Who lost Britain?
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Since the last days of empire, Britain, in what is oddly called the "special relationship," has been expected to be America's tasteful and submissive second; Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the intuitive sidekick to President Franklin Roosevelt; Mick Jagger, the edgy pal of President Clinton.

We assume that American dominance is not just related to the post-World War II conquest, but is eternal. It is our destiny. Britain will always go along. She is expected to. It is the price of victory in World War II.


The British crown may have a friendship relationship with 53 nations, one with 1.3 billion people. She also has a religion all her own, and not just an inspired storefront in the southern Appalachian hills; the religion of George Washington, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Charles Darwin, Bette Davis and my grandmother. But Obama is friends with Jay-Z and is said to have purchased a mansion in Hawaii which appeared in "Magnum P.I." So it's all good. It all equals out.

But watching the "hip-hop president" yucking it up in the White House this week with Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the thrones of the Commonwealth realms, I began to have my doubts.

Because this month, everything shifted in an inspired play by China. China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in October 2014 and invited Western nations and others to join, giving them to the end of this month to sign up.

Said in the Contributors section last Friday that Britain, reportedly without warning or consultation, broke with American leadership and became the first Western country to team up with China's new bank.

America had been lobbying Australia, South Korea and others not to join as it saw the Chinese bank to be in competition with the World Bank, traditionally headed by an American. Then shortly after, Australia said it would consider joining now that Britain had signed on.

"If Britain walks through that door, others will follow swiftly. I am sure Luxembourg and the French are next," Jörg Wuttke, the head of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, told The New York Times.

Indeed, over the weekend, France, Germany and Italy all agreed to sign on.

On Wednesday, this week, The Washington Post led with this headline: "China gloats as European nations rush to join Asian bank."

"In a commentary piece titled 'Washington, what are you waiting for?' state news agency Xinhua described the United States as 'petulant and cynical' for declining to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)," the Post reports. "It said the bank was open to all nations but said Washington's 'sour grapes' left it looking 'isolated and hypocritical.'"

"These moves are widely seen as a snub at President Obama's play to 'pivot' to Asia," writes Suli Ren in Barron's. "So far, China's President Xi Jinping has gone further with his 'soft power.'"

That is the big story here, and it is one which could well shift the plates of history. But what is also important is that Britain, with a singular, deft, diplomatic action, led the way for all of Europe and others to follow in direct opposition to American political will.

If history reads 1956 as the end of the old realm — when British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan sent his famous, enigmatic three-word telegram to President Eisenhower, "Over to you!" — it might in time recall this, the fateful year of the blood moons, as the moment of Britain taking it back.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.