Yesterday Barack Obama addressed the Summit of the Americas in Colombia and spoke about the conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falklands. Obama seemed to tilt toward Argentina by calling the islands the “Malvinas” rather than the Falklands, which Argentina insists is their proper name.
Only Obama didn’t say Malvinas, he said Maldives–an entirely different group of islands located thousands of miles from the Falklands in the Indian Ocean:
So with one word, Obama both offended the British and made himself a laughingstock with the Latin Americans. Here in the U.S., we are used to such embarrassing errors by our president, but the international press hasn’t quite caught up. My complaint, specifically, is about this account of Obama’s gaffe in the Telegraph, not a particularly left-wing paper by British standards. The Telegraph’s article is headlined “Barack Obama makes Falklands gaffe by calling Malvinas the Maldives.” It begins:
Barack Obama made an uncharacteristic error, more akin to those of his predecessor George W Bush, by referring to the Falkland Islands as the Maldives.
Really? When did Mr. Bush ever display such geographic ignorance? It is Obama, not Bush, who is prone to putting his foot in his mouth in a matter that causes diplomatic embarrassment. Can we finally, after well over three years, leave his predecessor out of it and let Obama own his many gaffes and blunders?