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.


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.


Links fiesta: Climategate, Smart Power, and more!

December 9, 2009

It’s a busy Wednesday today, so here are some interesting links to keep you amused and informed:

Climategate marches on:

  • While the world’s (so-called) leaders meet in Copenhagen to save us from a crisis that doesn’t exist, consider the following:
  • How climate alarmists are like hamsters trapped in a cage.
  • Solar geomagnetic activity is at an all time low. Expect things to get colder, in defiance of Al Gore.
  • The EPA has declared carbon dioxide a major threat to your health. Scientific truth be damned; this is all about a breathtaking power-grab by the Obama Administration, which is frustrated by resistance from Congress and the American people.
  • The Goracle may be a Green poet, but he has a tremendous tin ear.
  • Taking a break from her book tour, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pens an article for the Washington Post (But I thought she was irrelevant?) condemning politicized science and asking President Obama to boycott the farce in Copenhagen.
  • And all that talk of transferring trillions to developing countries to help them fight global warming? Would you like to buy a bridge, too? Then again, if it crashes the conference, this double-cross would have to be counted a Good Thing(tm).

Smart Power in action:

  • Nile Gardiner in The Mail wonders why Barack Obama seems to hate Great Britain and if the “special relationship” can survive. John Steele Gordon calls it gratuitous arrogance. I don’t know. Our President-Messiah did promise us change, after all. He just didn’t mention that would involve trashing a century-old alliance.
  • Con Coughlin thinks it’s time Obama learned some manners.
  • Don’t worry, Britain, it’s not just you. Our new policy seems to be to hug our enemies and slap our allies. The latest target apparently is Norway, which has just awarded Obama a Nobel Peace Prize (for nothing). Even people who like him get slighted.

Bits and Bobs:

See ya later tonight or tomorrow, folks!