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I do not know what to make of President Obama’s visit to Britain. He was well feted by our government. He unusually was provided with an apartment in Buckingham Palace whereas most presidents in the past have stayed at the American Embassy. He was also the first American president to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall, built in 1097, which was the seat of the monarch and the birthplace of British justice. In return he reiterated the value of the “special and essential relationship” and apologised for the delay in recognising it.
A Daily Telegraph correspondent, based in Washington, recently listed some insults coming out of the Washington administration. These are some of them:
1. Siding with Argentina over the Falklands.
For sheer offensiveness it’s hard to beat the Obama administration’s brazen support for Argentina’s call for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands.
2. Calling France America’s strongest ally
In January this year, President Obama held a joint press conference at the White House with his French counterpart, literally gushing with praise for Washington’s new-found Gallic friends, declaring: “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.”
3. Downgrading the Special Relationship
Barack Obama very rarely refers to the Special Relationship, and has hardly even mentioned Britain in a major policy speech, either before or since taking office. London is now treated in Washington as though it were the same as any other European power, albeit less charitably than either Paris or Berlin.
4. Supporting a federal Europe and undercutting British sovereignty
The Obama administration’s relentless and wrongheaded support for the creation of a federal Europe, from backing the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Security and Defence Policy, is a slap in the face for the principle of national sovereignty in Europe.
And the US Ambassador to London, Louis Susman, has warned Britain that “all key issues must run through Europe.”
5. Placing a “boot on the throat” of BP
The Obama administration’s relentless campaign against Britain’s largest company in the wake of Gulf oil spill was one of the most damaging episodes in US-UK relations in recent years, with 64 percent of Britons agreeing that the president’s handling of the issue had harmed the partnership between the two countries according to a YouGov poll.
6. Undermining British influence in NATO
Despite Nicolas Sarkozy’s distinctly unflattering opinion of Barack Obama, the US president has gone to great lengths to appease French interests. This, despite the fact that France has for decades been ambivalent and obstructionist over NATO, and is failing to carry its weight in Afghanistan.
Regarding the European Union I have written before about its unreliability in all things, not least in international affairs.
To be fair, the present British government started its term by declaring that it was a very junior partner to America. It has also reduced our defence capabilities to a bare minimum making it, in British people’s opinion, a laughing stock.
The left wing in Britain has always been antagonistic towards America just because it regarded it as the “ugly face of capitalism”. But since the war in Iraq that antagonism has moved more to the right. When he was prime minister Tony Blair, in order to justify war, falsified evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A respected scientist, who had been trying to find such weapons but found none, blew the whistle and apparently committed suicide – a proper inquest into his death was denied. We are awaiting the results of a public examination of the whole Iraq affair. This has tainted opinions of America.
The general opinion of Mr Obama’s speech was that it was something he knew the British public wanted to hear and nothing else. I am not sure, and am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. His speech dealt mainly with the troubles facing the world in general as witnessed by the “Arab Spring”. He said that it was for the west to help them achieve democracy. I am not sure that is possible. Iran is a “democracy” having voted for a prime minister but it is ruled by an unelected hardline Ayatollah who does not hesitate to use force to ensure obedience.
What will happen to the “special relationship? ” I do not know. I hope it survives because we will need America’s power and Britain’s diplomatic skills and world respect to work together. Member countries of the European Union would be a poor ally.
Let us know your thoughts on President Obama’s visit in the comments section.