With friends like this….

President Barack Obama gave a rather cold reception to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week, avoiding traditional symbolic gestures of friendship and respect towards America’s steadfast ally and downplaying the historic partnership the world’s leading countries have long enjoyed.  Dana Milbank writes it up in the Washington Post.

Why?

Well, it could be a misguided attempt to signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. will be more diplomatic. More “multi-lateral.” But dissing a close diplomatic, economic, military and cultural ally doesn’t seem to enhance diplomacy.

Or it could perhaps be that Obama does not want to strengthen or lend prestige to America’s relationship with Britain because of its stature as a (relatively) free economic system. Rewarding something you (Obama) disdain (capitalism) does not come natural, and in terms of Europe, Britain represents free-market economics. 

And finally, (and this relates to the first two points) Obama simply may not seen Britain as the natural ally that past presidents have. He clearly wants to take the nation in a new direction, so why emphasize connections with a country who represents so much of our traditional political, economic and social customs and values?

In a time when America needs strong allies, and when the world needs the leadership of countries like the U.S. and Britain, this is a foolish way to treat our great friend and partner, Great Britain.

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2 Comments

Filed under Obama

2 responses to “With friends like this….

  1. Brian Johnson

    Glad to hear your feedback, UK Voter. I doubt that Obama would not want to associate closely with Brown because of the latter’s domestic disapproval ratings. Beyond that, I feel you’re quite on to something.

  2. There has been a mixed press in the UK in relation to this meeting. However, whilst I understand that Obama may not want to be too closely associated with a PM that is so unpopular, the truth is, Great Britain has been a steadfast ally of the U.S.

    The Iraq War was and is deeply unpopular in the UK, yet Tony Blair risked his career to support the USA. If any other country had asked the UK to offer support, they would have been refused outright. Whatever Obama’s view of Gordon Brown is, he should not insult the British people, it would be such a pity if as a consequence of Obama’s insensitivity or naivety, that the Brits were to consider America a ‘fair weather friend’, a charge I am sure that Americans would not want to bear at a time when most want to be mending bridges, not destroying them.

    Whilst I believe the “special relationship” is seriously overplayed, it would be a great loss to us all if the commonality and shared values of two proud nations were to be destroyed through insensitivity or discourtesy. No matter how subtle.

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