Daniel Hannan: Obama's Disinterest in Western Values Diminishes US

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 03:53 PM

By Courtney Coren and David A. Patten

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The English-speaking world is responsible for the proliferation of what's come to be known as Western values — personal liberty, small government, individualism — and Barack Obama is the first U.S. president who feels nothing for those values, conservative British politician Daniel Hannan tells Newsmax.

"This is probably the first occupant of the White House who feels absolutely nothing for [these exceptional ideas and their origins]," Hannan says in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

"Even the earliest presidents . . . saw themselves as part of a very old, English, liberal tradition . . . They didn't think they had invented liberty in 1776. They saw themselves as part of a centuries-old patrimony that went back to the English Bill of Rights, back to the Magna Carta," he said Friday.

Story continues below video.

"This is the first time that we've had somebody who has no sense of that at all," Hannan says. "If these things no longer define its politics, then America is devalued. It comes to look like anywhere else."

Hannan is a British member of the European Parliament who was first elected in 1999 at the age of 27. He recently published the book "Inventing Freedom: How the English Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World."

He argues in the book that the world ought to appreciate British colonialism and the emergence of the United States as a superpower.

"The ideals of the Anglosphere are not brought on by intimidation, they're passed on by intellectual exchange, and they can take you anywhere," he says. "The Anglosphere is why Bermuda is not hated. The Anglosphere is why Hong Kong is not China, why Singapore is not Indonesia."

Hannan explains that the term "the West" really refers to countries that have adopted the values of freedom and liberty that have been proliferated from the English-speaking world.

"When you use the word 'the West,'" we're really being polite," he explains. "What we really mean by 'the West' is countries that adopted the Anglo-American system of government, the virtues that you reeled off in your question — personal freedom and equality before the law and regular elections and all those things — they are not the natural condition of an advanced society."

These ideas are what makes the West exceptional, Hannan says.

"If we uniquely had a civilization that stumbled upon this Anglosphere, that the law was above the government rather than the other way around . . . think of how radical it was when you first had that idea," Hannan says. "It was this concept that you couldn't touch or taste or smell, but it was bigger than the king, bigger than the strongest guy in the tribe, and it's bound everybody equally.

"The state was the servant of the individual rather than the other way around," he says. "That in a way is Anglosphere exceptionalism, and we make a mistake because we think that everyone is going to get there through a process of power or evolution."

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