British Prime Minister David Cameron sounds mighty proud of himself for having carved out all kinds of special exceptions that will allow his country to stay in the European Union and its common market on what he claims are great terms. Others differ. France's president, for example, describes the concessions Mr. Cameron negotiated as only "modest."
Not all of his own countrymen are sold on the prime minister's plan to have the best of both worlds -- Europe and Britain, too. They'd rather be responsible for determining their own economy and destiny, thank you, rather than stay entangled with the bureaucrats and vested interests in Brussels -- the ones who keep churning out those ever-changing clauses, sub-clauses and counter-clauses. Not to mention appellate processes that can go on forever. When things went wrong, at least the British knew whom to blame: themselves. And whom to praise when things went right. It's called independence.
These dissenters favor what's called Brexit -- which is short for having the British leave the European Union and take responsibility for their own affairs, which is what other free nations do.
For who would call the European Union a great success? Unemployment among its young people is running at 48 percent in Greece, 46 percent in Spain and 38 percent in Italy as once national economies with their own national currencies sputter and stall. And the Germans grow increasingly tired and exasperated at having to pay the bills other nations run up.
Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady herself, saw all this coming, as she did so many things. Early on she spoke of the attempt to create a European super-state as "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era." How, after all, impose one currency, one economy and one national identity on such different countries with such different histories, languages, customs and cultures in general? The answer: Don't. Because you can't. Lady Thatcher called it years ago.
The lady and Lady is sorely missed, for she had a way of speaking truth to expediency -- no matter how many trimmers and compromisers preferred to avoid the hard choices. Something tells us that all the Tony Blairs with their Third Ways will be forgotten long before Margaret Thatcher. She understood that it wasn't her power she was out to save, but the power of her ideas.
Lady Thatcher never hesitated to remind others that some hard truths could not be evaded but had to be faced -- and ought to be. When others in her cabinet urged her to compromise, she made it clear that "the lady's not for turning." Her exact words when addressing an American president who was dallying with one aggressor or another in the Middle East escape us, but her meaning was clear enough: "George, now is no time to go wobbly."
Even while intriguers like Alexander Haig in the White House were trying to keep her from acting like the Iron Lady she was, she dispatched an armada across the Atlantic to take back the Falklands after Argentina had seized those islands. And saw the mission through to improbable victory, demonstrating that the British lion had not been reduced to a mouse after all.
Once the junta in Buenos Aires had seen its prize warships blown out of the water with heavy losses, it was unable to hold onto either its popularity or power. The colonels wouldn't be the first or the last to learn that it didn't pay to mess with Lady Thatcher. No, she might not always prevail, but she understood that more important than winning is to stand for something. She did. And still does.
No wonder many of her countrymen are doing the same by coming out for Brexit. For how many Americans -- or Canadians or Mexicans -- would agree to erase the borders between their countries and establish a new Supreme Court to decide all cases dealing with human rights?
Conclusion: Hail Britannia! The free, independent, proud nation and empire she championed. The mother country we're descended from. And home of the mother tongue we still speak. That you're reading this newspaper in English says all that needs to be said about how much the English-speaking peoples around the world have to lose if Britain doesn't stay British.
Comment by clicking here.
Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.