Lord Patten on the new world order

Lord Patten on the new world order Lord Chris Patten

TOKYO —

Confronted by fears over the future of Britain and its relationship with the European Union, as well as the seemingly inexorable rise of China and the consequent contraction of the United States, Lord Chris Patten of Barnes is more sanguine.

Common sense will prevail in the UK, he believes. The decline of the U.S. is much exaggerated, and China, for all is bombast, faces some serious issues in the immediate future.

At the invitation of Ambassador Tim Hitchens, Lord Patten spoke at the British Embassy in Tokyo as part of a series of lectures featuring prominent British political leaders, thinkers and artists.

Following his role in the 1980s as a minister in the cabinets of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Patten served as chairman of the Conservative Party for two years from 1990.

He then became Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong — where he was affectionately known as Fat Pang — until the territory was handed back to China in 1997. Subsequently, he served as European commissioner for external relations. Patten is the chancellor of the University of Oxford and, since 2011, has been chairman of the BBC Trust.

Patten prefaced his speech by mentioning how, while some say we have never lived in more dangerous times, he grew up in the darkest days of the Cold War and the threat of “mutually assured destruction” posed by nuclear weapons.

“When I went up to Oxford in 1962, my first term coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world teetered on the edge of nuclear Armageddon”, Patten said. “So it is difficult for me to accept that we live in a world that is more dangerous than that”.

He agreed, however, that, “We do live in a more uncertain and less stable world than the one dominated by the international security strategies of the US and its partners, along with the Soviet Union”.

The demise of communism in the Eastern Bloc, the emergence of non-state actors, intense regional conflicts, a waning of Washington’s influence and the potential fragility of the global economic system, as demonstrated by the Lehman shock, mean that “we now live in a very different world”, he said.

“It is no longer economically and politically dominated by the trans-Atlantic partnership and Washington’s relations with Japan”, he said. “Certainties have been shredded”.

Whereas the U.S. accounted for 38% of global gross domestic product when Patten first visited the country in 1965, that proportion had declined to 30% in 2000, and 23.1% by 2010. In tandem with the decline, China has been rising on the back of a cheap workforce and overhead costs.

But he does not believe the economies of the rest of the developed world are played out and that China will be the undisputed victor in the 21st century.

That, he said, is the declinist argument.

“The U.S. remains an astonishingly successful economy and, more than any other, is able to turn technology into highly profitable corporations”, he said. “We have also seen the re-emergence of the US manufacturing industry; that will pick up speed as the U.S. becomes energy-independent from fracking”.

He added that a growing population, 42 of the best 50 universities in the world, and the ability to attract the “best and the brightest” will continue to mean that “the United States is the only country that matters everywhere”.

“It may not be able to get its own way on everything, like it did in the past, and maybe it cannot dominate the international agenda as it once did, but it is impossible to think of an economic, military or security issue that can be solved if the US is not involved”, he said.

Turning to the situation in Europe, Patten pointed out that, while the continent accounts for around 7% of the world’s population and 25% of global output, that is overshadowed by its 50% of global spending on social services.

On a more positive note, the most recent forecasts suggest that Britain is likely to have the largest economy in Europe by 2040, although Brits still have a love-hate relationship with the single currency and the EU in general.

“We joined the Common Market later than we should have done and we’ve been struggling ever since with some of the institutions that were created before we joined”, he said.

“There has also been a reluctance to fully engage with the single market, because it is seen as “a lamentable intrusion into our national sovereignty”, he added.

Nevertheless, should Britain’s participation in the EU be put to a referendum, Lord Patten is optimistic of the outcome.

“My own view is that those who want us to leave the EU should listen to the evidence put forward by our friends in the U.S. and Japan”, he said. “The conclusion is that it would be a pretty rum thing for us to do”.

  • -1

    Dennis Smit

    new world order!!!!! without the investments of japan europe and america there would never have been an growing china, now the jobs are being broad back and china faces the consequences of over mass production, there will be a big downfall. maybe as it is not clear what is really going on in that country china is really falling down allready for many years. for 4 years allready the people from the countryside who allway's worked in the city have no jobs there, besides china has so many loans standing out which can never be repayed, that they will face oure crisis of the last years in the coming years. this may wel lead to the total colapse of the china as we now know it and hopefully it will!!!! the biggest economy by far is the european union followed by america and japan as china has the same income but ten times more people so what are we talking about, india also would rise but if japan does not invest it will not come, it's all nice stories but the reality is it will never be!!!!

  • -1

    davidake

    Hope your wishful thinking can realised.

  • 3

    zichi

    as a minister in the cabinets of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Patten served as chairman of the Conservative Party for two years from 1990.

    “When I went up to Oxford in 1962,

    When it comes to Britain, there's no new world order and the centuries old class system remains in place at great cost to most of the hard working people. The unelected upper house or House of Lords remains weakened but still very much in place.

    Overpaid serious BOF's who really need to be put out to grass.

    Paid trip to Tokyo for the price of a couple of speeches, not bad work if you can get it.

  • 1

    sangetsu03

    Unfortunately, common sense seldom prevails. The ills of the world are mostly a result of a near absence of common sense among people and governments. It is common sense not to spend more than you earn, yet governments have spent themselves into nearly overwhelming debt. It is common sense not to buy things which you cannot afford, yet hundreds of thousands of Americans bought homes and other things which they could not afford, borrowing money from banks who didn't have the common sense to deny loans to people with low incomes and poor credit. It is common sense not to have several children when you don't have the means to feed yourself. The US congress has an approval rating of only 17%, it would be common sense for the people to take the trouble to vote the bums out, yet more than 90% of incumbents will somehow be reelected.

    Common sense will not prevail for the simple reason that it never does.

    There is no "new world order". As Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun."

  • -2

    Nat Turner

    What's up ?, it's a simple thing to see, the BRICS are stepping forward, and, the old world is falling behind.

  • 1

    notasap

    Actually BRICS are all very much in economic hard times right now, except C which is not nearly as big as they claim to be. In fact the developing world is not going to eclipse the US or the US any time soon.

  • -1

    CrisGerSan

    I fear the Lord is out of touch with the danger to the UK from massive invasion of illegal and indigent third world invaders who have decimated British culture in some of the major cities. They do NOT merge with the base culture nor can they. The Lord ignores this while he presides over the BBC which has become a stalking horse and a megaphone for the liberal facist elilte forcing deviant rights and supporting the very immigrant invasion that is destroying Britian and many of the other European countries. As for the Common Market and now the neo facist EU, it is another elite of beauracrats with no national affiliation other than their own new "system" trying now to colonize other areas like the Ukraine with NO justification other than their own search for power. I hope the Lord wakes up along with some of the other european nations before Europe and the UK become Neo Africa and Neo India. ...just as much of the southwest USA is almost now Neo Mexico. At least Japan has its head on straight and needs no advice from a puppet for the neo elite of the UK who are presiding over the near death of one of the finest European cultures.

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