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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Britain's national sovereignty and online gambling.

March 28, 2008



Would Britain ever lose itself in the European Union?

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Regarding Stephen Webbe's March 24 Opinion piece, "It's the end of Britain as we know it": The piece completely misses the point that the Lisbon Treaty falls far short of making the European Union into some superstate. Instead, as Jan Zielonka has cogently argued in his book "Europe as Empire," the Union is actually heading to become a much more loosely jointed, diverse kind of polity, in which each nation-state, including Britain, will have a large amount of freedom of action.

This might well mean that Britain does not have absolute sovereignty, but then no country, not even the United States of America has "absolute sovereignty" anymore when capital flows, global climate change, and other global developments force countries, if they are anywhere near half-sane, into cooperation with one another. And that inevitably brings with it a certain investing of sovereignty, or pooling of sovereignty into bilateral or multilateral agreements or institutions. And one of the most successful forms of this has been, in recent decades, the European Union.

It is to the advantage of the British people to cooperate with their fellow Europeans. In my view the British government should have been more cooperative, not less, with its European partners in recent decades, but even so the British public has benefited greatly from the Union.

Steven Beller
Washington

In response to Stephen Webbe's recent Opinion piece on the Treaty of Lisbon: Does Mr. Webbe live in 21st-century Britain? The concept of independent sovereignty that he hankers for disappeared long ago as the British Empire started to fade – as all empires do.

The country's experience from both world wars and events such as the Suez crisis demonstrated our increasing interdependence and inability to act unilaterally in a perceived national interest. The European Union has its faults, but they can only really be addressed from the inside.

The Treaty of Lisbon does not create a federal state, though it may well be an evolutionary step toward that end in due course. Britain will change, but not overnight – it has adapted over centuries.

As for wanting Queen Elizabeth to veto the treaty, she has far too much good sense to try emulating King Canute's failed attempt to turn back the tide.

Diana Daly
Aberdeen, Scotland

Regarding Stephen Webbe's recent Opinion piece on Britain and the Treaty of Lisbon: I certainly share Mr. Webbe's dire concerns and have always wondered why England, or any other European nation for that matter, could elect to forgo their national autonomy.

Laura Gutman
Durham, N.C.

No Web gambling prohibition

In response to your March 25 editorial, "Don't fold on Web gambling ban": After thousands of years of human evolution, it should be apparent that gambling is one form of recreation that people will always partake of. Banning or trying to restrict activities that people naturally enjoy is more than counterproductive.

Education is the answer, not restrictive laws that do more harm than good. Eons from now, scholars will look back in disbelief that our society had legal drugs (alcohol, addictive prescription drugs) and illegal drugs, legal forms of gambling (state lotteries, casinos, etc.) and the hodgepodge of antigambling laws.

Prohibition did not work and neither will trying to ban Internet gambling.

David Moxness
Newhall, Calif.

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