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Scottish independence could prove a complication for Obama administration

Scots celebrate 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn
Scots celebrate 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

With the Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other intractable problems keeping Obama administration officials up at night, the Washington Examiner suggests that a new problem lays on the horizon, that being the prospects of Scottish independence. The Scotsman, in a Monday story, however indicates that a vote for independence is very much in doubt, with a plurality of 48 percent being against with 41 percent being for separation from England. A large number of Scots remain undecided.

The drive for Scottish independence is as driven by centuries old antagonisms as it is by the feeling among many Scots that the London government is too remote and unresponsive to Scottish needs. On the other hand many other Scots are hesitant about ending the three centuries old union with England, fearing economic and political consequences. Scottish independence might also spark an exodus of up to 700,000 largely English speaking Scots.

From America’s perspective the question provides lots of room for missteps. On the one hand, Great Britain is one of America’s oldest allies. On the other hand, America has a lot of cultural and even ethnic ties to Scotland. Officially the Obama administration is choosing to remain neutral, particularly since any statement by American government officials is seized upon by one side or another as signs of support.

Clearly it would be in the best interests for the United States for the United Kingdom to remain united. An independent Scotland would demand the removal of Britain’s nuclear arsenal, an expensive prospect at best. It is also unclear whether Scotland would be as friendly an ally as Great Britain has been. Will Scotland apply to join NATO or would it choose to remain neutral? The prospect of Scottish independence would prove to be just another complication is a world that has become just a bit too chaotic for safety.