Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily international correspondent Anthony C. LoBaido filed this report from London on the changing shape of the British Commonwealth in the 21st century. LoBaido has traveled to some of the nations aspiring to join the Commonwealth, like Cambodia, as well as to former colonies and protectorates like Burma, Cyprus, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong, Jordan and Iraq.
LONDON — What do nations like Belize, India, Fiji, Singapore and Australia have in common? They are just a few of the 54 members of the British Commonwealth, a powerful yet overlooked player in the field of international trade and relations.
Far from being a tattered remnant of the backwaters of the British Empire, the Commonwealth is growing more influential. Moreover, new applicants to join the Commonwealth are coming in from the four corners of the Earth.
For the British, the existence of the Commonwealth has helped ease the pain of the loss of their once-mighty empire. There can be no doubt that no other empire in history left behind such a financial, cultural and political network. Not Greece, Rome, Germany, France, Portugal or Spain.
What is the Commonwealth, and why do so many nations want to be a part of it, especially during this time of politically correct decolonization? The U.N. has sought to strip both the U.S. and the UK of their overseas possessions, yet more and more nations want to join the Commonwealth instead of leave it. Two aspiring Commonwealth nations have even played host to the worst genocides in modern times. They are Rwanda (once a German colony) and Cambodia (formerly a part of French Indochina). Even the PLO has requested to join the Commonwealth.
Why such a strong desire to join up with a transnational regime like the British Commonwealth?
The reasons are legion. To be sure, the new religion of global trade plays at least a small role. Also, the seeds of Christian civilization are thriving in some member states in Asia and Africa — many of these seeds planted by British missionaries. Many member states speak English, and the English language is the global language of business and computers. The Royal Family is quite popular in many circles, and the late Princess Diana was the most photographed woman on the planet. Diana’s blonde, well-groomed, good-looking sons will no doubt carry on her mystique well into the future.
The power of British transnational corporations like British Petroleum cannot be overstated. Prince Charles is the head of the Wales Business Council, whose member corporations are on solid financial footing and wield great influence around the world. Controlling the mineral wealth of nations like Angola and Sierra Leone — where Blair dispatched British troops last year to protect the investments of British financiers — is also a top priority in the UK’s elite financial circle.
As demonstrated by Blair’s action in Sierra Leone, in the UK — as well as in the U.S. — big business often works hand in glove with the government. The Commonwealth is a great help to British business interests in this regard.
Then there is the lead Britain holds over member states in the fields of high technology, biotechnology, banking, marketing and the satellite programming of transnational media elites like Rupert Murdoch’s Star Network. Add to this the great popularity the world over of sports like rugby and cricket in former British colonies. Not to be overlooked is the UK’s military and diplomatic clout, not to mention the MI-6 foreign intelligence network.
In the shadowy outer reaches of the de facto British Empire are a romantic group not unlike Lawrence of Arabia and his desert nomadic fighters of World War I. They are the Gurkhas of Nepal. So feared are the Gurkhas for their soldiering skills that when then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched them to the Falkland Islands in 1982, Argentina pulled out immediately.
During World War II, the Gurkhas would crawl up to the Japanese sentries in the dark and cut the laces on their boots — just for fun. These days, the Gurkhas guard the Sultan of Brunei — perhaps the richest oilman on the planet. The hearty Gurkhas were also deployed to East Timor at the apex of the crisis in that nation. The cash payments Britain made to Nepal for the Gurkhas’ services were the third leading source of foreign earnings for that Hindu Himalayan kingdom.
Transnational mercenary forces like Executive Outcomes, Sandline and the Gurkhas combine to serve as a kind of “British Foreign Legion” shielded from the scrutiny of the British parliament.
There is also the Anglophile vs. Francophile issue to contend with when considering the strength of the Commonwealth. In general, the Anglophile nations respect the UK’s involvement in their affairs, as it is not heavy-handed like France’s role in her colonies. Many consider the French nuclear tests in Tahiti in the 1990s as a typical misuse of the French Foreign Legion and indicative of French haughtiness.
While British troops and mercenaries are deployed to guard the UK’s financial and mineral interests overseas, in places like Sierra Leone, the French Foreign Legion struggles to maintain both a mission and a focus.
Rwanda wants to join the Commonwealth based on the English-speaking Tutsis, who were massacred in the Rwandan genocide by the French-speaking Hutus. Tutsis who had been driven out of Rwanda sought refuge in Uganda, which led to that nation joining the Commonwealth as well. Uganda is a former British colony and was once suggested by Jewish Zionists as a possible homeland for the Jews.
French-speaking Cambodia has been rebuffed in its bid to join the Commonwealth. One reason is that Cambodia’s leader, Hun Sen, has close ties to Fidel Castro. Also, the Khmer Rouge, which murdered two million innocents at Pol Pot’s “killing fields” have yet to be prosecuted by EU and U.N.-approved judges for their genocide in 1975-1979. Ironically, Thatcher and former President Ronald Reagan armed the Khmer Rouge in the early 1980s to prevent the Vietcong from invading Thailand.
The Commonwealth also hands out numerous scholarships for bright students in member states to study in the UK. Much like the Rhodes program, these students will have their minds filled with pro-British ideals. These scholarships were suspended for much of Thatcher’s tenure. She was an anti-communist who supported the Christian anti-communist white government of South Africa, leading to the near collapse of the Commonwealth. Visa requirements for member states and rows over Britain’s entrance into the European Common Market also soured relations with member at various times over the past three decades.
Today, Britain remains over 90 percent white in its racial composition. The many Commonwealth member nations, however, are incredibly diverse in their political, racial and cultural makeup. Some are Marxist, like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia. Others are Muslim, like Pakistan. Most of the Commonwealth countries are non-Anglo. They comprise black Africans, Asian and Pacific islanders.
Many of the Commonwealth nations are former British colonies, like Cyprus and Canada. Some are former French colonies, like Cameroon. All in all, they combine to form a singular entity that cannot be overlooked as a ragtag collection of backwater states.
A complete list of the Commonwealth nations includes: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
For the sake of posterity, the grand history of the British Empire has been depicted in sweeping murals inside the British parliament. For most people, the British Empire has been relegated to the dustbin of history. But is this a fair and accurate assessment?
History of the Empire
In 1497, John Cabot set sail from Bristol, discovered Newfoundland and thus ushered in the beginning of the British Empire. By the 1550s, the earliest voyages from Britain to Guinea in West Africa began. In 1585, the first British colony at Roanoke Island was settled. All of these settlers disappeared under mysterious circumstances, with only the word “Croatan” left carved on a tree. In 1600, the charter for East India Company cemented trade with India and China. By 1639, Madras, today’s New Age Mecca, came into the British fold.
Cromwell’s navy took over Jamaica from Spain in 1655. Then in 1704, Britain took Gibraltar from France and much of Canada. In 1760, the British Empire added Quebec and Montreal. In 1788, Botany Bay, the first Australian colony, was settled by British convicts. After the Napoleanic Wars, Britain added Mauritius, Tobago and the Cape of Good Hope in 1815. Britain added Singapore in 1819, Burma in 1824 and Nanking in the Opium Wars between 1842 and 1860. The Irish potato famine of 1845 sent millions of Irish settlers to different parts of the growing Empire.
London’s statue of Queen Victoria is dedicated to the grand era of Victorian
The British Empire’s technological feats reached a new height between 1850 and 1910, when over 30,000 miles of railroad were built in India at the apex of the Pax Victoria. Today, Lake Victoria in Uganda and Victoria Falls in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe still remain. By 1872, British industrialist Cecil Rhodes set out to achieve his ideal of an African Empire “Cape Town to Cairo,” that was to rival the United States. In 1876, Queen Victoria was declared empress of India. Ten years later, the UK added Nigeria to the empire. At this point, it could be said that “the sun never set on the British Empire.”
Britain defeated the Afrikaners in the Boer War between 1899-1902. England became a protectorate over Egypt in 1916, and just after World War I, took control of Iraq, TransJordan, Palestine and southwest Africa (today Namibia). In 1926, at the Imperial Conference, The British Empire granted Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa autonomy.
Between two eras
The British Empire was broken up — along with the Portuguese, Spanish and French Empires — after World War II, with the prompting of a victorious United States. At that time, the name of the collection of nations was officially changed to the “British Commonwealth.”
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne and took her place over the Commonwealth. The Queen and the Commonwealth faced a crisis in 1965, when leftist-leaning black African states wanted England to send troops to fight against the independence bid of white-ruled, Christian, anti-communist Rhodesia. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson refused to send troops to fight against Rhodesia. He claimed that the black African states were “treating Great Britain like a bloody colony.”
However, the Commonwealth appeased the black African states by giving up permanent chairmanship to a new independent working group that had just over 20 members at that time. This little known fact only recently came to light when British intelligence papers were declassified after a 30-year moratorium on secrets passed.
The last vestige of the old Empire drifted away in 1997 when Britain’s lease on Hong Kong expired. Ironically, communist China had been willing to extend the lease for another two generations, but Britain’s diplomats were so eager to hand over the colony, China accepted it.
In 1999, the devolved parliaments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were introduced.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily, British Minister of Parliament Roger Gale said, “Tony Blair hates the United Kingdom. These devolved parliaments are intended to break up the UK into many bite-sized chunks, which are to be delivered to the European Union. Blair’s breakup of the UK has gone so far that under the present system of government, it is irreversible.”
Gale wants to introduce legislation to totally revamp both the House of Commons and the House of Lords towards an Americanized system with both a congress and a senate.
Other Commonwealth citizens have varying opinions on Great Britain, the Crown and the history of the British Empire.
A recent referendum in Australia to become a republic independent from the Queen was soundly defeated last year.
According to Australian David Barclay, who works at the Japanese Embassy Down Under, “There were strong feelings on both sides of the referendum. Australians used to feel more isolated until the past decade. Now there is the Internet and cheap airfares to connect us to the rest of the world. Still, the Queen is quite popular in general in Australia. Obviously, the majority are not ready to cut the cord with Great Britain just yet. But who can say what will happen in the future?”
Canadian English-as-a-second-language teacher Sheila McReynolds told WorldNetDaily: “Canadians in general don’t really consider themselves linked to Britain — especially when we are being flooded with immigrants from the Third World. They don’t share our language, religion or culture. But they do seek money and a better life. I guess that is part of being a citizen of the new global civilization. I think the British have achieved Cecil Rhodes’ vision to a great extent — only Rhodes wanted to develop Africa. Now Africa has been ruined by black self-rule, which makes it easier for the white nations to exploit it. It’s sad, but true.”
Jasmin DeSylva, a dancer from India, said, “The British did some bad things in my country, but also many good things, like the railroads, hospitals, churches, sports and schools. Wherever I travel in the world, children play the same games we did growing up. This is the British influence.”
South Africa policewoman Narina Coetzee told WorldNetDaily she still holds resentment against the British Commonwealth.
“By helping to put the ANC in power, Britain finally took back South Africa after Die Boereoorlog [Afrikaans for 'Boer War']. Even today, we Afrikaners have problems with the British. If I were to date a British guy, my fellow Boers would call me ‘Hans Khaki’ [the color of British uniforms in the Boer War] or ‘Rooineck’ [referring to the sunburn on the necks of British soldiers new to Africa in the Boer War],” said Coetzee.
“It’s almost like being a traitor,” she continued. “The Afrikaners will never accept how the British pushed the communists on us and how the ANC has ruined our beautiful nation with their Marxist anarchy. Thatcher tried to save us, but in the end, she could not. She was a great woman though, and the fall of South Africa to communism should not diminish her legacy in any way. In fact, it should strengthen it. She was right after all — the ANC is even more evil than apartheid.”
The power of the Commonwealth
While the image of King George VI no longer adorns coins that refer to him as the “Emperor of India,” the clout of the Commonwealth continues to grow steadily. The British flag may not fly over as many colonies anymore, but its financial tentacles are greater than ever, with banking outposts in the Isle of Man, the Bahamas and Nauru. Inside these tentacles rest the financial wealth of British puppets like Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. And if member states or aspiring member states don’t behave, the Commonwealth will send them to the corner of the classroom like an errant child.
Seemingly, everyone wants to play ball with the Commonwealth. While tiny Yemen wants to join up, oil-rich Nigeria feared being ejected for the anti-democratic, book-burning activities of its radical government throughout the 1990s. Fiji was kicked out of the Commonwealth back in 1987 after a coup led by Gen. Sitiveni Rabuka, but the nation recently came back into the good graces of the Queen.
These days, there are eight members of the Ministerial Action Group. This body oversees the behavior of Commonwealth member states. Nelson Mandela, who brought South Africa into the Commonwealth after his Marxist ANC took power in 1994, headed the group at one time. Nigeria was suspended the same day the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique was let in to the Commonwealth.
Mandela was placed in charge of the Action Group to oversee the sanctions against Nigeria to avoid charges of white racism. Mozambique is another ANC-aligned Marxist state.
Things were not always this way between the British and the Marxists.
For example, during the Thatcher era, relations with black Africa’s Marxist states were so poor that the Commonwealth secretariat was almost moved from England to Toronto, Canada. During this time, working behind the scenes, the Queen soothed the anger of the black African nations, assuring them that things would change in the future.
“The Commonwealth has real vitality and an extensive network that can be harnessed for either good or bad for about 25 percent of the world’s population,” says Tracey Kinchen, a former British MI-6 intelligence agent.
“It is a shame that the liberal governments in the UK bend over backwards to appease the Marxist member states,” said Kinchen. “Christianity, a republican form of government, opposition to world government by the U.N., a war on political correctness, assistance for non-whites who oppose communism and Islamic jihad should be the cornerstone of the Commonwealth — and the French Foreign Legion for that matter. Whites need to reclaim their Christian roots in order to be of true service to the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific islands. Right now, we’re on the wrong side of almost every battle. Why? Because economics have become our new false god.”
Adds Alan Harvey, head of the Springbok Club, a South African patriot group based in London, “White rule around the world has a lot more influence than people think. I personally believe that the white man will return to Africa and rule one day. Even now, there are blacks in Zimbabwe who want former white Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith to rule that nation instead of Mugabe.”
Why does the Commonwealth continue, despite the absence of a strategic alliance or monolithic trade structure?
Perhaps the answers lay in the fact that the Commonwealth works to establish harmony without too much over-the-top arm-twisting. It has no peacekeepers like the United Nations. It understands that in the 21st century, transnational corporations wield a great deal of power on the international stage — possibly more than nation-states and their governments. Member states, especially the poorer ones, look to the Commonwealth as an international organization large enough to make them feel protected, while small enough to meet their individual needs — be they more doctors or access to credit and development projects.
When the poet Yates claimed that “the center does not hold,” he couldn’t have envisioned the mutation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth. By letting go of her crowned jewels voluntarily, Britain’s long, lost children are at last begging to come back home, and have brought a few orphans along with them.