It’s usual for foreign leaders to keep out of the internal politics in other countries. It is considered very poor manners to stick your nose into other peoples rows, but it seems Obama really cannot help himself. Yesterday he came forward for the second time to opine that it would not be a good idea for Scotland, a constituent part of the United Kingdom, to break away from the thrall of the UK and become a nation again.
Grief he even had his Press Secretary at it. Josh Ernest was poked forward to state that Obama wanted Britain to remain united and an effective partner of the USA.
Why the sudden solicitude? Why should Obama care about Scotland – this wet yard at the world’s end? The answer of course is that any diminution of Britain might bring some further headaches for Obama.
The most obvious, most immediate headach is the problem of Trident. This is the supposed independent nuclear submarine missile launching system based 35 miles from Glasgow in the Clyde. Not that it’s actually that British or “independent”. The missiles are dual keyed so that should Whitehall ever have a fit of the hissies and decide to nuke the French, the Americans could over-rule the firing instructions. Indeed as the navigation systems are American, should we ever get even slightly anti-Frog, Obama could simply turn the navigation systems off. These submarines are most definitely not ours in any meaningful sense of the word and certainly not under our sole control. In times of austerity they cost a fortune. Obama likes us to have these so that he can say that others in NATO have nuclear weapons too. This is why Obama is scared that come the weekend the Scots might simply drive them up the Thames, park them outside Parliament, and stroll round to Downing Street to drop off the keys.
A lack of a useful nuclear deterrent would threaten any rump UK from continuing to hold its seat on the United Nations Security Council, and be there to provide support and fig leafs for Obama and American policy. There are any number of other nations champing at the bit to take this seat, and none might be considered as reliable as the Brits.
Scotland also has a number of interesting listening stations monitoring Russian submarine movements in the Icelandic trench. With Putin in his present mood you can bet they want to be watching this passage carefully. This monitoring might be made more difficult with an independent Scotland.
Then there is the small matter of oil. An awful lot of wasted breath has been spent in the debates here about whether or not much oil worth the having is left in the North sea. Indeed the proponents have been very lawyerly in their language and specified “North Sea” all the time. But as the map below shows Scotland’s territorial waters for acquisition of oil stretch very far out, and far further than the North Sea reaching way beyond the Western Isles into the depths of the Atlantic. Which, of course, is where some very interesting rumours are coming from. Oil field “West of Shetland” and from the Claire ridge are said to be massive. Some say the biggest untapped reserves so far. A new fresh untapped North sea would, if there is independence, be Scotland’s to dispose of, and to determine who might get the concessions to drill. It will be a real shame if the American Oil companies have been greasing all the wrong palms these last few years.
So bear that in mind when Obama says “The British people [sic] will make the right decision in an in-out referendum.
Copyright David Macadam 2014