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Brexit - US-UK "Special Relationship"

21/06/2016 13:02 | Updated 21 June 2016

This week voters in the UK will make an historic decision that might have economic and political consequences well beyond their own shores.

The voters in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are deciding whether they wish to remain in the EU or "exit"... hence the name "Brexit".

Unfortunately for the rest of the world we do not get a chance to officially register our opinion or cast a vote in this historic referendum, although if they vote to leave we will all feel the pain of this monumental decision.

The same is true for this US Presidential election which also could have earth shattering consequences for the entire world.... and once again the citizens of the world cannot officially register their opinion or cast a vote in this contest.

In the post World War II geopolitical scheme of things both the US and the UK have taken on world leadership roles endeavoring to keep and maintain the hard fought peace that followed this tumultuous period.

These two nations forged what is now commonly called a special relationship.

This has also meant that Americans and Britons along with their NATO Allies have worked together in a number of ways to ensure both political and economic stability on a global basis.

The US - UK alliance in most instances has been a positive force in the world (although some will undoubtedly see this differently) and it has also been positive for the citizens of both these nations.

This is perhaps why the vote to leave the EU is so concerning... and Americans should be paying attention.

In fact, it is as concerning as candidate Donald Trump's pronouncements regarding his plan to have America step back from global leadership should he win the coveted title of President of the USA.

We don' t need to imagine what happens when these important Western powers fail to lead...just look at Syria and the immigration crisis.

It is this very crisis which has brought the EU to a breaking point. If the citizens of Britain vote to exit who will be next? Will the EU itself ultimately unravel and the EURO along with it?

When the leaders in the West relinquish their leadership... there is no mystery as to what happens - terrorists and others who wish to do the West harm simply rush in to fill the gap and the problems just get worse.

Engaging evil in the world is often not politically popular at home but is sometimes necessary... this is when real political leadership counts.

In today's world with challenging enemies like ISIS and Al Qaeda - who seek to destroy the Western way of life and plant enemies among us - isolationism is not an effective response.

The Brexit vote is about many things - it is about British Sovereignty, it is about feeling disconnected from those who pass the rules that affect daily lives, it is about too many rules and it is about a serious immigration problem that has economic, security and racial implications.

However, the campaigning and the focus in the Brexit referendum process seems largely to be highlighting one aspect which is the immigration problem that EU membership has caused in UK.

What most voters don't appreciate is that a vote to leave the EU will not necessarily solve this problem it may just send it underground. And once Britain is out of the EU it will have no say in European policies that might even make this problem worse.

There is no question the EU has its challenges however it does have one major achievement since its creation - the end of a tradition of wars in Europe and relative peace and harmony for decades.

The Schengen Agreement more than the EU itself seems to be the real problem.

We live in a different world today from the one that existed when the Schengen Agreement was signed - allowing for the freedom of the citizens of EU member states to travel, live and work anywhere within the member states without passport checks or visas and the elimination of real borders among its members states.

To this American it seems this Schengen concept was clearly modeled after the USA ... To create the United States of Europe.

Freedom of movement and open borders in a world where ISIS, Al Qaeda and others wish to end our way of life may be an idea whose time has come and gone.

Unlike the US where at least the Federal Bureau of Investigation - the FBI - does its best to prevent crime and terrorism in all 50 states while coordinating with each state's police forces the EU does not have a similar supranational institution.

So it is not surprising that the British might want to leave the EU when this part of the "union" is simply not working to control immigration or keep them safe.

However, the answer is probably to fix the immigration and security problem for the entire EU and not to let it simply fall apart.

It is true that Western Europe cannot absorb all the fleeing citizens of Syria...So the answer here is that military action against the Assad regime appears to be the only option to stabilize Syria.

If Syria was at peace its citizens would not need to flee and those who have left could return home.

On the overall imbalance of immigration between member states in the EU there are also countless ways this problem could be addressed - for example: with limits on annual immigration and related payments from member countries to ease the economic burdens.

However truly open borders where countries cannot check and track who goes in and out... and for what purpose...might need to become a thing of the past.

This is the same reason that "Donald's Wall" is so popular -- not even the USA - "the land of immigrants " - can afford completely unchecked immigration with both its monetary costs and potential security risks.

While so many voters in the UK are focused on immigration, the unintended and unknown consequences of Brexit could be a recipe for the next global economic meltdown.

The US and the UK are home to the financial capitals of the world - New York and London. And the leaders of the global economic sector seem to be holding their breath and covering their eyes in disbelief and denial.

If the voters decide to cast their vote to exit the EU their own self inflicted economic wound could hemorrhage throughout the entire global borderless economy.

London has been the financial gateway to Europe for decades - the intellectual brainpower to keep markets operating is located there.

Although New York and London have always been friendly competitors the sudden "exit" of London as the leading financial center of Europe would cause international chaos at best.

The US and the UK's financial systems are woven together and they are each one of the other's largest trading partners and investors with approximately a trillion dollars at stake - so the "pond between us" - cannot protect the US from the economic pain and uncertainty that a vote to exit the EU will cause.

Although there are other European cities who will try to step in - Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris and the list goes on, it will be hard to re-create the things that London and New York share...the "intellectual capital", the sheer number of trained people, the infrastructure and the sophisticated judicial system necessary to keep the financial world running.

So London and "The City" won't be easily replaced anytime soon... not to mention the fact there is no plan!

So as Brexit approaches and the US Presidential Election is not far behind, both UK and US voters need to think twice... not only about their top domestic concerns but also about what their vote might mean for the world that we all live in together.

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