Leading Lights Going Out.
Three nations which used to inspire and are now reduced to shadows.
You will not need much prompting because the USA is on the list, along with the UK and Israel.
The American portrait is fully painted, and needs no embellishment. Four years plus of a presidency which not even Kafka at his worst could have conjured up, and a nation now mired in mutual suspicion, political corruption and terrifying isolationism with a new president who must be wondering what he can do to infuse or re-infuse dignity, compassion and decency into large swathes of the American population. It isn’t a matter of making America great (again). It’s a matter of making all Americans feel great again. So now just put your USA-made inwards-looking to one side, and consider …
Britain. By the way — The United Kingdom is not the same thing as Great Britain. The UK is a political entity which includes England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and any of the now minuscule territories in various parts of the world, still part of that Kingdom (which has been a Queendom since 1953, but never mind). That would include Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands for example. Great Britain is a geographical description of the British Isles, which, you will be alarmed to hear if your name is McGinty or O’Rourke, includes the Republic of Ireland.
Having been persuaded by a combination of lies and appeals to racism, and to a long-dead Imperial past, 52% of the voting public voted to leave the European Union in 2016, leaving 48% saying, “No-o-o-o, please no!” Four and a half years later, that divorce is now official, except that summing up the situation can be put as follows: Britain harrumphed out of the EU front door in high dudgeon, but has now accepted a “new” relationship in a trade deal that returns Britain to Europe through the tradesmen’s’ entrance at the back. Dependent on Europe, all but actually attached to Europe, but trying to pretend that it is not where it is. Sadness. Madness.
This country which, with massive and decisive American help (not forgetting the Soviets in WW2) defeated a rampantly nationalistic Germany twice in the space of only thirty years, fighting to liberate Europe on European soil, now turns its face away, leaving many thousands of British dead in that same European soil, in a Europe now mostly united in peace and prosperity. This country, this Britain, once a haven and welcoming refuge for the dispossessed from all over the world for centuries, now runs sickeningly with racism, intolerance and isolationism. This country, whose scientists and inventors gave the world so much and which, until now, was enthusiastically co-operating with European counterparts in new and better science, new and better inventions, now believes it can do all this alone. The light that once shone brightly from Britain is now a dim pinprick.
And then, Israel. An inspiration to the world in creating itself from nothing, healing Jewry of the holocaust wound, showing everyone what really tough but small armed forces can achieve. And now, with the deeply worrying Netanyahu intent upon quasi-imperial expansionism, land grabbing wherever he thinks he can get away with it. Deliberately alienating people who had every much as right to be there as they, the Jews, did.
Jewish radicalism which sometimes rivals or equals other brands, and all in the name of a God who must, should he be able to do so, wonder what he has done to deserve outpourings of such bellicosity and arrogance. Another beacon of once-goodness, now toppled over and almost out. On the other hand, fanatics tend to encourage counterbalancing fanaticism, and the Islamic world, or that part of it which wants to destroy Israel, is doing itself no favours by refusing to accept a fait accompli. God and Allah need to put their heads together and inject some sense, forbearance and tolerance into the heads of their devotees.
Three beacons of hope and light. Not so much any more. Just saying.