Future commonwealth - The Republic is dead. This was according to the Sydney Morning Herald, after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and recent visit by the Queen to Australia. Republicanism has had a chequered history in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Most people support the monarchy, although sentiment has cooled in the last half century.
Republicanism would throw off the shackles of a bygone relic, some might say. There is a sense that - despite their ties to Great Britain - a republican form of government would make Australia and Canada just that little bit more like the United States. Why not? The latter has come to define politics, economics and culture around the world since 1945.
Ironically though, today it is Australia, Canada and New Zealand which look like the healthiest Western countries, not America. While the US is beset by unbelievable debt to a major geostrategic rival, Australia, Canada and New Zealand rank higher on the rule of law, corruption control, debt, crime rates, social mobility and quality of life.
They have been successful in straddling a mid-way between Europe's social democracy and America's red-tooth-and-claw capitalism. Attempting to mortgage their futures to Washington could be reckless for Ottawa, Canberra and Wellington. Even America's greatest champions like historian Niall Ferguson, think that America's moment is over.
Australia and Canada have both drawn closer to China and Asia. But much as Britain has drawn closer to Europe, there is a difference between have a trade relationship with one's neighbours and turning them into one's most important alliance.
Geographic determinism has never served as a good paradigm for international relations. If it was, India and Pakistan would have united years ago. In a 21st century where the trading of knowledge becomes as, if not more, important than the trading of goods, it behoves countries with common languages and institutions to cooperate more, not less.
Just as Britain finds the limitations of its relationship with Europe, so Australasia and Canada find the limitations of their relationships with Asia. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have each enjoyed well over a century of uninterrupted and peaceful constitutional evolution and economic progress, with its antecedents going back to magna carta. That legacy comes from London, not Washington.
The limitations of isolated nationalism are ever more apparent in the global community. South America is unifying into the Union of South American Nations, Russia is rebuilding its Eurasian Union, while China and the Arab world are flexing their muscles like never before.
And yet some would argue that this is the very moment to break up the Commonwealth? In favour of what: Europe and America?
Kathleen Brooks, writing for Reuters, hit the nail on Europe's head. Brooks claimed that "the bigger beast that threatens Europe's solvency is the demographic and entitlements crisis." Demographic decline in countries like Germany means that, "it is inevitable that living standards will deteriorate in the next decade or so."
Bailing out Spain and Greece is one thing, bailing out a welfare state made unaffordable by too few children is quite another. Continental Europe has too few children, net emigration and no appetite for further non-European immigrants.
Meanwhile, America faces a tsunami of costs once the baby boomers retire. Former US Comptroller General David Walker has been warning that America's off-balance commitments - in terms of social security and healthcare - will financially cripple the country, if nothing changes. If America's debt problems are not seriously tackled by mid-decade, the country could be past the point of no return.
In Washington, Paul Ryan - Chair of the US House Budget Committee - challenged US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on US debt. Ryan quoted data from the Congressional Budget Office to show that if nothing changes, US debt will be 900% of GDP by late century. Ryan said, "the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path."
This is a country with an unprecedented demographic shift and which knows that China is literally a few thousand days away from knocking it off its pedestal. The US is still a great power, but it will find it harder and harder as the 21st century progresses, to remain a unilateral great power.
China has already overtaken the US in net foreign assets (2003), fixed investment (2009), manufacturing output (2010) and patents granted (2010). Aside from PPP, it is poised to overtake America in terms of companies in the Fortune 500 (2016), real GDP (2018), stock market capitalisation (2020) and defence spending (2025).
If and when America loses its dominance, the US - like Britain before it - will no longer be able to unilaterally enforce its image of what the international arena should look like.
In a world where Europe and America decline in relative terms, making way for South America, Greater Russia and Greater China - what purpose does breaking apart the Commonwealth Realms serve?
About the Author