Friday, April 26, 2013

Obama's Contempt for Britain

Obama has a reflexive disdain for Britain, and he simply cannot pass up an opportunity to put that culture in its figurative place.  Exactly why is speculative, as is so much about his past.  For those such as me who accept (for the sake of argument) the general outline of his life, there is still a lot of information that is left to sheer conjecture.

Don't bother ...

One theory about his Anglophobia comes from the story about his Kenyan grandfather being imprisoned and tortured by the British during the Mau Mau revolt, the report of which is – shall we say – highly suspect.  It is more likely the result of his radical upbringing by family and friends and his education, in and out of school, steeped in Marxism (notwithstanding the refusal to release his college records and transcripts, all of which still remain sealed). 

The latest snub comes from the refusal of the White House to send an envoy for the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.  Our government typically sends the Vice President, First Lady, important cabinet members or other similarly significant officials as a matter of respect, if nothing else.  Two recent examples are then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attending the funeral of John Atta Mills of Ghana, or an official delegation of congressmen to the funeral of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela (of all people – after previously congratulating him on winning his referendum to be declared 'dictator for life').  But the administration was silent about a delegation to Britain, our closest ally for over a century through near-cataclysmic wars and conflicts.  After British press (and back-channel) demands for an explanation, the White House replied that they were just too busy (every last one of them?) with congressional business (read that to mean the gun control effort, which failed).  Note that this took place prior to the bombing in Boston. 

Further pressed, the administration observed that previous officials from former Republican administrations would be travelling to the funeral to pay their respects, as individuals.  These included former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and three former Secretaries of State – Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and James Baker.  As a result, the White House then announced that Shultz and Baker would then constitute what passed for an official delegation, en passant as it were.  Added to that official list was the US chargé d' affairs Barbara Stephenson, already in London of course, and the recently departed ambassador Louis Susman.  In contrast, the Republican-led House of Representatives sent three delegates, including Michele Bachmann.

We were at least spared the embarrassment of the press upstaging the ceremonies with reports of the Obama presence, or listening to another of Obama's self-serving remarks re-directing the events from Lady Thatcher to himself (as if: "A daughter of a grocer, and a woman at that, rising to the highest levels of power, just like a black son of a single mother …"). 

Quite a shabby way to treat the memory of possibly the greatest peacetime Prime Minister in British history, who together with President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II took on the challenge of bringing to an end the threat of the Soviet Union.  I would suggest that this is precisely why the event was snubbed, as a sop to the Left and an example of the severe lack of their civility toward anyone not to their liking.  Obama's Chicago-style pettiness continues to show through, and its habituality distinguishes it more as a character flaw than an acquired political 'skill'.  Newspapers throughout the UK took note of the snub and many were highly critical, with even the left-wing Guardian making no real attempt to explain it away. 

As if this wasn't bad enough, it is only the latest in a string of blatant snubs and petty disrespect shown to the United Kingdom during the reign of Obama. 

What started these off from the very beginning was the return of the bust of Sir Winston Churchill, lent to the Presidency after 9/11 in a token of British solidarity with us, as unshakeable as that of World War II, in this war against the jihadis.  Though there was no official complaint at the slight, it became widely known through a number of unofficial channels.  Those who took note of it, particularly Dr Charles Krauthammer, were castigated by the White House through Dan Pfeiffer, its communications director, who stated unequivocally that the story was "100% false" and an "urban legend", attaching a photo of Obama and the visiting PM David Cameron examining a bust of Sir Winston in a hallway of the White House residence in 2010.  Pfeiffer's dudgeon was quickly undercut by the fact that the bust in the photo was a different one, given during the Nixon administration, and the one in question that had been returned from the Oval Office was sitting in the residence of the British ambassador.  Pfeiffer was compelled to apologize to Krauthammer, but never did so publically. 

Obama also spurned then-PM Gordon Brown on his visit to Washington DC soon after Obama was installed.  The administration first refused to host a state dinner or press conference, as it has always done on such occasions as a sign of respect (the President was "too tired", it was reported), and later refused five separate requests by the British to have Brown meet with Obama at the UN in New York or during the G-20 Conference in Philadelphia.  Obama did meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Medvedev, Japanese PM Hatoyama, and even Iranian President Ahmadinejad, but had no time for the British PM. 

An even greater shock came shortly thereafter when Obama announced, "We don't have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy and the French people."  Overlooking the obvious history of the strong alliance with Britain over the past century, not to mention the cultural ties (obvious, that is, unless one is a victim of public education), a current example of British support is in Afghanistan with British troops outnumbering the French by 7 to 1, and the British contingent larger than all other NATO troops combined, and it was the British who captured Basra (the "Stalingrad of Iraq" in its war against the Iranians in the 1980s) and a good portion of southern Iraq in 2003. 

It has been widely noticed in the UK that Obama and his administration have removed the term 'Special Relationship' while referring to the Anglo-American alliance.  To make matters worse, an unnamed State Department official exclaimed to a reporter from the Sunday Telegraph: "There's nothing special about Britain.  You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world.  You shouldn't expect special treatment."  The exception was the effort of Hillary Clinton who referred to the phrase twice (somewhat too earnestly in an attempt to cover the past slights) in the official birthday greeting to Queen Elizabeth, delivered a week too early. 

In contrast to before, the Obama administration has announced that it is officially neutral in regards the question of the Falklands, and Obama has taken to referring to the islands by the Argentine name, or at least he tried to, calling them the "Maldives" instead of the "Malvinas".  During the Falklands War in 1982, the US government under President Reagan tried an initial stance of neutrality in the early days when the possibility of a negotiated settlement existed, but when this evaporated with the intransigence of the Argentine junta, we very definitely – and appropriately – sided with the British, and remained so until Obama stepped back from that commitment.  Despite the use of the word 'neutral', the administration is nevertheless pushing distinctly pro-Argentine positions, calling for negotiations over the issue, in direct contrast to the British position. 

The ambassador to the Court of St James's has always been one selected from the most accomplished statesmen, politicians, or foreign service diplomats.  (Even FDR's absurd selection of Joseph Kennedy still saw a major politician in the post.)  But with Ambassador Susman mentioned above, this marked a crony appointment with all the appearances of a political quid pro quo as if the United Kingdom were some sort of banana republic.  Susman had no foreign, political or diplomatic experience, and his only value was that he was a major hometown Chicago fundraiser and bundler for Democrat candidates.  The British very clearly took note of this change in quality. 

In 2011, the US secretly passed to the Russians "sensitive information on Britain's nuclear deterrent" to help secure a bargaining point in the negotiations for the New START deal (a treaty which ended up being exclusively to the advantage of the Russians anyway).  This was after the British specifically forbade the transaction when the administration sought their support. 

Other examples prove instructive.  During Brown's visit, the PM presented Obama with an ornamental pen holder carved from the timbers of HMS Gannet, one of the Royal Navy ships that carried out the campaign to eradicate the slave trade.  The Gannet was a sister ship to the Resolute, from which was carved the Presidential desk in the Oval Office, a gift from Queen Victoria, and Brown presented a framed commission for the Resolute as well.  Brown added a first-edition set of Sir Martin Gilbert's biography of Sir Winston Churchill.  The gifts were brilliant not only in their value but their subtlety.  The biography was a gentle reminder – or instruction – of the importance of Churchill after the bust controversy, and the reference to the Gannet was to an anti-slaver that patrolled off the coast of Kenya, intercepting and fighting Muslim slave ships that would otherwise have been preying on Obama's ancestors.  It also might complement Obama's campaign to identify himself with Lincoln, with the fact that beyond Lincoln and the abolitionists' fight against slavery in America, it was in fact William Wilberforce and the Royal Navy that did the most to eradicate the slave trade in the world. 

Obama, in turn, presented Brown with a boxed DVD set of American movies, which could have been purchased at a local K-Mart but which are not formatted to view on British televisions. 

This sentiment was repeated with the Queen, when he presented her with an i-Pod filled with photographs of himself along with a collection of his speeches, followed by him flubbing a toast to her when he tried to talk over the playing of God Save the Queen.  In general, the British monarch acted as a very gracious host to a visit of the equivalent of some very gauche, nouveau riche cousins. 

The continuous string of petty snubs continues unabated then, for how can anyone count up the grand total of the examples and keep making the excuse that each case was simply an oversight or a misinterpretation of protocol?  Someone should remind the Obama handlers that this is not what Karl Marx meant when he spoke of a "classless society".  Even our great friend of centuries past, Edmund Burke, would find it difficult to maintain the charade that our alliance with the British remains unshakable.  "There is a point," he said, "at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue."


  1. I think I've given Obama the benefit of the doubt in many circumstances...politics being what they are, and I'm not one to blindly buy into the GOP line....but to send an official delegation to Chavez's funereal, and NOT Baroness Margaret Thatcher.....that just an affront to common sense and American decency.

  2. Class warrior Barry has no decency. His Illinois legislative opposition (all alone) to laws against late-term abortions proved that.


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