Throughout history, every once in a while, a revolutionary new form of government has been introduced. From the medieval feudal society to modern democracy various historic circumstances have all contributed to the establishment of a new state system. Maybe it’s time to
revise the European Union. Or at least England’s membership thereof. Peter Oborne contemplates this deliberation in his article A royal salute to the Commonwealth, published in 2011. In the article it is considered whether the more loosely controlled Commonwealth of Nations
is better suited for a political collaboration between independent, interrelated countries than the European Union. In the introduction of his article Peter Oborne starts by outlining the vast extent of the influence and recognition that the British Royal Family is met with and receives across the Commonwealth nations. The Commonwealth of Nations is a non-committal political collaboration between former British colonies that was established when Britain’s colonies gained their independence after the Second World War.
Afterwards Mr. Oborne describes how the Commonwealth was neglected, as a political association to be taken seriously, by various Prime Ministers, e.g. Toni Blair and Gordon Brown. In Mr. Oborne’s opinion the European Union and the “uncritical connection with the United States” (Line 78, page 3) were prioritized over the Commonwealth under the Labour Party’s rule. Mr. Oborne argues that the Commonwealth (if it’s taken seriously by the British politicians) could become a serious contender to be an “important counterbalance (…) to [a] totalitarian China” (Line 72, page 3). He lists various reasons for these assertions, e.g. the sheer global outreach (the member states population count “just under two billion people, approximately one third of the world’s population” (Line 31-32, page 2) and it’s “devo[tion] to the promotion of humane and democratic values” (Line 45, page 2). Furthermore the diplomatic style of the Commonwealth is praised. Whereas the United Nations’ and the European Union’s diplomatic style could be pictured as a ruling with an iron fist by the economic heavyweights of the organization (namely the US in the UN and Germany in the EU) the Commonwealth’s diplomatic style is described as “quiet diplomacy and gentle pressure” (Line 47, page 2). This is seen by Peter Oborne to be an important, and potentially superior diplomatic tool, in a changing world, which isn’t dominated by “one, or at most two, great powers” (Line 41, page 2). His concern is that in a new world without one or two “heavyweight administrative machine[s]” (Line 37, page 2) a ruthless and stone cold diplomatic style isn’t the best suited for international collaboration.
Peter Oborne’s article was released in 2011 and should be seen in that historic context. The Global Financial Crisis, started by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008, lead to a global recession, which also hit Britain. Because of the recession, and the significant debt which many EU member states currently suffer from (and the EU therefore has to support financially), scepticism of the European Union has increased since the start of this financial crisis. In light of these events it can be presumed that Peter Oborne felt that the time was right to publish his article claiming the superiority of the Commonwealth in the modern globalized world. Since Mr. Oborne was the chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph (major newspaper in the UK) his article is written in a very formal linguistic style to reflect the seriousness of the newspaper. Still it is fairly obvious that although his formal language, which is supposed to make the writing seem objective, is used in the text there underlies deep subjective opinions. This can be seen because the argumentation of Mr. Oborne isn’t complete and leaves something to be desired.
Most notably there is an absence of Mr. Oborne being able to prove his assertions which is very troubling for the argumentation to be taken seriously. This can be seen a lot in the article, e.g. in line 21-23, page 1 & 2: “Tony Blair, for example, never took the Commonwealth Conference (…) very seriously”. It may very well be possible that Tony Blair never took the Commonwealth Conferences very seriously but without any form of documentation it is hard to believe this from the article. Most notably Mr. Obornes lack of documentation for his assertions is evident by him claiming “Not for the first time, the Queen has been wiser than her politicians. (…) She has sustained an institution, which retains great value” (Line 91-93, page 3). If Mr. Oborne claims this isn’t the first time the Queen has been wiser he needs to show this to the reader.
Not to mention that it’s a disastrous problem if the Queen can guide British foreign politics in a different route which she finds more suitable since she isn’t supposed to have any political influence at all. Because of the lack of documentation by Peter Oborne it is very hard to see the positive aspects of the Commonwealth of Nations not to mention how it should replace or complement the European Union, United Nations or NATO. If the Commonwealth should become the major international collaboration to compete with China one of the biggest problems is its lack of organization. The Commonwealth isn’t legally binding and doesn’t have a signed treaty. It can be argued that the Commonwealth needs the United States to be part of it for it to really show itself as a counterbalance to China. But the United States already leads and finances a big part of the UN and NATO. It’s hard to see why the United States should agree to be part of another international organization when it already is part of and partially rules two, which essentially serve the same purpose. Peter Oborne claims that the Commonwealth “is devoted to the promotion of humane and democratic values” (Line 45-46, page 2) but one of the absolute main foundations of the UN is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Peter Oborne also claims that the Commonwealth is ideally suited for the 21st Century because it’s many member states whose population total almost a third of the world’s humans. But the UN totals 193 member states and therefore almost all of the world’s population. Therefore it should be concluded that Peter Oborne’s claims are hard to justify and it’s hard to argue against him simply having a very patriotic heart and not thinking logically. Whether the membership and the evolution of the European Union will lead to eternal peace or a dystopian dictatorial state remains to be seen. Nevertheless it is a contemporary contemplation and action is needed if the latter shows itself to be more probable. Mr. Oborne is right in his assumption that the European Union is under pressure. Whether an international organization ruled by the British Queen, and where the member states aren’t legally bound to respect agreed political obligations, is the better alternative remains questionable.