tv Robert Tombs This Sovereign Isle CSPAN July 4, 2021 10:00am-11:01am EDT
>> good morning and for those viewers in the united kingdom good afternoon. i'm rob gore, president of the american enterprise institute and i'm please to be able to introduce conversation with professor robert tombs. i'm happy to announce that today's event we are beginning a new series of events at aei area that edward and helen before him. these forums will provide a platform to host prominent authors for discussions of their important new books on issues of national significance. i want to take this moment to thank ellen helen and edward for their support and deep commitment to our mission. since this storm will bring together leading speakers, professor tombs new book "this sovereign isle: britain in and out of europe" offers
much-needed perspective on britain'srelationship with the european community . these birds chose to leave in 2016 on the breakfast referendum and how leaders have tried explaining the outcome by pointing to political forces and economic interests. but professor toombs book takes a different approach moving his analysis in history and through that story he gained a new h perspective on britain's up and down relationship to its european neighbors. professor toombs is professor emeritus of french history at the university of cambridge, a fellow at st. john's college . thamong his many noteworthy books is one of my all-time favorites, the english and their history. in my view this is a bookthat needs to be in everybody's library . we are so lucky to be joined by such a celebrated author and historian and i'm going to begin the discussion by asking a few questions but
also getting a chance for professor toombs to introduce himself to us area in the english and their history you said of yourself that you were an englishman of irish connection who has spent most of his life studying france. what is that all about? >> like many americans including your president, i have ikirish antecedents so my not least of his. i have irish blood and irish genesbut i was born in england . in my student days i spent my time mainly writing about french history which i really got interested in and turned towards the history of my own countrywhite lace , very late inlife . i think my perspective on my own country has been one that you might see from the outside. i've always felt that it's one has to take a comparative review for it to make any sense.
>> turning to the sovereign aisle, one of the things in the united states, we are struggling with it appears to be part of the calculation going on in the referendum. it's a result of a leak. and i wonder to what extent is the brexit vote a product of that. tell us about theelite versus non-elite breakdown and how you think it's played out . >> my view of this may be slightly altered. i think the mistrust of the elite came after the when it became clear that a large part of the elites and that's to say elite very broadly, the political elite, the economic financial elite. the lobbyists that spoke for them. many of the serious newspapers, the civil service were determined to stop the
vote from being eifully carried out. i don't otactually believe that this was fundamentally a sort of populist rejection of the elite. in many ways it was a vote of confidence in our own institutions but i think it was a kind of role of the elites, the a significant part of the elites after the vote. i think that turned it into his sometimes rather angry response to what was seen as an undemocratic attempt work popular vote. >> that came out because the elites rejected the popular will . the popular will send now we've really got our blood. >> exactly. >> you do a lot of talking about history and the unique aspects of the uk in relation to europe and i'd d love to hear that deeper longer streak but i also was very taken by your writing about the different experiences of
the 20th century by britain versus europe and i wondered if you'd just talk about those oboth longer-lasting differences and also the most recent one concerning the result of where europe and the uk came out after the end of world war ii. >> i think like almost everything in life there are short-term and long-term causes. and it's impossible really to understand what happened without having some study of both . one is that the british isles since the 18th century have had a much more, much wider and deeper relationship to the rest of the world that i would say any other european countryand much more than most . many of our people , english-speaking people live more people, the more britons living in the united states than there are on the european continent.
but there have always been terms for the last two or 300 years away from the european continent . in part these in major cultural and economic sectors. that's the sort of fundamental underlay of this whole process. we were never committed to european integration project as the only possibility, the only future we had. wasn't the only future we had as we're showing this thing was as you mentioned which is very important which is a different experience of the 20th century. the 20th century was for every european a pretty horrible century. two world wars, civil wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing, or an occupation and so on we came that much better than any continental country. so i think what that really means is that most people in britain including a large part of the elites do not feel the kind of visceral commitment to european
integration which they see as somehow saving them from their own history. we don't need to be saved from our history to the extent many germans or french people would feel. they fear a return to the past which is threatening and dark. we don't have that feeling but i think the short-term factors too are crucial. in other words,the things that we talkedabout so far . the history .that could have made us very unhappy, discontented, semi detached part of the european union. but like other european countries would have had no way out . what made it possible for us to leave, we might have wanted to leave but we might not have been able to. what made us able to leave was the fact more by luck and by judgment we were not part of the euro you were part of the euro, you can check out
but you can't leave. but country like greece yoor italy which was suffering far more from european membership and we have cannot, simply cannot consider leaving because of the financial risk to the country as a whole and everybody with savings in the bank might find that their savings had been reduced by 50 percent overnight if they tried to reintroduce their own currency. i have no doubt that whatever historical reasons might have been for our leaving, had we been in the euro we would not have voted to leave. >> there's a lot there that you describe and i want to get to the topic of sovereignty but before i do that i want to follow up on your description of britain in relation to the world. and some people here might say well, britain it's true. it's had greater involvement than the rest of the world but by detaching itself from
europe it's neither a part of the unitedstates , neither a part ofeurope . it's not china. it's not, it has now made itself more alone and more maybe less powerful and less influential. what say you on that? >> you're quite right, that's a large part of the debate. especially among people who take an interest in foreign policy and the and assess the gamble that the pro-european side took back in the 1960s that we would be somehow stronger and even freer as part of a larger group. and that larger group had been working extremely well and you might think that argument has force. it's true that the people on my side of theargument , the pro- brexit side have made a gamble in the ability of the state to function. i would say lookat singapore
. look at hong kong. look at hong kongbefore recent events . but these small countries seem to be perfectly able to function in the world they govern themselves properly. the only place in which it seems to believe that this is not possible is cin your . at least not least you and i are old enough to remember about the union and pan-american unionists and panera union, none of those are happening and nobody seems to think they will many people in europe and india in britain still think that the only way to european nation and function is as part of a federation. and of course they tend to think well, like the united states.differences between europe and the united states are enormous. as we know. >> what is sovereignty and where is the line drawn smr there's so much in both of these books that kind of national pride and a national
extension common way of seeing the world area commonly of sovereignty. >> is that all part of this to and what is, why is sovereignty over your own, why is that, why is that so important. ? >> two, half of english, we don't forget that although i might directly talk about how our history shapes that. also a lot of people don't think it did and still don't. i think you put your finger on the difference. those who feel that national self-government is important partly for its own state and partly because when you become part of the larger group which has very little sense of solidarity and we seen itin the european union recently . you can't have a democratic
system. the best you can hope for is some sort of bureaucratic system run on your behalf i people who know better than you. and of course nthat's always been part of the argument of the eu and is one of the things i've never accepted but is that people are too stupid or countries are too small or the world is now a place in which you have effectively no freedom no sovereignty, therefore the best you can do is be part of the unit. the world slipped behind into twoor three blocks . i wesley but it did happen we would have to to navigate but i think it's partly if you want to live in a country which is based on a genuine sense of solidarity, a sense of some degree of trust between citizens and their politicians, you can only do
it on a scale of a nationstate. it can be a large nationstate or it can be a medium-sized nationstate like ours or a small nationstate doesn't seem to be working all well this international sort of would be nationstate that isn't really a nation at all. and people do not feel that there really part of the osame institution. and who's sense of control of their own lives and their own decisions have been more and more diluted. >> that leads me to the question of scottish independence andbolster . give us your perspective on those, do they deserve their own sovereignty and how does someone in the uk reconciled themselves to that? >> my fear in principle would be if the people of scotland
and the people of northern ireland want to become independent, we should not try to prevent them or punish them for doing so. i would regret it if they did . i hope we can stay together as the united kingdom but if that were to happen i think we would have to accept it. you could say the great political era was made by the united kingdom since its very existence was to refuse home rule to ireland because it was too late. wetried to hold on to ireland .gladstone's attempt to get home rule to ireland was defeated politically and then what happened then was a division through rebellion, civil war and the rest. we don't want anythinglike that . but i'm a bit of a heretic in that i think it was really membership of the european r union that tends to encourage separatism. if you're a small country,
you would think what's not to like about being like luxembourg or slovenia? we will be treated as an equal partner. we will be protected. we will have our economic policy provided for us . we will have difficult decisions to make and one day we politicians will be able to become presidents of europe . so one sees the same thing in catalonia but i think if you're a small nation, part of a larger nation you see europe as offering you a cost free independence. no risk and no penalties. i think now that we've left the eu scottish independence looks much much more dangerous than an attractive prospect and i don't think the scots are reckless enough
to go for it. i think i t.wrote somewhere that the scots would have to be the most romantically reckless ranation this side of the balkans to want to gamble on their future and i don't believe they will. once they thought about it. but ireland is different because of their divided unities. but in a sense the same logic applies.northern ireland is indentured to the united kingdom economically far more and for northern ireland to join the republic would cause both northern ireland and the republic huge economic costs and would pose considerable political dangers. after all a large part of the population of northern ireland is quite capable of fighting against the union with the rest of ireland. that's one of the penalties for our 19th century mistakes . so i think there is, unless
brexit is a terrible disaster which i think there is no sign of being scottish independence and irish unification seem to be less and less likely. >> were going to come back to brexit outcomes and i keep waiting for the disaster, it hasn't happened yet. >> the times doesn't expect it now. >> but before i get to that i did want to ask one thing that's on the mind of americans as we observe the uk and that is this remarkable sort of take over of the working class. by the tory party and by boris johnson. i don't mean take over, as sortof adoption or celebration . and if you can put that in context and also related to o brexit. it is is this about brexit or the more torydemocracy, what is it ? >> there is an old tory democracy area the tory party
is has had a large working-class element. and i think it's effective as people realize. certainly the united states and in other countries like france and germany, the working class is ngactually rather patriotic. the labour party for a time committed this kind of patriotic socialism if you like. patriotic semi socialism. for the last few years it's been losing its way it seems to me, many people agree with this. it's become the party of discontented minorities. of identity politics. of political correctness. >> people that are embarrassed of the flag orthe queen . >> exactly. and even when they try not to show their embarrassment, their enthusiasm is quite difficult.
>> ponies, you can see right through it. >> many working-class people, former labor voters feel the labour party has become a party of the metropolitan middle-class. one economist that it was the party of the public sector bourgeoisie andtheir teenagers . and that seems to be. it wins in london, it wins in oxford, wins in cambridge but it doesn't win in the part of the country that one is represented because it's no longer for the relatively poor and culturally conservative and patriotic people, and no longer stands for them. so i think the labour party has no future in britain. >> to follow up on that a little bit, i'm sure you keep an eye on us to. do you sense that the prime minister accomplished something in a more grateful
and more appropriate way than president trump? that he's captured this community for his party and yet he doesn't have all the excesses that drive peoplee away from him ? >> yes, and you put it very well. i've don't think anyone called mister trump donald. or joe, but okay. you treat your presidents differently from the way we treat our prime ministers . but mister johnson has clearly had a popular touch. people may not always trust him but they can't help but like him. though many people find him quite open. it's almost a political test in england, which petition would you like to go to the pub with an boris johnson is about the only one.
he really does manage to appeal to a lot of ordinary people, male and female. and that's his good luck and it's the tory parties good luck to cause with teresa may or a lot of the others, they wouldn't have that kind of appeal and he somehow has. and he's been lucky i think in the way that covid has turned out, partly with the help of our european friends who made him look good by looking so bad. it does seem the conservative party in england is going to be the hegemonic party for the foreseeable future. that of course to go back to your earlier question does create problems with our relationship with the scots because the scots don't like boris and they traditionally have not liked the tory party or many ofthem haven't .
so the success of the tory party in england does create another division withscotland . d >> now i want to turn because you do cover this in the sovereign i'll. the discontent with the european union within europe . and you describe that using poll data and opinion poll data in many countries. could you just tell us about that? their stuff but their unhappiness is just as strong . >> it certainly was in 2016. that's one reason why i'm cautious about explaining everything in terms of our difference from europe. we are all different. every country has its own history and its own particular strengths and weaknesses but as far as the european union is concerned, it was no more unpopular in britain than it was in holland, germany, and less
unpopular than in france and much less unpopular than it was in greece. and yet of course that brings us back to our earlier point area they can't do anything about it because the risks of leaving the euro zone are much too great. so although we were not so alienated from the european union, many people would regard as something you have to live with. we could if we wanted to leave it. i think many people in many parts of europe go they cannot leave it. and i mean, another thing is i think the turmoil that was caused in britain by brexit convinced many people in europe and perhaps rightly that they would be paying a huge medical price if they tried to leave. and i've said in the past if france tried to leave the eu you'd have blood in the streets which we didn't have but i think you would have major political crisis in countries, european countries trying to leave but they feel
they have no choice but to make the best of it. >> you talk about turmoil, that was political turmoil. the indecision, the difficult negotiations . prime minister mays inability to call the party together, all that but let's talk about the results. i keep waiting with some of the economic disaster area it complicates everything but is the uk suffering economically because of brexit now west and mark. >> what's happening with that western mark some, you know i hope and it was originally called briefings from brexit, not briefings from britain so we have so many economists there making very moderate predictions from the beginning. and saying that the effects in the short term would be of minor loss of trade with europe and of course that hasn't happened but in the
long run the effects would be so small as to be lost in general picture ofeconomic changes . essentially there were economic quantities and we always that i think the arguments for that were strong. that just seems to be what is happening but there has been some reduction in artery with europe. so as you say, the extent to which we view it as difficult to compute. but our trade with other parts of the world will increase. it will be our substitution from within the country. and i think the idea that there's going to be some collapse of the economy has just been shown to be absurd and always was. >> let's talk about maybe the troubling aspect of brexit. and that's immigration. so i wondered about that professor tunes. is there a oflatent zeno for
you in the uk that has driven this and how does that play out? >> it's a slightly strange picture because certainly part of the reasons for the vote was the feeling it was a true feeling that immigration from the rest of the eu was uncontrolled and indeed uncontrollable. and that it's been increasing very very fast. so you may remember that under tony blair's government, the official production was that i think it was 100,000 people would come from europe to britain looking for work and it turned out to be something like 400,000 or500,000 a year . and the effect on the country was quite noticeable. and for poorer people, they found themselves completed competing in the job market for housing. competing for social services with a lot of people who had
recently arrived. that was certainly part of it . and the brexit vote was strongly in areas had rapid immigration so you could say isn't that zeno phobia by devondefinition ? by all other measures, pulling data and other things as well , the uk is very unseen of phobic and although a lot was said about a crime and violence. which turned out to be either fictitious or vastly exaggerated afterthe brexit vote . . and we i think, the eu itself has done bodies of attitudes to people of other nationalities and other races so the british are in fact i think in the whole of europe the least racist and the least inotropic of all in regards to questions of
attitudes to people from outside. i think that'spretty clear . >> as the flow of labor been interrupted and is there a shortage in certain industries? is hotels, i mean, there's a theory that immigrants from other countries take up positions in certain kinds of jobs. is there a problem with that now or have the numbers s change western mark. >> the predictions were that once the people would leave and in fact they continue to arrive i believe in some numbers. also not on a temporary basis . the expect there will be problems in certain industries because we for a long time have not brought on other treating people, why would you want to trade all your goal to be a waiter when you can get a good waiter for less money from romania or poland or theczech republic .
so we haven't really been worried about this for some uitime. and in some industries become very dependent on cheap and actually often very well-qualified foreign labor. so we have to get used to doing withoutthat to some extent . >> why not give some attention to people who are natives? >> i think they have. >> so i think there was an attitude that certain parts of the country and i think you have the same in the united states. but certain parts of the country could be written off because they were economically depressed, they just you might as well forget about them and you could pay them social security or you could pay them, to keep them going. keep people alive they would not be contributing to society. they would be, you would not expect them to work.. you would write them off as the requirements and we did that area the government is
permitted to reversing that policy and ofcourse we will see what it actually does . it seems to start it off recently well but it's a huge task . which would need a lot of investment and cultural changes to. >> with outside of immigration and trade, from a practical standpoint, what, i always wonder. you view those europe bureaucrats in brussels, these people that knowbetter . and i believe in the debate in parliament there was a lot of talk of various picking on regulations with recovery and lives. >> ..
genetically modified crops are not permitted, but there are heavy restrictions on certain kind of financial businesses. so that's three areas of potentiall major growth that we would be held back on.e but i think in general terms the eu, it's reflexes are protectionist and regulatory, and the not to want things to be done for the first time. there's an old saying never do anything for the first time, and think the eu subscribes to that view. if you calculate the costs, even at the costn of the eu itself calculates them, they are quite heavy. there's a lot of h small-scale regulation which tends to depress economic innovation and
also tends to depress the labor market. it's too expensive or too difficult to employ people. >> so it is a freeing up, not only a return to self-determination but it's also for your markets, for your. >> yes. our chief minister for europe said the otherer day, by the way we are great admirers of his, we think he's in and who's really stand up for us on this. he said there's got to be a cultural change because government has got accustomed over more thaner half a centuryo following what europe does. to say nephew to have to do that anymore, doesn't mean they stop doing it. the automatic response be to carry on being as close to eu regulations we can. if you believe in free trade and an economic innovation, then you can't do that. you've got to look to new markets, into new industry. and to new ways of doing things
and that say well, we're doing what they do and that keeps us safe. this will take some time to change. >> so to more questions that consistencies of groups in the uk that perplexed me to this discussion. the first is the intelligentsia, academic. before he came on we talked about how historian andrew roberts and charles moore, are with you on this but aren't you kind of a loan at cambridge or at the big university? what's the breakdown of there? what's the debate been like? as a been unpleasant or difficult or illuminating? >> well, it's about 90% against me. ually quite difficult to understand. haven't given it a lot of thought as others have. it is partly it's a domestic
choice. it saying we don't like the people who want brexit. we don't like boris johnson we do not like nigel the leader of the uk. therefore whatever they want we are against. we do not want people like them running the country therefore we are against them. there's also a rather general sense the eu is a good thing. it's like the united nations. it's international. but as for discussion, and understand what how the eu works is very little of that. i did take part in discussion and cambridge in which the person who was speaking on the other side of the debate was a distinguished scientist said most of my come from the e of my research comes in the eu. for me it is a no-brainer. there's a lot of academics
it's in our interest we should say the eu we can get research funding and so on. which i thought was disappointing. you would think intellectuals with take a broader view than simply saying what's in it for me. i think there is quite a lot of that. kind of snobbery people voting for this are not our kind of people. self interest. >> superiority, intellectual superiority. an idea issued in favor of europe because it's a progressive thing to be in favor of and that mixture. not a very serious analysis they would often avoid their turn into issues.
>> great leaders of the uk spirit churchill, margaret thatcher, they took the uk into europe. isn't that right? how are the admirers of those people explaining this, this turning back. >> i think the simple answer is most people would say this, we set our site of the argument the way you have turned out as i will be expected. we didn't think this is what we are signing up to. i think this is naïve but certainly the case of churchill he was very ambivalent. he supported european federation. but britain would look on from the outside and give it
support. is not very clear about whether we should be members. as far as margaret thatcher was concerned something i remember she said she thought if you had a free trade in europe with light regulations he would not need the european commission anymore. so i think she thought the european union would sort of become a free trading area, which the british have always really wanted. in the superstructure of politics and regulation would melt away. but of course the very opposite happened for their two main branches of the conservative party. there's the party of business which basically says business and that you we should stay in the eu. there's national history, national tradition, national independence of which charles
moore is a very distinguished member. that part of the party was the pro. we can identify that with the united states very much in terms of the republican party as a strong business component. it also has this other component making its way be felt. very interesting to me. she was never happy. she brought along and talked into it, by the foreign office. most british diplomats because
we needed it be wanted to try to stop it from becoming more centralized, more federalist. we didn't want to have a foreign policy. membership was largely saying no to the other countries wanted to do. i thought that was not a very viable or sensible position to be in. not one that would last forever. you should be in it or be out of it. >> 's out now, we are willing to take questions but i forgot to mention that. they're supposed to be a banner on the screen so people can see were to submit their questions. there it is, submit question on twitter with # robert tombs at ai. look for those questions. we would like to have them. i wanted to ask you, professor tombs, have we covered at all? is there anything else you would want to make sure that you say to america to understand what happened with
brexit? >> there is one thing i would like to say. one thing that many people who are outside of the argument could not really understand and felt somewhat unhappy about with so many americans orly so much of the america mediate was hostile to brexit. we thought okay, americans will understand why we want to do this because americans will not themselves ever agree to being part of a pan-american confederation with its capitol in brazil. so i should expect us to? and the other thing is, a realization that the people in our site on the brexit side of the argument are much more friendly -- more friendly disposed towards america than opponents. and so innocence without sense without much of the american mediate was supporting a cause. : that's interesting you say
that. i'm not going to explain american media or general opinion because it is a tough one and it's not as if we spend all of our time thinking about the breakfast. certainly we are divided on it and have scholars on both sides but i do think in your longer history you do talk about the unity or alliance or potential
collective work of the english-speaking world and am i right about that, is there something to be said detaching from the european union and making relationships with the united states, the commonwealth stronger and it's not the uk alone it is in some sort of alliance with countries that may be more attuned to their perspective and history. >> it's never been isolationist. the fact is it's always been assumed that outside the eu, the anglosphere would be our natural context and the way we would get on the use of alliances and that is the reason i suppose many
have said it is imperialist nostalgia trying to build the empire again which is quite wrong and nobody thinks it is going to be a new empire. we actually have much more in common with english-speaking countries than with serbia or poland or slovenia. >> to push that a little further, if china is the principal challenge on the world stage the next 50 years, the uk being able to operate independently in europe which has been very reluctant recently to recognize that there is a risk and threat while the united states has been trying to lead a group of nations to sort of
stand against some of china's successes the uk would be able to help in that regard outside of europe and inside of europe. >> that puts in a sense the general case. supposedly we are stronger as a part of the eu but it's often extremely reluctant or resistant to doing the sort of things that we would like it to do. so it is a force multiplier or reducer. they realized you might say it's obvious but to become aware of the danger of china partly because of what has happened in hong kong and other things have come to realize they may be on the verge of a new cold war and
i think the answer is that probably is one of the things we would say we have no doubt. we trust most. >> we have an audience question with respect to scotland and northern ireland possibly wanting to leave the uk don't they realize they have to pay for their own clause and what are the costs of sovereignty for both, for those and others how do you ask that question? >> the situation is quite worrying. scottish nationalists who've never been a majority but are a large minority have opinion polls recently that show not to
sound patronizing but they are denying facts about their economic situation and quite a lot of them even say they don't believe the figures and statistics produced by the scottish government in other words the nationalist government has produced figures saying this is what the position would be after independence. scotland would be in a very serious position economically and financially if it left the uk. it isn't clear what currency it would have or if it would have a free-trade relationship in the uk. it would have to have a hard border along the border with england which is about 80% of its trade that goes across. in the short and medium-term it would be catastrophic for
scotland to leave the eu and some sort of have a dream they will go straight from the uk into the eu but that is by no means certain. they certainly don't mean to the financial criteria for membership and if the eu was to make a special case it would first of all be a very hostile act towards the united kingdom and i think many people in europe would find that very alarming. it's different because it is about the common relationships but it would cost as i said earlier it is close with the united kingdom so it would be a major economic upheaval for it to be part of the eu. >> on the scottish independence for a minute to make sure that i have the facts right for the
audience, there was a referendum not so long ago and it lost. there isn't one is scheduled now. if there was one is scheduled now with the uk leaving the european union they might chuckle but when all these facts are laid out for the people of scotland, my view is that it isn't such a clear deal that they would vote for independence when they see all the issues when it's debated as it should be and people would have to face up to it. there could be another loss for the referendum for independence. >> if you were a very brave prime minister you would say let's have a referendum right now. >> but she's not doing that. >> you have to say do they really want a referendum or to use the constant threat of a
referendum. someone said long ago it is a danger becoming a kind of québec which would be a constant friction between the scottish government and the uk government. many people feel we ought to change the way the constitution works but there is no agreement what that should be to increase the amount of power the scottish government has but at the moment it is largely dependent on subsidies from the rest of the united kingdom and it would have to explain to its people but so far they haven't done that. >> you mentioned you wanted to address the attitudes in the united states. do you have a perception of
canada or australia or did you get the sense that they were against it or for it in one way or another or did it matter? >> i don't think it mattered in the sense that the 2016 vote and may be that's right if you have a major political decision to make concerning your country you do what you think is right but of course barack obama came over and said we should vote to remain and people didn't. but i think my impression is profession isaustralia is a muce sympathetic than americans and probably more sympathetic than canadians and leading the politicians have said what are you waiting for. the problem here is the
protectionist lobbies in britain which are afraid of signing the treaties with australia and in the united states that makes the agricultural groups but we tend to think they are exaggerating the problem or speaking to small interested parties. >> we have two questions and i want to do both. first concerns your review of prime minister thatcher's successor giving over hong kong and the chinese government. did you see that as a mistake at the time and in retrospect? >> i thought it was inevitable at the time.
many people hoped the negotiation with a degree of autonomy would last at least for the indefinite future but it hasn't. it was a possession in legal terms but the territories which are the mainland part of hong kong were released and that came to an end and the water supply and food supply and so on came largely through that territory so you couldn't maintain without the consent of the chinese government and the government simply had to say it is now ours and there isn't much we can do about it but the chinese are not
going to allow that. >> the situation is tragic but it's also hard to pin it. the last question is from one of our scholars and will it already weak in europe in particular, germany, to take a turn for the worst now without the uk there to help them so to speak. europe is a concern to the united states and now what about that? >> i agree i think the eu has been going from one crisis to
another and it's been simply crisis management. that has been its major concern. use all it over the sovereign debt crisis and there seems to be no longer a sense that the eu is heading to the doctor and it's just trying to keep itself going, and its popularity deep down is falling since the 19 '90s that's where it hit its peak popularity and trust and i think for many people as i said earlier they believe there is no way out and somehow it has to be made to work but i agree there seems to be little sense of europe's role in the world and europe has the ambition to be a great power and have the power
to play a great role in the world but the member countries on the whole are not interested in this and to some extent as we have and the french have the sense that you are willing and able to take a line to the world you can't do it you end up having a pretend diplomatic service and foreign policy and pretend security policy but all you are doing in fact is trying to maintain the appearance. that seems for the moment to be its fixed direction.
>> it's funny and i listen to that. it sort of undermines whatever i still have admiration but it makes angela merkel sort of a master technocrat but not a visionary, not someone that sees the bigger picture. do you view her as a disappointment? >> i think in a way, yes. the problem is that as i see it, germany and the german people since the second world war have not had a sense of themselves being a major state, a major power which they are. they don't want to be the leaders of europe. they don't want to interfere with other people's business because of the terrible history of the third reich. and i think that germany is bound to be a political bar and
it's got to accept the responsibility of its own power, but it's people don't want to and it's politicians see no votes in that kind of policy. so you have reports of the german air force certainly has ten planes or whatever it is these various reports came out about the fact the german armed forces have been allowed to run down until they are practically nil. >> this has been a great >> well, this is been a great discussion. i greatly appreciated you joining us, or festive tunes. are as i say one of the great treasures of the world. i really believe that. the english and the people is spectacular. i hope we can host you hear personally at aei sometime in the future. to all our listeners thank you for joining us and i think we will sign off now. thank you very much. >> thank you very much for asking me. thank you for your kind words.
>> c-spanshop.org is c-span's online store. there's a collection c-span products. browse to see what's new. your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and jeff time to order the congressional directory with contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. go to c-spanshop.org. >> dv on c-span2 has top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. today live at noon eastern on "in depth" joint our two-hour conversation with pulitzer prize-winning author and historian annette gordon-reed as she talks about an american president, slavery and emancipation. her prize-winning books include the henningsen monticello, and her latest book on juneteenth. she will be taking your calls, facebook comments, texts and tweets. watch booktv on c-span2 today.
be with you today and so, so many ways to talk like a great book. >> guest: great to be with you again, senator tremor , lm excited to talk about your book just out, "preventable: the inside story of how leadership failures, politics, and selfishness doomed the u.s. coronavirus response" a great book. it's an insiders account behind the scenes look to say painful at times but a real eye-opener. there's so much we can talk about but let's jump right in and start with the big picture. what is the top line overview, 30,000 foot look, and why why did you write this book? >> guest: well look, handling to find in his heart and we all ought to be forgiving of kind of honest mistakes in people