The Obama administration response to Libya: one Briton’s view

February 24, 2011

Ouch! This will leave a mark:

President Obama is already being outflanked by Nicolas Sarkozy, who has taken a far tougher line on Libya than his US counterpart. It is hugely embarrassing when even the French are doing more to confront a murderous dictator than the traditional leader of the free world. Frankly, President Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like General MacArthur by comparison.

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When you’ve lost the cab drivers…

June 28, 2010

Nile Gardiner, one of the Telegraph’s US-based correspondents, has often harped on President Obama for his poor handling of what had been excellent and close relations between the US and Great Britain. From the return of the Churchill bust to the dumping of Uighur terrorists in Bermuda (the security of which is Britain’s responsibility) to publicly leaning toward Argentina in the revived dispute over the Falkland Islands, it’s become clear that Obama doesn’t care about the “special relationship” between Britain and the US, and perhaps even holds that country in contempt. (Some Americans might argue that he feels that way about this country, too.)

The most recent major irritant has been the Obama Administration’s bashing of BP for the Gulf oil spill, which has gone far beyond what’s deserved to treating the company (a big Obama donor) into a whipping boy and extorting $20 billion from it for a slush fund trust fund. The pensions of millions of Britons (and, I might add, Americans) depend on dividends from BP shares, and they don’t like the prospect of the company’s finances, and thus their pensions, being crippled in the service of Obama’s political needs. While Gardiner knew that Obama’s popularity was dropping among the upper classes of the UK, he was shocked on a trip home to learn he’s losing even the man on the street – in this case, the cabbies:

In a series of meetings with leading opinion formers in the UK, I barely heard a good word said about the president’s handling of relations with Britain or for that matter his presidency in general. In contrast, when he first entered the White House 17 months ago, impressions of Barack Obama across the Atlantic were overwhelmingly positive.

But the disillusionment with Obama extends far beyond the political and media elites. I was particularly taken aback on this trip by the level of animosity towards Obama’s leadership expressed by some London black cab drivers, who have also turned against the US president, especially over his handling of the BP issue. In numerous trips across central London I asked cabbies their opinion of the Obama presidency and in particular his handling of BP. Without fail, the views expressed of the president were overwhelmingly negative, and there was a strong belief among many drivers that Obama is anti-British.

I mention London cab drivers, not only because they are the best taxi drivers in the world by a mile, but also due to the fact they usually take a keen interest in politics and international affairs, and are often a good barometer of British public opinion. If Obama has lost the sympathies of the average London black cab driver, I would argue he has lost the support of the British people too.

Gardiner goes on to make a good point: America and Great Britain are closely involved in some of the most serious issues facing the world today. From active combat in Afghanistan to the nuclear threat posed by Iran and the shadow war against jihadist Islam, to name but a few, the two governments are cooperating closely. But Obama’s serial disrespect of Britain and, now, his overdone attacks on a major pillar of the UK economy are creating a groundswell against him that could threaten that alliance.

No one is excusing BP from its liability in this disaster; even BP has said time and again it accepts responsibility. But Obama needs to stop using BP to distract from his own ineptitude in the Gulf and start doing what’s needed to clean things up, before permanent damage is done to one of our closest alliances.


The most naive president in US History

April 12, 2010

The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner give ten reasons why he believes Barack Obama surpasses even Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson as the most naive American president, ever. Here’s the first:

1. Obama believes unilateral disarmament will achieve a nuclear-free world

The Obama administration may dream of a day when the world is free of nuclear weapons, but its lofty vision bears no relation to the realities of the modern world. Even the president of France believes that President Obama needs to live in the real world, not a virtual one, which is a rather damning indictment of US leadership. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that Washington’s decision to cut its nuclear arsenal will encourage the likes of Iran and North Korea to disarm, and history has shown that a unilateral policy of disarmament will not prompt tyrannical regimes to change their behaviour.

Far from it. Self-abasement will only encourage international thugs.

Have a look at the rest. I find it hard to disagree with any of them.


Obama’s top-ten insults against Britain – updated!

March 2, 2010

More than a few have noticed President Obama’s odd disdain for Great Britain and the thinly-veiled ways he and his aides have expressed contempt for one of our closest allies. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the UK, either. The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner has written scathing columns about Obama’s slaps in Britain’s face, and in today’s article he compiles his list of the top ten:

5. Refusal to recognize Britain’s sacrifice in Afghanistan

It is particularly galling that the president cannot even be bothered to acknowledge the sacrifice made by over 250 British servicemen and women on the battlefields of Afghanistan alongside their American allies – especially evident during his lacklustre speech at West Point in December. Britain currently has as many soldiers stationed in Afghanistan – 10,000 – as all the other major European powers combined. In contrast to George W. Bush, who frequently thanked the British armed forces and people for their role in the War on Terror, Obama has spectacularly failed to do so.

Be sure to read the rest.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of Obama’s campaign promises to restore our standing in the world? He has a funny way of going about it.

UPDATE: And just like that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides to get in on the act during a visit to Buenos Aires, insulting Britain by effectively siding with Argentina’s attempts to seize British territory:

QUESTION: (In Spanish)
Interpreter: The journalist was just asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Seems superficially reasonable doesn’t it? Just get everyone together to talk and perhaps compromise? Bull. There is no compromising here.  Britain has possessed the Falklands for nearly 180 years, the residents are British, think of themselves as British, and expect to remain British – as they have every right to do. The Falklands are a part of Britain no less than Jersey and Guernsey. Put it this way: this is no different than if the US reopened the Oregon boundary dispute and demanded the “return” of Vancouver Island from Canada, and then Britain, Canada’s ally, said “sure, let’s talk,” pressuring Canada to discuss what would be, in essence, acquiescence to territorial conquest.

And this was the woman who promised during the last campaign to bring “smart power” to our foreign relations? Keep this up and she’ll need more than a reset button to fix our relations with Britain. (More at Hot Air)

LINKS: More at Sister Toldjah.


Obama as a world leader: not even Bush-league

January 22, 2010

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. From across the Atlantic, Nile Gardiner considers Obama’s record so far as a world leader and gives us 10 reasons why he’s no George W. Bush:

When it took office a year ago, the Obama administration boasted of a new strategy of “smart power”, designed to restore America’s “standing” in the world. In essence this new approach to foreign policy was designed to distance the new US government in every way possible from the Bush administration, supposedly hated in every corner of the earth, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Hence, the hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy have been the naive engagement of an array of odious dictatorial regimes, grovelling apologies before foreign audiences, lamb-like timidity in the face of intimidation, the ending of the War on Terror, and the trashing of traditional alliances. But has this liberal foreign affairs revolution succeeded in advancing American interests and security across the globe? Hardly. Under Obama’s leadership the United States now appears significantly weaker and far more vulnerable, faced with an array of deadly threats that grow more menacing by the day.

When President Bush was in power he may not have been hugely popular abroad, but the United States was widely feared on the world stage, her enemies were hunted to the ends of the earth, and her real allies were treated with respect. As Barack Obama is discovering to his cost, the world stage is not an extension of the set of American Idol, and global leadership is not about winning popularity contests. The doctrine of “smart power” looks increasingly like an empty shell, a naive approach that has reaped no dividends and threatens to usher in an era of American decline, unless it is reversed.

But what do you really think, Nile?

I’ll let you read his list; suffice it to say I agree with them all to one degree or another. Put simply, Barack Obama has so far been the weakest American president on the international stage since Jimmy Carter, and I fear his administration’s ineptitude has left this nation one crisis away from a disaster. Some even argue that Obama and the left-liberals have chosen a policy of deliberate American decline. I’m inclined to agree. (Behind that link is a brilliant article by Charles Krauthammer, by the way. Read it.)

Back to Mr. Gardiner’s list, I’ll leave you with one that especially struck me as true:

5. Bush believed in the Special Relationship

I don’t recall George W Bush ever throwing a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office or giving the British Prime Minister an insulting pack of DVDs. President Bush recognized Great Britain as America’s closest friend and ally, and placed the Special Relationship at the very heart of US foreign policy. Under Obama, the Anglo-American alliance has reached its lowest point since the Suez Crisis of 1956, a damning indictment of his world leadership. Bush possessed a genuine affection for the British people, their great heritage and their role in the world. Barack Obama cannot even bring himself to mention Britain in a major policy address or acknowledge the sacrifice of British forces in Afghanistan.

Britain isn’t the only ally to get a cold shoulder from Obama: Israel, the Czech Republic, and Poland, among others, all have sad tales to tell. But his treatment of the UK seems especially petty and personal, a sign of immaturity. The guiding principle of his foreign policy is a perverse form of appeasement: “hug your enemies, slap your friends.”

For all his faults, President Bush at least never made that mistake.


Get ready for the global consumer tax

January 19, 2010

If it isn’t bad enough that the federal government wants to take more of your money, just wait! The United Nations wants it too and has a whole range of taxes proposed to get their hands on it – for the good of the world, of course.

The UN’s dangerous plan for global taxation

George Russell of Fox News has a very important report on a United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) plan “to ask governments to impose a global consumer tax on such things as Internet activity or everyday financial transactions like paying bills online.” As Russell writes:

“Such a scheme could raise “tens of billions of dollars” on behalf of the United Nations’ public health arm from a broad base of consumers, which would then be used to transfer drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities, among other things, to the developing world.

The multibillion-dollar “indirect consumer tax” is only one of a “suite of proposals” for financing the rapid transformation of the global medical industry that will go before WHO’s 34-member supervisory Executive Board at its biannual meeting in Geneva.”

And that’s not all: among the new imposts under consideration is a tax on the international arms trade (If arms dealers are the merchants of death, what would that make the UN? Leaches of death?), a per-bit tax on Internet traffic, and a tax on bank account transactions. All of these would net billions for the UN. The article’s author, Nile Gardiner, points out just a few of the problems:

The UN proposal is disturbing for a number of reasons. It represents yet another attempt by the world organization to usurp the power of nation states, and is a major threat to the principle of national sovereignty. It would place extraordinary power and wealth in the hands of faceless bureaucrats, representing a supranational institution with a staggering track record of corruption, inefficiency, unaccountability and mismanagement. The last time the United Nations attempted to manage an international fund on this scale was the Oil-for-Food Programme, which was an unmitigated disaster.

Gardiner is rightfully appalled by this idea, and not just for the almost certain abuses it would be subject to in an infamously corrupt UN. Taxation should be decided by the elected representatives of the People in their national legislatures, not faceless appointed bureaucrats who answer to no one except another faceless bureaucrat. Our own revolution was founded in grievances over distant, tyrannical rule, including taxation without representation. These UN taxes would be just another example.

In fact, the American system of government may pose unique problems for this plan: the constitution demands that all tax measures originate in the House of Representatives, in theory the body closest to the People. The Obama administration might want to play good global citizen and agree to these taxes, but any effort to actually make the consumers pay would be subject to constitutional challenges in court. Of course, Obama could try to ram these through Congress, but, with the mood of the country right now, I wouldn’t give them much chance.

Still, this should serve as a warning: statists and liberal internationalists are forever looking for ways to “strengthen institutions,” which usually translates to larger, more intrusive government and more money taken from your pockets and sent God Knows Where. What’s agreed to in distant meeting rooms and cocktail parties has a direct bearing on your well-being and liberty, no matter how anodyne it’s made to sound by the soothing words of this or that political hack.

So pay attention, and let your representatives and senators know you will not agree to feed Leviathan, no matter how much it’s “for our own good.”

Not talking