They both hate England, apparently. The difference is that Mel Gibson’s antipathy, as expressed in Braveheart and The Patriot, is mostly fictional. Why Barack Obama hates England is hard to say, but his antipathy is distressingly real. Now, Obama has declared that the U.S. is neutral with regard to the Falklands. The Telegraph headlines: “Et tu, Barack? America betrays Britain in her hour of need”:
It was a headline I never expected to read: “US refuses to endorse British sovereignty in Falklands oil dispute.” Washington has declined to back Britain in its dispute with Argentina over drilling rights in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. President Obama’s position is one of strict neutrality, refusing to take sides. According to the State Department:
We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.
Has it come to this? Tony Blair sacrificed his political career and jeopardised Britain’s international standing by making common cause with America in the War on Terror.
Does Obama have more affinity with Argentina’s Peronist national socialism than with England’s democracy? Perhaps so. There is much more, and it gets even more painful:
For this alliance to survive, both countries must recognise their obligations and, from time to time, that involves one of us setting aside more localised concerns for the sake of the cause. Tony Blair would have preferred it if President Bush had been prepared to wait for a second UN resolution before launching the invasion of Iraq, but he decided that Britain should follow America into battle nevertheless. He recognised that the preservation of the Atlantic alliance had to be prioritised above all else, both for our sake and the sake of the world.
In return, we naturally expect America to side with us when it comes to our own territorial disputes — and this element of quid pro quo was recognised by Ronald Reagan when he backed Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands War. It wasn’t in America’s regional interests to side with us, but Reagan knew the terms of the deal: It was your country, right or wrong. You don’t abandon your closest ally in her hour of need.
So it is truly shocking that Barack Obama has decided to disregard our shared history and insist that we have to fight this battle on our own. Does Britain’s friendship really mean so little to him? Do the sacrifices Britain has made in defence of the Atlantic alliance count for nought? Who does he think will replace us as America’s steadfast ally when she finds herself embroiled in a territorial dispute of her own — possibly with the very same motley crew of Latin American rabble rousers? Spain? Italy? France? Good luck with that, Mr President.
It is astonishing that any administration could make such a mess of both domestic and foreign policy in barely more than a year. One wonders whether we will have any allies left by the end of President Obama’s term in January 2013.
SCOTT adds: See also Nile Gardiner’s Telegraph column (“Even by the relentlessly poor standards of the Obama administration, whose doctrine unfailingly appears to be ‘kiss your enemies and kick your allies,’ this is a new low”).