to hang himself. Bravo to CN readers!

    It was a stroke of genius to post John Pilger’s article next to Fuller’s piece.

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