Writing in the Financial Times this weekend, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor and a former director of policy planning in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, takes aim at Mrs. Thatcher’s “19th century” view of Europe, particularly her notion of the continent “as a stage for balance-of-power politics,” an odd rebuke as that is what, in many, respects exactly what it continues to be, albeit behind the screen provided by the EU. Aside from her (entirely justified) disagreement with Thatcher’s opposition to German unification, the essence of Slaughter’s critique appears that the legacy of Thatcher’s differences with the EU risked, as Slaughter puts it, leaving “Britain outside global power circles altogether,” a prospect (however unlikely) that may chill the blood in Foggy Bottom and Turtle Bay, but will, hopefully, not be enough to persuade Brits to sign up for today’s equivalent of Orwell’s Eurasia.
Thatcher supported the European Community, an economic union, but described the more political EU as “perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era”.
A quick glance at the headlines of the last few years might to seem to show that Thatcher was right about that, something that doesn’t seem to concern Professor Slaughter overmuch. Instead she rehashes the same line that Brits heard from the Obama administration earlier this year:
Today the US needs not Britain but Europe, the largest global economy, with a growing political and military role. In a world in which the US sees the rise of Asia as the most important geopolitical trend, it does not imagine partnering with Britain but with Europe as a whole.
Which is just fine (if optimistic), but it is still no reason for the U.K. to commit national suicide.