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.
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.