Why do we think that the citizens of a small archipelago off the European coast have the right to tell Chinese zoos how to feed their animals, for example? Sky News viewers yesterday were demanding that "something must be done" about feeding live prey to tigers. Short of a nuclear strike, what can Britain do to a nation of 1.25 billion people which is (a) one of our principal creditors and (b) has more than a million soldiers?
Of course, we have the right to an opinion but we also need the humility to accept that it's none of our business. It is pathetically undignified to make demands of people able (if they even notice) to give us the finger and laugh. Why do we humiliate ourselves by rattling sabres in the world's face, when everyone knows they are rusty and we have no soldiers to wield them?
The most stupid and dangerous phrase in the English language is "something must be done." Anyone who utters it, without first considering if there is anything that can be done, is a fool. This is not defeatism. If there is nothing practical that can be done now, we can work quietly towards changing the situation. Until we have, it is only common sense to keep our mouths shut.
The habit of command has led to a foolish primacy of foreign over domestic policy. History will condemn Labour for its many contributions to Britain's decline. One of the worst is its pathetic failure to secure energy-independence. North Sea oil was Nature's last gift to a lucky nation. Had the proceeds been spent on commissioning nuclear power stations, rather than chav-fattening, Britain's independence could have been ensured.
To be a British citizen abroad and watch the rusty sabre ineffectually rattled is truly embarrassing.