Obama sure didn’t take long to insult America’s closest ally. Just days after taking office he unceremoniously shipped the Oval Office Winston Churchill bust back to Great Britain, even though they practically begged him to keep it. As undiplomatic as this action was, Obama was just getting started at putting his own personal stamp on the “special relationship” that has existed between the two nations since World War II.
During a March 2009 state visit by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the White House claimed that Obama was “too tired” from dealing with the financial crisis to host a full-blown press conference and formal dinner for the visiting dignitary. When questioned by the UK press on the snubbing of their Prime Minister, one State Department official angrily responded “there’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”
Obama’s poor treatment of Britain has oscillated from the petty: gifts of DVDs that can’t be played in Europe for Brown and an iPod filled with Obama’s speeches for the Queen of England. To the almighty huge: blocking Britain from holding a command position in NATO even though they are the second largest contributor of troops to the alliance and have more soldiers stationed in Afghanistan than the rest of Europe combined. On the other hand chronic critic of U.S. policy France was awarded the top job of Supreme Allied Commander Transformation at NATO.
Obama also betrayed Britain when he agreed to provide Russia detailed information on every Trident missile sold to the UK as part of the START pact, a decision that defense analysts argue “risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.”
In March 2010 Obama took his dislike of Britain to the next level when Hillary Clinton suggested at a joint press conference with Argentine President Kristina Kirchner that sovereignty of the Falkland Islands should be open to “discussion”, a position that runs contrary to every other preceding administration. Just in case there was any misunderstanding, three months later the U.S. signed onto an Organization of American States resolution that called for “the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations on the sovereignty dispute.” The resolution didn’t even refer to the islands by their internationally recognized name Falkland Islands, instead calling them the Argentinean preferred “Malvinas Islands”.
While Argentina would love to add the islands and the surrounding oil fields to their socialist portfolio, there is no legal basis to their claim. When European explorers first discovered the Falkland Islands in the 1600s they were uninhabited. The islands, about 300 miles from the Argentinean coast – more than 3 times the distance of Cuba from the U.S. – have been under European control since the 1600s and continuous British rule since 1833. The island population of a little over 3,000 is overwhelmingly of British descent; they speak English, drink warm beer and are loyal to the crown. To insinuate that the Falklands shouldn’t be considered part of the UK is like saying Hawaii is an illegitimate U.S. territory. To insist that “negotiations” over people who almost unanimously agree that they are part of Great Britain be resumed, which has already led to one conflict in 1982, is to betray our closest ally and encourage war.