Time for America to Join the Commonwealth

By Sharp, Paul | International Journal, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Time for America to Join the Commonwealth


Sharp, Paul, International Journal


IT IS TIME FOR THE UNITED STATES to join the Commonwealth. Membership in the Commonwealth would facilitate the kind of globalization that is in the American national interest, and it would serve as a hedge against the emergence of a less benign international order based on civilizational power politics. In return, United States membership would offer the Commonwealth a much-needed shot in the arm in terms of resources and ideas that could transform it from a persistent underachiever into a leading model of transcivilizational co-operation.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Durban, South Africa, in November 1999, Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, called for new thinking about modernizing the Commonwealth to make it more effective. A critical element in this new thinking should be a discussion of United States membership, so that it can be on the agenda of the next CHOGM in Australia in November 2001.

Before any such discussion can take place, however, two important emotional roadblocks have to be clared out of the way. On the American side is what may be termed '1776 and all that.'

The Commonwealth, like the Empire before it, is seen as a British operation, and a monarchical one too. Much as they enjoy the activities of the British Royal Family as a spectator sport, for the citizens of a country conceived in liberty and republican virtue, bowing, scraping and dressing up at their behest is out of the question. There can be no going back.

On the Commonwealth side are fears about their own version of le defi Americain. The United States, it is suggested, would become impatient with the consensual and pragmatic way in which the Commonwealth moves towards modest achievements. Americans have never known an international organization they did not create or aspire to own, and their tendency to deal in moral absolutes, of both right and left, would lead them to wreck the Commonwealth by trying to get their way. The Commonwealth, say its keenest supporters, is really a self-help organization of developing states that, for historical reasons, just happens to have some medium-sized developed members. The United States is too big and rich to be one of the former and lacks the historical links and experience to be one of the latter.

Doubts on both sides are fuelled by strong emotions, but they lack foundation in the world of facts. The Commonwealth is not a British operation and no one, including Britain, wants it to be. British influence in the Commonwealth today rests on the wealth and power that it, as one of several wealthy members, is prepared to commit to the organization. The Foreign Policy Institute, a think tank close to the present Labour government, has suggested that the Commonwealth secretariat might be moved from London, and the British government has severed its final links with the Commonwealth Institute, making the latter fully independent.

Nor is the Commonwealth a monarchical organization in any significant sense. The CHOGM in Durban celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the London Declaration, which, prompted by India's decision to abandon its dominion status and become a republic, made it possible for republics to retain their Commonwealth membership after independence. From that point on, the British monarch served only as a 'symbol of the free association' of its independent members in what is known as the modern Commonwealth.

Membership has not compromised the identities of the 33 republics that are already members of the Commonwealth, many of whom had a much rougher experience than the United States at the hands of British colonialism. Similarly, membership would not entangle the United States in the monarchial intimacies and imperial ambitions of London. On the contrary, Commonwealth membership would place it in an organization in which it was equipped to do well.

For this very reason, Commonwealth insecurities are harder to dismiss. While United States membership would change the Commonwealth, it is clear that, in the words of one writer in the Commonwealth journal, Roundtable, the United States 'undoubtedly qualifies under the IGCCM criteria. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Time for America to Join the Commonwealth
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.