A Plaintive & Racist Wail? Bloomberg’s Micklethwait on “Anglosphere”


On Friday, December 7, 2018, Richard Haass tweeted what we termed as a dirge of the global elite:

  • Richard N. Haass ‏Verified account @RichardHaass Dec 7 – In an instant Europe has gone from being the most stable region in the world to anything but. Paris is burning, the Merkel era is ending, Italy is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the EU, Russia is carving up Ukraine, and the UK is consumed by Brexit. History is resuming.

To us, this was such a window into the soul of the global elite that we wrote an article titled Friedman, Plato & Trump vs. Think Tanks, Richard Haass, Macron & Bloomberg?

Whatever else Richard Haass may be, he is neither plaintive nor does he wail in his writing about his sadness. And why should he? America, his country, is still the richest, the most powerful & the most dominant country in the World.

That sadly is not true of John Micklethwait, a British Journalist who is now the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News. Prior to that, he was the editor-in-chief of The Economist from 2006 to 2015. And his old view, now transferred to Bloomberg, is responsible for the plaintive wail we can hear in his opinion piece Is This the End of the Anglosphere?

What is this Anglosphere, you ask? No, it doesn’t mean the “Anglo” societies around the world such as Australia or New Zealand. Micklethwait doesn’t include them in his “Anglosphere”. Kinda like Hitler who only considered Germans & English as truly “white” people, not Americans or the rest of “white” Europe? Look how he defines his term:

  • “By “Anglosphere,” this pontificating Anglo means something narrower than the fifth of the world that speaks English; this is about the U.S. and Britain. And yet it’s a definition that is also meant to encompass something much more powerful and evangelical than the tweedy “special relationship”.”

Micklethwait uses his “Anglosphere” term to claim credit on behalf of Britain for just about everything America has done both in & for the world. In doing so, he claims credit for something we have never heard of from any one else:

  • The recognition that Silicon Valley had such a hold on technology only added to this sense of inevitability [about the desire to be more Anglo]“.

A great number of people in the world admire Silicon Valley & want to emulate the success of Silicon Valley. But every one of them knows it is an All-American phenomenon. Think! Who on earth would be motivated to be British because they admire Silicon Valley?

Another credit Micklethwait claims for Britain is for helping to “pull a billion people out of poverty“. This is, perhaps, an even greater reach of desperation on Micklethwait’s part. He should go back & see what British Mercantilism did to the rest of the world. American economic policy has been utterly opposite to what Britain did when the British Pound was the globe’s reserve currency. Frankly, Britain’s contribution was to put hundreds of millions of people in the world into abject poverty & to plunder their wealth. It took post-WWII America to reverse that policy as the Dollar became the reserve currency of the world.

You don’t have to go far to see what America thought of pre-WWII British. Look up what President FDR, America’s most transformational President of the 20th century, said about the British Empire & its colonies. In fact, pre-WWII America distrusted the British Empire to such an extent that America demanded control of British naval bases before beginning aid to war torn Britain. In other words, Britain had to virtually cede its global naval presence to America to get America to save it from Germany.

In the 120 years between Britain burning down Washington DC in 1812 & the second World War, Britain was almost a wary competitor, if not an outright enemy, of America.  Only after America & Russia wiped out Hitler’s evil regime and America defeated Japan, did Britain began claiming what Micklethwait terms the tweedy “special relationship”. 

Imagine what would have become of Britain in the 1950s & beyond but for America. Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Just look at the Dutch who owned Indonesia before WWII & the French who owned colonies in Africa. Britain was desperate to avoid that fate & so Britain made itself into America’s closest & “special” ally.

And indeed Britain was so because it served America’s post WWII- interests. Having a Britain bound into an almost-servile “special” ally status kept the Atlantic as an American lake and gave America a key ally to ensure that a United Europe does not rise to challenge America economically or politically. The pinnacle of this “special” relationship was the Reagan-Thatcher period. As Micklethwait rightly observes,

  • A half-century ago, Britain was certainly America’s closest ally, with strong historical, military and personal ties and a shared aversion to communism and the Soviet Union.”

But Micklethwait doesn’t stop there. In his desperate attempt to claim credit for Britain, he writes:

  • “Tony Blair and Bill Clinton; Blair and George W. Bush; David Cameron and Barack Obama — a succession of youngish prophets walked the world, telling people what to do, with various degrees of smugness.”

America was & is often viewed as arrogant but never smug. Because, according to Merriam Webster Thesaurus, “smugness” is somewhat synonymous with “unjustified”. On the other hand, calling British leaders traveling the globe under America’s mantle as “prophets” is correctly described as “smug”.

And has Micklethwait forgotten that even the British Press termed Tony Blair as President Bush’s poodle? And who in the world thought Tony Blair was on par with President Bill Clinton? 

That brings us to David Cameron. Kudos to him for going back to the classic opportunism of old Britain, its old habit of discarding relationships to pursue newer, seemingly more lucrative relationships. Wasn’t Cameron’s Britain the first NATO “ally” to join the new China-created World Bank competitor despite the pressure from President Obama to not do so?

So how would Micklethwait have described the new “special relationship” between China & Britain had China really become the economic giant Cameron thought it would? Would Micklethwait have created a term like “SinoBritsphere” or a more accurate term like “Mercantosphere” for the China-Britain mercantile alliance?

Let’s move up to 2016. Which country’s intelligence service was deeply involved in an attempt to damage the credibility of President Trump? Which country’s agents built a false dossier on President Trump? Micklethwait’s “Anglosphere” partner named Britain.

Which American “ally” is the only country in NATO to take the side of Huawei, the Chinese networking company America is trying to uproot from networks of America’s allies? Once again, Britain, the country Micklethwait deems to be an inseparable & critical component of his “Anglosphere”.

Let us be clear. Our contempt of Micklethwait & his desperate wail to beg some degree of equality between USA & Britain does not extend to Britain as a country. That country still has assets & a “soft” presence that is of value to America. So continuing to reaffirm a “special relationship” between America & Britain remains an important American interest, at least for now.

But claiming Britain as a semi-equal contributor to America’s global success & power is utterly nuts. Sadly, the British Press is right. Today’s Britain is just about a poodle-like ally in America’s sphere with no place to go but down.

If he has any doubts, Micklethwait should read the above-quoted tweet of Richard Haass. He will notice Haass lists his UK at the end of the tweet, after Europe, Paris, Merkel, Italy & Russia.

“Anglosphere” indeed! And from the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News? What will proud French-German-Italian-Polish-other European-Americans, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asian-Americans think of Democratic Presidential Candidate Michael Bloomberg once they hear of the racist-sounding “Anglosphere” concoction of Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief? Can you even imagine Mr. Bloomberg trying to publicly disassociate his campaign from Bloomberg News?

Wake up Presidential Candidate Bloomberg. The worst enemies of your campaign might be inside your own organization that bears your name.


Editor’s PS: In the tradition of Macro Viewpoints, we will invite Mr. John Micklethwait to tell us where we might be wrong in our analysis of his opinion article Is this the end of “the Anglosphere”? We will publish verbatim any public response from him. We will also extend to him the courtesy of publishing his critique of our own analysis if he chooses to write one.


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