THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Are they rude, or am I out of date?
Midday train to Georgia

Delusions of importance

One of the most disturbing things about being back in Britain is being exposed - for example when watching Question Time from Norwich this week - to the delusions of the British people about their country's role in the world.

One audience member after another said words to the effect that "we" cannot stand by while Africans starve / Libyans are oppressed, etc., etc. Well of course, shoulder to shoulder with our military peers (say Belgium) we can exert some influence. Otherwise, why is it any more for us to solve Libya's problems than, say, China? She has more than a million men under arms, the money to equip them and the resources to deploy them anywhere they are needed. Russia has a large army and a military itch to scratch. The aid we have given to Pakistan has freed up resources for that country to build up its armed forces. Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and India even has a space programme (which Britain cannot remotely afford). Perhaps one of those guys could have a go?

We - for all the global pretensions of the naive of Norwich - have only a small number of overstretched, under-equipped but laudably loyal warriors. It is amazing that they remain so, despite being used principally to promote a macho image for effete ex-public school politicians, while being slagged by the likes of Germaine Greer as potential rapists.

Britain, it seems, has lost an empire but refuses to give up the role.