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Foreign Affairs

The Sun is Setting on the Atlantic Alliance

America is the child and heir of English liberty and tradition - our most sacred public virtues are the bloom of an ancient English root. Indeed, the colonists' justification for the American Revolution was the oppression of their rights ... as Englishmen. The Crown had failed to protect them, His Loyal Subjects, from the capricious whims of Parliament, which denied their English birthrights by passing objectionable laws over them without their consent or representation. It was to reclaim the privileges of the Ancient English Constitution that farmers and statesmen shed their blood and founded a new nation to enshrine and protect that eternal law.

Though our early history proved turbulent, America and Great Britain have enjoyed a "special relationship" for nearly a century now - an Atlantic alliance which led the world to victory against Hitler and Communism. Even in recent times, when America was struck on September 11th, Britain rose to our defense without hesitation, marching to Afghanistan and Iraq at our side. We owe them a special debt and duty, which they owe also to us - many times over on each side.

It is of unique repugnance, then, that our president has rejected this shared heritage and obligation, even to the point of spurning our most trusted ally. At the outset of his administration, Obama flouted custom and protocol to make clear his disdain for England during his first visit with PM Brown. Brown provided Obama with priceless gifts: a pen set from the timbers of the HMS Gannet, a 19th century anti-slaving ship, as well as the charter to the HMS Resolute, a sister ship to the Gannet from whose timbers the Oval Office desk was built by Queen Victoria, and, finally, a first-edition, 7-set biography of Winston Churchill, to accompany the bust of Churchill found in the Oval Office since Britain sent it as a symbol of their devotion to America following the attacks of 9/11. Naturally, Brown also provided the Obama children with a half-dozen yet-to-be-released children's books and outfits from a recently opened British store in America. 

In return, Obama gave Brown a box set of 25 American films on DVD. American DVDs, probably worth a little over $200, which won't play on DVD-players outside the U.S. And Brown is completely blind in his left eye, with degradation (postponed by experimental surgery) in his right. In case this mockery was insufficient, Mr. Brown's children were each given a toy model of Marine One, alla the White House gift store. Obama also refused to stand alongside Brown under their respective flags, as is custom upon a prime minister's arrival, cancelled a joint press conference and, defiantly refusing invitations to the contrary, returned the bust of Churchill to Brown upon his departure.

This was the beginning - a sign of what was to come, both with respect to Britain and American foreign policy. Eschewing a recitation of other affronts to Britain over the past year, America has now officially discarded her on a matter of Britain's own sovereignty. Responding to a dispute between Britain and Argentina regarding oil-drilling off the Falkland Islands (which are internationally recognized as belonging to Great Britain, though Argentina claims them also), the Obama administration not only refused to support Britain, but called into question her sovereignty.

We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.

Today, "amid smiles and laughter," Hillary Clinton arrived in Argentina and summoned Britain to negotiations, giving "no sign of backing the British position on negotiations." Argentina, whose closest ally is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, exclaimed Clinton's backing as "a diplomatic coup" over Britain and disclosed that Clinton had offered to mediate. The residents of the Falklands were outraged by America's betrayal, and Britain was forced to politely dismiss the insult.

Obama has invited warm camaraderie from Hugo Chavez and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, while spurning Israel's Netanyahu and the Dalai Lama. He has abandoned or ignored popular struggles to sustain or establish democracy in Honduras, Iran and Lebanon. He has betrayed promises to the Czech Republic and Poland in favor of appeasing renewed Russian aggression. He has prostrated America before China and the Middle East, while emboldening Iran and Hamas through idle rhetoric and indifference.  

Obama's foreign policy has revealed not only that he does not value the Atlantic alliance, which has long lead the cause of freedom and democracy in the world, but also that he is not worthy of that special relationship and its honorable legacy.

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Discussions - 10 Comments

DVDs are DVDs, and we can make too much of such foul-ups, but this revival of the Faulklands "issue" makes no sense. None.

Justin, do you distinguish between the arguments of Thomas Jefferson in his "Summary View of the Rights of British North America" and the Declaration of Independence? Consider A. Lincoln on Stephen Douglas's claim that the Declaration was about the fighting for the equal rights of Englishmen, about 3/4 of the way down: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=52

Obama's incompetence and ill-tendencies in foreign affairs (like Jimmy Carter's) are a national embarrassment.
Nonetheless, let's not sacralize Anglo-American ties (or Israel-American ties, or any ties binding us to other nations and their problems). Let's keep in mind the sage advice of Washington (from his youth a patient and loyal British subject, despite witnessing and suffering firsthand Britain's contempt for the colonies during the French and Indian War):
...passionate attachments for [particular nations], should be excluded...The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.
Or as PM Lord Palmerston declared, Britain has no permanent allies, only permanent interests. Why should the U.S. think any differently (about Britain or about itself)?

JQA just suggested less support of Israel....GET HIM. I think the Britian we spend a century with is not a thing of the past. They don't have the magna carta and we soon will not have the bill of rights. Be it for security against terrorists, plauges that would kill us all, environment warming to kill us, or economic depression the elite will do away with the concept of individual rights. Our support and alliance with England is a huge tell of this as they are about a decade ahead in the police state crackdown.

Good point, Brutus. Why wouldn't the habit and sentiments of foreign ties lead us toward conforming our way of life to that other nation's? And what marks that way of life, in even the cradle of liberty, the beloved UK? Government suspicion of its own citizens, through ubiquitous surveillance , combined (incongruously) with official incapacity or unwillingness to make all domestic Muslims assimilate and coexist peacefully with their neighbors.
England, we appreciate the pens -- and the common law, and Shakespeare, and Locke, and Jane Austen -- but you can keep your problems.

Sorry for the mis-coding.
The hyperlink was to apply only to "surveillance"; the link goes to the (official) site http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/cctv/recommendations.htm

I agree that the US should not sacralize its relationship with another country to the extent that doing so trumps the concerns of interest and justice. But one should try especially hard to avoid insulting countries with whom one has entered into long term collective security arrangements and whose troops, at this moment, are fighting alongside one's own.

But I don't think Clinton meant to insult the British or increase Argentina's hopes for reclaiming the Falklands. I agree with Walter Russell Mead that she just put her foot in her mouth. http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2010/03/04/patagonian-pander-predictably-flops/

And yes Craig, that includes the crack about Old Europe.

Ken,

Well proposed - let me attempt a worthy answer to you and others who may question my assertion of colonists as rights-minded Englishmen. I do mildly distinguish between Jefferson's writings, but only as to their particular aims and purposes, without any sense of incongruity as to their substance.

In accord with Lincoln's observations, the Declaration was intended as the philosophic foundation and political justification for the erection of a new nation. The "all men are created" language simply articulated a universal (not Anglo-American) truth of human nature which served as the ultimate justification for independence and self-determination once all other means of reconciliation had failed.

Prior to this last resort to universal principles, which dissolved all bonds and returned them to a state of nature, the Colonists relied upon accepted principles of their particular heritage. Being equal in creation (that is, in the free possession of inherent rights), does not imply equality of condition or fortune. The Colonists extolled the ancient constitution of England as “the glorious fabrick of Britain’s liberty,” “the palladium of civil liberty,” “the monument of accumulated wisdom, and the admiration of the world.” The English form of government was “the most free and best constituted in all the world.” (See Gordon Wood's "Creation of the American Republic," pp. 11, 260.)

The Colonists were descendants of Britain, and, as Jefferson's "Summary" notes: "It is neither our wish, nor our interest, to separate from her. We are willing, on our part, to sacrifice every thing, which reason can ask to the restoration of that tranquility for which all must wish."

While the Colonists clung to the hope of a restoration of "fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire," their arguments hinged upon the demonstrable illegitimacy of present acts of Parliament and royal prerogatives in light of the superior authority of the common law, natural law and immemorial custom which composed the ancient English constitution.

Much like the early Protestants, who held animosity toward the Catholic Church but relied upon the foundations of the Church for their own justification and vision of the future, the Colonists harbored resentment toward England for her injustices, but relied upon established English principles and modes of thinking in their justification of revolution.

The ancient English constitution belonged to subjects in "British America" equally as to those yet living in England - they were all Englishmen, in this regard. The Colonists' established privileges as Englishmen were just and sufficient; the British respect and accordance afforded to those privileges was the matter of dispute.

Russia defeated Germany, the US defeated Japan.

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