World View: Scotland Faces Reality as Independence Referendum Approaches

World View: Scotland Faces Reality as Independence Referendum Approaches

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Scotland faces reality as independence referendum approaches
  • Venezuela expels three American diplomats after anti-government protests
  • United Nations accuses North Korea of ‘unspeakable atrocities’

Scotland faces reality as independence referendum approaches

On September 18, Scotland will have a referendum on the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” If the vote is “yes” thennobody knows for sure what will happen next. During the last tendays, two major issues have arisen to threaten the viability of an

  • Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne said that the UK would be unwilling to enter a currency union with Scotland, presumably meaning that Scotland would have to create its own currency.
  • Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said that it would not be automatic that Scotland would belong to the European Union, and that in fact there would be a long process requiring the approval of all 28 countries.

In the worst case scenario, Scotland would be an independent entitycompletely on its own, like nearby Iceland and Norway.

If the UK continues to refuse a currency union with an independentScotland, then Scotland will have three major choices:

  • Just continue using the British pound sterling as before, in the same way that Panama uses the US dollar as a currency and Montenegro uses the euro.
  • Issue a new Scotland pound currency and peg it to the British pound.
  • Try to join the eurozone, but once again, this would be a lengthy process.

Ten years ago, when talk of Scottish independence began, thesechoices seemed a lot easier. Since then, there’s been amajor financial crisis which has split southern countrieslike Greece and Italy against the northern countries like Franceand Germany. Even seemingly solid Ireland has been in trouble.An independent Scotland, whether in the eurozone or a currencyunion with the UK, might just end up being another crisis.

It’s not at all clear that an independent Scotland could become partof the European Union. Spain in particular is fighting its owninternal battle with its Catalonia region seeking independence, andsupporting Scotland might encourage Catalonia to fight harder forindependence.

The English and the Scots are as different as Irish Protestants andCatholics, or as Sunni and Shia Syrians. Scotland and England havegone through a number of periods of unity and disunity for hundreds ofyears.

The Battle of Bannockburn, on June 24, 1314, was a great victory forScottish forces against superior English forces. It was the climax ofthe First War of Scottish Independence, and established Scotland as anindependent nation. Scotland and England fought against each other ina number of subsequent wars, including the War of the Roses (1459-87),and the Armada war with Spain (1588). The most explosive war thatfollowed Scottish independence was the English Civil War (1640-49),that climaxed with the beheading of the English King in 1649. Therefollowed a generational Recovery Era when Britain had no King, butwas actually ruled by a military dictator, Oliver Cromwell, bringingScotland under English control, until a new King was crowned in 1661.During the generational Awakening era in the 1660s and 1670s, Scotlandbegan demonstrating against English control, culminating in theAwakening era climax, the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1689,making the Scottish Parliament independent once again. In 1701, thenext generational Crisis war began, the War of the Spanish Succession,which allied Scotland and France against England. Miraculously,England defeated the French army in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704,and then again in the explosive and tumultuous climactic Battle ofMalplaquet in 1709. After France’s defeat at Blenheim, Scotland wasfinally brought to heel, and England and Scotland signed the “Acts ofUnion” between the two countries, under a single king or queen,forming the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

It’s now been 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn, and thequestion of Scotland’s independence is rising again. Polls indicatethat the Scots themselves are slightly opposed to independence.BBC and Scotsman

United Nations accuses North Korea of ‘unspeakable atrocities’

A United Nations panel has accused North Korea of crimes againsthumanity, including systematic extermination, torture, rape, forcedabortions, starvation, arbitrary detention, executions, and prisoncamps. The police and security forces of the Democratic People’sRepublic of Korea systematically employ violence and punishments thatamount to gross human rights violations in order to create a climateof fear that pre-empts any challenge to the current system ofgovernment and to the ideology underpinning it. The institutions andofficials involved are not held accountable.

The U.N. recommends prosecution of the country’s top leaders by theInternational Criminal Court. This will never happen, of course,because China will veto any such attempt in the Security Council.BBC

Venezuela expels three American diplomats after anti-government protests

Venezuela on Monday gave three U.S. diplomats 48 hours to leave thecountry, accusing them of conspiring against the government to incitelarge, violent, anti-government protests.

Venezuela has the highest level of inflation in the world, 56%.There’s a huge crime wave, but 90% of the cases are never solved.Despite its oil reserves, there are shortages of electricity. Thereare shortages of most everything else, even toothpaste and toiletpaper. Last year, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new Vice-Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness, whose purpose was to coordinate anti-poverty programs,but apparently it hasn’t succeeded.

It seems likely that the disastrous economy is behind the new wave ofanti-government protests, which has led to three deaths in clasheswith police. Nonetheless, the Maduro government blames the protestson the United States. According to Foreign Minister Elias Jaua:

They have been visiting universities with the pretextof granting visas.

But that is a cover for making contacts with (student) leaders tooffer them training and financing to create youth groups thatgenerate violence.

In November, Maduro accused the United States of orchestrating aand Venezuelan Chavistas.” The world Bolivarian alludes to SimónBolivar, the 19th century founder of Venezuela. The word “Chavista”alludes to Maduro’s late predecessor, Hugo Chávez. When Chávez wasdying of cancer, he accused the United States of giving him cancer bypoisoning him. Reuters and Latin American Herald Tribune

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