Thursday, March 05, 2009

Special relationships

Look, I’m as Atlanticist a chap as you could meet.  I intensely dislike knee-jerk anti-Americanism; I consider that in most ways we have more in common with America than with continental Europe; I even like American literature.  But I’m starting to agree with Iain Martin on the Obama presidency.  The prompt return of Churchill’s bust is one thing – it’s understandable in fact.  That was Bush’s thing, and Obama, who has fewer ties to Britain (and Europe as a whole) than any previous President, is under absolutely no obligation to keep it going.

But add this to his statement that the US can no longer afford to go to the UN prepared for war, armed only with the signatures of Britain and Togo, the shambles over the Brown visit, his description of Britain as ‘one of our closest allies’ and a definite picture begins to emerge.  Britain is simply not a priority to Obama – who has bigger and newer fish to fry.

I suspect a lot of this is to do with an understandable reluctance to allow Brown to taint him with that stain of ruin and defeat that he exudes – Obama was no more courteous after all to the doomed Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso – but it’s graceless and short-sighted.  Obama is the coolest kid in school at the moment, but nothing causes resentment quicker than the cool kid humiliating the others.

But then, perhaps Obama really doesn’t give a shit about keeping Britain close.  His gift to Brown (a DVD box set for fuck’s sake) rather suggests that he doesn’t.  Well, as Iain suggests, next time he does want support for a foreign policy that requires more than kind words, he can damn well ask Germany.

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