Weekly Geopolitical Report – When Hegemons Fade (April 8, 2019)

by Bill O’Grady

In our Daily Comment report, a section on Brexit has become something of a regular feature.  As part of keeping up with developments, we have commented on nearly every twist and turn (or lack thereof) in the Brexit process.  In a recent WGR series, we discussed the Irish problem[1] and how it relates to Brexit.

As we watch Brexit unfold, one persistent theme has emerged—much of Brexit is about unresolved issues surrounding the end of the British Empire.  Britain was the global hegemon from 1815 to around 1920 (although the nation still thought it was in charge until the end of WWII).  Historians tend to view the shift from one hegemon to another as a clear, abrupt break.  But, in reality, faded hegemons tend to cling to elements of former glory.  Although global influence may have waned, the vestiges of power still affect policy and national self-image.  For example, Spain’s era as global hegemon ended around 1640 after wars with the Dutch exhausted Spain’s power.  Still, Spain held possessions in the Western Hemisphere until the Spanish-American War in 1896-98.  That war finally ended the Spanish Empire.

There is an element of Brexit that is trying to recapture former glory.  Sadly, Brexit may make it clear that Britain is no longer a major global power.

In this report, we will discuss the geopolitics of Europe and Britain.  Using this geopolitical analysis, we will examine the British Empire and how it devolved.  These two analyses will be used to examine the path of Brexit.  As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

View the full report

[1] See WGRs, The Irish Question: Part I (2/25/2019) and Part II (3/4/2019).