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Britain's Backup Plan

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
While news in America continues to be dominated by the usual election-cycle fare of gimmicky talking points, gratuitous finger-pointing and constant bickering over which presidential candidate is best qualified to steer the country into the iceberg, some other countries around the world, such as Great Britain, are thinking ahead to identify possible lifeboats and passing freighters.

There's a very easy solution to the eurozone crisis: Everyone gets their hands back in their own pockets and stops trying to use the European Union to bless the pickpocketing of the better-off countries in the group. It's not a fancy solution, which is why it hasn't been tried. It's tough to bamboozle the plebes with magic socialist fairy dust when the solution is so straightforward. Common-sense solutions deprive nonsense-peddlers and nonsense-decoders of their livelihood.

Odds are that Europe will keep listening to the so-called brightest economic minds, who will continue to ensure their own employment via the construction of elaborate, abstract and useless solutions while everyone else is losing their shirts. It's much easier than taking the first step into reality with a simple, viable solution involving basic cost-spend math that even a border collie could calculate if you provided it with an abacus so it could slide the beads around with its nose. Two beads minus three beads equals stop spending.

Europe is turning into that friend who's always wallowing in self-pity every time you drop by to do something fun, and the only time he perks up is when you offer float him a "loan." German Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps asking Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to kick in some help. He responds by offering trade opportunities previously blocked by Europe -- a chance for Europe to grow its piece of the economic pie by creating more wealth through mutual cooperation, rather than by merely accepting a cash handout. But that's not good enough, or fast enough, for Merkel's taste.

In today's Europe, Germany has taken on the role of Russia in the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile, as Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed earlier this month, Russia has learned the lessons from the failure of the Soviet Union and has decided to reconstruct its influence in the form of trade empires, with all the economic benefits and none of the burden. Russia's creation of the Eurasian Union and its involvement in the BRICS economic bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) allow for independence and influence through free-market economics. When Belarus joined the Eurasian Union late last year, it moved away from straight-up International Monetary Fund handouts.

Great Britain, an EU member that isn't part of the euro currency zone, has always kept one foot inside Europe in its dealings. But as the old dating adage goes, you don't dump the chump before you've secured another one. British Foreign Secretary William Hague was just in Canada to sign an agreement to partner on joint British-Canadian diplomatic missions abroad, and England has plans to do the same with New Zealand and Australia, its other Anglosphere Commonwealth allies.

Britain's Daily Mail quoted another British diplomat on the reasoning behind the move: "For all the grandiose talk of European unity, we have so much more in common with many Commonwealth countries than the EU -- and not just the English language. There's a saying in the British diplomatic corps that 'the French want to do us over, the Germans want to lord it over us, and the Italians are all over the place.' We would never dream of trusting them with intelligence secrets, but we share everything with the Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis."

It's doubtful that a British diplomat would badmouth his nation's European partners if Europe was flush with cash. Hague sounds like a fellow who's tired of dating someone with no disposable income. Time to trade up, perhaps? It's what Merkel wishes she could do had she not signed a prenup with Brussels.

It just so happens that Canada has weathered the economic storm relatively well while looking ahead in much the same way as Russia: diversifying trade and investment interests beyond traditional partners, and forging new international partnerships to gain influence (or at least a vested say) in return.

Only time will tell if the Commonwealth bloc will be reconstituted as an economic entity along the lines of the BRICS or APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation). Ears and eyes on the ground in diplomatic missions often become a nation's anchor for investment and business. The real game may be a long-term economic one.

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