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How Britain Can Stop Eating Toads

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
May 21, 2010
American Interest


The new British government was still settling into its offices when the 38-year-old Chancellor of the Exchequer (in the US he'd be called the Secretary of the Treasury) George Osborne dashed off to Brussels to announce that Britain would not fight, because it could not win, over new regulations on hedge funds.  Meanwhile, the next battle, over the EU budget for next year, is already shaping up.

The hedge fund directive is a typically European mess.  It doesn't address the real problem (hedge funds were not responsible for the market crash of 2008); it is good populist politics on the Continent where it allows politicians to pose as defenders of the little people against the dreaded menace of ‘Anglo-Saxon' capitalism; and it sacrifices British interests (London is an international financial center in a way that Frankfurt and Paris are not) to the needs of the Franco-German partnership at the core of modern Europe.

So the new British government has swallowed its first European toad, only weeks after its predecessor swallowed an American toad: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's bow to the Argentine position that Britain and Argentina need to ‘discuss' the question of British sovereignty over the Falklands (aka Malvinas) Islands in the South Atlantic, scene of Britain's greatest triumph since World War II when Margaret Thatcher's government drove back an inept but brutal Argentine invasion of the rocky, sheep-dotted isles.

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