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Much to consider in Clinton's words of warning on drive for independence

First Minister Alex Salmond has dismissed the general arguments made by Bill Clinton on the dangers of multiplying the number of nation states in the modern globalised world ("Salmond rejects Clinton fears", The Herald, November 24).

Having more rather than fewer independent voices in international discourse, each defending the local interests of its small nation, makes it more difficult to agree on actions that are in the global interest. This is an example of what is known as "the tragedy of the commons".

This plays out, for instance, in economic terms. Market capitalism is the most effective known mechanism for generating growth of wealth. However, in its modern globalised context, the inequalities in the distribution of this wealth are growing. National competition to attract a greater share of the action leads to a race for the bottom in the lightness of regulation, lower rates of corporate taxation and tax havens. Local interest is at odds with the global interest (for us all in the end).

Mr Clinton's point is that we need to focus more on working to serve, and to identify ourselves with the longer-term interests of the world as a whole. Mr Salmond's response is that Scots will display multiple identities, though an independent Scotland presumably will have just one single foreign policy, adding one more voice to the international cacophony.

Alex Salmond is the Pangloss of Scottish politics. When Scotland is free, we are assured "everything will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds". I don't buy it.

Alan Roach,

93 Octavia Terrace, Greenock.

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