The Obama administration and England

England is not one of my favorite places anymore, because of the raging antisemitism that characterizes her politics and her street.  Nevertheless, she is our ally and has been our staunch ally for more than a century.  For Obama to abandon her over the Falklands is disgusting.  At Power Line, in a few words, John nails Obama’s policy vis a vis England (emphasis mine):

So, once again, the Obama administration has sold Great Britain, formerly our #1 ally, down the river, along with the inhabitants of the Falklands, whose opinions would seem to count for something. We are past the point where anyone could doubt that the Obama administration’s hostility toward the U.K. is intentional. Obama seems to have substituted personal pathology for national policy.

I’m careful about calling someone evil, which I think is in an entirely separate class from misguided or ignorant or any other negative adjectives.  With this kind of excuse for foreign policy emanating from the White House, though, I’m increasingly inclined to imagine that appellation attached to Obama’s name.

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  • Charles Martel

    While I doubt that the Argentinians have the wherewithal to fight a war over the Falklands, I doubt even more Britain’s will to fight for those islands if push comes to shove. Great Britain is great no more, and I suspect that Obama knows it and is complicit in setting in motion a chain of events that will prove it so.

    If that is the case, I agree with Book that the time has come to label Obama a malevolent man.

    But on the other hand, because malevolence inevitably destroys itself, there is a hidden blessing here. Obama’s cowardice, as well as the emptiness of Britain’s elites, may actually spark a rebellion. We are very close to a tipping point when it comes to Obama’s travesties. You can fool the sheep in Germany, Russia, France, and even Britain, but it’s very hard to fool tens of millions of American not-sheep. I look forward to November.  

  • David Foster

    Obama probably resents Britain largely because of its colonial past. He appears to know so little about real history that I wonder if he is unaware of the colonial behavior of, say, Belgium and Germany. (France may have been on balance no worse than Britain, but was certainly no better)

  • Yankee Bruce

    It is such a shame what Great Britian has become. 

    My wife and I have fond memories from the time we met, dated, and married while stationed there.  The window is rapidly closing for us to go visit and play “remember when …”. 

    The treatment our country is giving to the Brits is a real travesty. 

  • jj

    If by “staunch” you mean England routinely, predictably, and inevitably has waited for the US to show up and pull their chestnuts from the fire while costing them nothing – then yes: they’ve been “staunch” as hell for a century.
    When was the last time (has there ever been a time?) our “staunch” ally ever did anything for us?
    I am equivocal as hell about Europe in general these days – and that includes England.

  • suek

    >>…inevitably has waited for the US to show up and pull their chestnuts from the fire while costing them nothing>>
    Well…I wouldn’t say it cost them _nothing_.  They _are_ a tad smaller than we are.

  • Danny Lemieux

    >>…inevitably has waited for the US to show up and pull their chestnuts from the fire while costing them nothing>>
    Uh, actually, WWI cost the Brits plenty before we showed up. And, while it is true that the Brits were fighting for their own existence during the Battle of Britain, it would be silly to say that the U.S. didn’t have a strategic interest in Britain’s survival. As far as “costing them nothing”, the Brits wracked up a huge debt to the U.S. for the support  that we rendered Britain during WWII, so much so that it came very close to bankrupting Britain. Point is, that aid wasn’t “free”. Some Brits (albeit very unfairly) still blame the U.S. for the massive post-war debt load that severely constrained their post-war recovery. For the record, I come down pretty hard on any Brit that whines about the their post-war debt to the U.S., BTW.
    Let’s not forget that Britain was the U.S. most stalwart supporter during the Korean, Viet Nam, the Gulf and Iraq wars, and currently the war in Afghanistan. With the exception of Viet Nam, these wars were fought with British boots on the ground and spilled blood when pretty much the rest of the world stood in opposition to us.
    For all of my problems with the Brits (to which Book alludes), they deserve far better from us that Obamaworld.

  • Bookworm

    I’d have to agree with Danny there, jj.  The Brits, of course, have always been driven by self-interest, in which they are distinct from America, which believes that it benefits indirectly from others’ successes, as well as directly from its own.  Nevertheless, it was Britain that stemmed the Nazi tide until we stepped in.  You could say that we saved their chestnuts, but I like to think that they saved the world’s chestnuts first.

    We also owe England a debt for our freedoms.  It was England that provided the intellectual soil that enabled us to grow and then to outstrip her when it come to the notion of constitutional liberty.

    It is for these reasons that, while I am wholeheartedly disgusted with the England of today, I cannot forget the fact that there are ties that bind our two nations, and I can’t help but be saddened and worried by Obama’s pathological desire to throw Britain under his Narcissism Express.

  • Gringo

    I find this “neutrality”  of NObama on the Falklands to be appalling. Hillary should have been talking tough with Evita III, instead of kissing up. Lest I be accused of Argiephobia, I used to work there, and drink yerba mate every day.  I am very fond of the place, but see no need to coddle dysfunctional governments, be they juntas or Peronistas.
    President-General Galtieri invaded the Falklands in 1982 in an attempt to gain support from a populace that was fed up with the incompetence of the junta’s economic policies. Evita III apparently has similar motives, as the Peronistas lost their legislative majority last year due to the inability of the Kirchners to adapt economic policies to changing times.
    There is a bit of irony here. First, fill in the blanks.  Nestor Kirchner, Evita III’s husband and predecessor as President, had been a member of  the radical Peronist Youth when he was a youth. Nestor, while a  radical leftist, did not belong to Montoneros, the pro-Peronista terrorists whose kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations led to the coup that toppled the democratically elected Peronista government of Evita II, a.k.a. the widow and Vice-President for  President Juan Domingo Peron- once Colonel Peron.  Nestor Kirchner appointed a number of former Montoneros to high positions, such as   deputy chief of staff  Carlos Kunkel, Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa and deputy foreign minister Jorge Taiana.  Imagine if  NObama had  selected Bill Ayers to  head the Department of Education.Kirchner also annulled amnesty laws regarding the military that democratically elected governments had passed in the 1980s.
    Given the Kirchners’ hostility towards the military, it is ironic that Evita III would then resort to the same tactic the junta did when confronted with loss of support: bring in the Falklands.
    Here is some quick background on the Montoneros:
    An armed leftist movement that professed loyalty to Gen. Juan Domingo Peron, the Montoneros carried out a series of spectacular kidnappings of retired generals and captains of industry in the 1970s and executed some of their hostages. The Montoneros’ marauding furnished the military with one of its most important rationales for overthrowing Peron’s widow, Isabel, and some independent commentators condemn them in language nearly as harsh as that reserved for the disgraced armed forces of that period. “The Argentine people hate the Montoneros more than anything else in the world,” says Sylvina Walger, a prominent journalist and author who was a Peronist militant in her youth. “They see them in the same light as the military.”

  • Oldflyer

    I have no idea what Obama’s motives are.  The problem, I think, is that likely no world leader has any better idea.  Being erratic has its advantages, as for instance, when it keeps your adversaries off balance.  Folks are reluctant to mess with N. Korea or Iran because it is problematical how their erratic leadership would respond.  I do not see how it is beneficial to behave erratically toward your friends and allies.  Should I say former friends and allies?
    Interjecting a personal note, as I am often tempted to do.  A few years before the Falklands war, a number of Argentine Navy pilots came to the states for training, because their Navy intended to fly the A-4 Skyhawk from their carrier.  My squadron was responsible for their training.  As a group, and   certain individuals in particular, were as charming and personable as anyone you could hope to meet.  Their A4 community suffered significant losses were  in the war. I grieved for them.   Still, as far as I know, the only claim that Argentina had on the Falklands was that they were relatively near by and they wanted the territory. (Kind of like China;s claim over Tibet and Taiwan; and Russia’s claim to chunks of Georgia.)  It appeared to me that the government of Argentina tried to run a bluff, and their young men paid the price for its failure.  Of course if Margaret Thatcher had not been PM, they might have succeeded.
    Back to Obama. I suspect that we will have fewer and fewer trustworthy friends.  It is after all a two-way street.

  • Gringo

    There is further irony here, given that Nestor Kirchner, Evita III’s husband and predecessor as President, is from Santa Cruz Province in the Patagonia region of Argentina. He was the Governor of Santa Cruz province.
    Argentina claims possession of the Falklands on the basis of righting some alleged wrong nearly 200 years ago. When Britain took over the Falklands in the 1830s, Patagonia was not under control of the Argentine government. In fact, the frontier of European settlement did not extend south and west of Buenos Aires province until the 1870s.Think Wyoming in 1805. It was not until the Conquest of the Desert in the 1870s that Argentines of European descent moved to Patagonia. The Wiki article talks of genocide. When I worked in Argentina, I was told of “poisoned asados”- poisoned barbecues, where the Indians of Patagonia would be invited to barbecues to celebrate “peace” between the Indians and the Europeans, only to be served poisoned meat. The Wiki article does not mention the poisoned barbecues.
    As Nestor is from Patagonia, I find it ironic that his wife is trying to right some  alleged historic wrong regarding the Falklands, while her husband’s residence and her residence in Patagonia was based on a much greater  and more recent historical wrong.
    There should be a statute of limitations.


  • jj

    Driven by self interest – yes.  But you’d like to think there was a brain somewhere in there, wouldn’t you?  In both 1914 and 1939 you could have said: Hey England – this guy over here has a .357, you have a can opener.  Maybe you should tone down the bellicosity a little bit, at least until you’ve visited the gun store.  (Oh yeah…. America’s the gun store…)
    Danny – WWII cost them before we showed wholly as a function of their own refusal to recognize – for a decade – what was going on around them and spend a nickel on their own defense – while simultaneously making war for themselves almost inevitable.  Had they even been basically prepared – and Churchill a bit less bellicose  – things could have been quite different for England.  There is no apology possible for Hitler, but WWII is Churchill’s war – Hitler had just about zero interest in fighting with them.  (We don’t much get taught this in this country, but Hitler is on the record- in several places – as being absolutely flabbergasted by Churchill’s bellicosity and apparent determination to fight with him.)
    And as soon as Churchill became Prime Minister in May of 1940 he started doing his utmost to drag us in.  Our government, (our people, too) having been burned in a previous European mess, had no interest in riding to England and France’s rescue again.  (Also not taught in American schools: how deeply America was offended by England and France’s post-WWI behavior, and how deeply America disliked them during the 20s and 30s.  Special relationship?  You bet – we despised them above everybody.)  We didn’t get into the war for another 19 months, and then it was at the behest of Japan.  The minute – and I mean the MINUTE – he got the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, there was old Winston, on the phone to FDR, saying: “now we’re all in the same boat” and insisting “Hitler first.”  FDR would have been totally justified in saying: “what?  Why?  What’d  Hitler do to us?  Whaddaya mean ‘Hitler first’ – why Hitler at all for America?”  (And if FDR were working with today’s democrat congress, that’s what he would have said, too.)
    Britain twice took European wars and turned them into world wars, without being ready to actually fight either time.   Both times they worked hard to sucker America in and rescue them.  And it was essentially a free service both times – the bills they owed they mostly did not pay.  (Yes, some things were rationed in England until 1959 – which is insane in a first-world country, but it shows you how hollow they were.  But at the same time the only reason there weren’t outbreaks of outright starvation in England until 1959 was because we made sure it didn’t happen.)
    In WWI the Kaiser had less interest in fighting England than Hitler did two decades later.  In fact Wilhelm had no interest in fighting with anybody.  Alone among world leaders at the time, the “bloody Kaiser” – who receives all the blame for the war and lost his job as a result of it – was the only damn one of them who never once had been at war.  His father was, in 1870, but that was it for Germany until 1914.  The same cannot be said for England, France, Spain, Italy,  the USA, and the rest of the highly peaceful and pacifistic noble Allies.
    As I write this and think on it, an interesting thought pops out.  (And a digression from the actual post, Bookworm – I apologize.)  In 1914, Grey, Asquith, and Lloyd George were all in a state of more or less horror at what was playing out.  They didn’t want any part of a war.  But there was someone in the cabinet who did.  On August 4th, as the ultimatum that took Britain to war was expiring, a tearful Margot Asquith, wife of the Prime Minister, left her husband to go to bed, and as she ascended the stairs she saw Churchill, “with a happy face striding towards the double doors of the Cabinet room.”  (Quoted in Emrys Hughes, Winston Churchill: British Bulldog, 1955)  On the other side of that door sat Asquith and Lloyd George.  George said: “Winston dashed into the room, radiant, his face bright, his manner keen, one word pouring out after another how he was going to send telegrams to the Mediterranean, the North Sea, and God knows where.  You could see he was a really happy man.”  (Quoted in Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life, 1991)  Maurice Hankey wrote: “Churchill was a man of a totally different character from all his colleagues.  He had a real zest for war.  If war there must needs be, he at least he could enjoy it.” (Quoted by William Manchester, The Last Lion – Visions of Glory, 1983).  AG Gardiner wrote in Pillars of Society – in 1913, before it happened: “He sees himself moving through the smoke of battle – triumphant, terrible, his brow clothed with thunder, his legions looking to him for victory, and not looking vain.  He thinks of Napoleon; he thinks of his great ancestor.  Thus did they bear themselves; thus, in this rugged and most awful crisis, will he bear himself.  It is not make-believe, it is not insincerity; it is that in that fervid and picturesque imagination there are always great deeds afoot with himself cast by destiny in the Agamemmnon role…  He will write his name big in the future.  Let us take care he does not write it in blood.”
    Okay.  Flash forward.  April 1935 – Stresa Conference, Britain says no help to any central or eastern European country.  (Like Poland…?)  Britain won’t help France and Italy if they don’t like something Germany does to rectify Versailles (which Britain thought was hugely unfair.)  Ramsay MacDonald was PM for this one.
    May, 1935 – Britain and Germany sign a naval treaty.  Britain shows itself willing to blow off the allies and deal separately with Germany.  (Stanley Baldwin was PM for this one.)
    October 1935 – Italy invades Abysinnia (I like the old names), the world is repelled by a modern army with an air arm attacking guys armed with spears.  Britain, whose flag already flew over 85% of Africa was prepared to politely turn away, but Mussolini insults Anthony Eden, so Britain sanctions Italy for the sake of Eden’s honor (excuse me, honour) on the eve of a peaceful settlement and drives Italy out of Stresa and into Germany’s arms.  Mussolini, it is not remembered in history class, did not like or trust Hitler and had no interest in being his pal.  Britain put him there.  (Self-interest, y’know.  Smart.)   Baldwin in the big chair.
    Then comes the Rhineland, anschluss, and the Sudetenland.  Britain does nothing.
    Then in 1938 comes Munich, and Britain again does nothing, and sanctions what has gone before, Neville Chamberlain presiding as PM.
    September 1938 an interesting thing happened, and again: it’s neither taught nor remembered much these days.  FDR made a flat statement reflective of America’s fed-uppedness with Europe: “Those who count on the assured aid of the US in case of a war in Europe are totally mistaken… To include the US in a Franco-British front against Hitler is an interpretation that is 100 percent false.”  (Shirer, Collapse of the Third Republic, 1969)  Somebody knew what was coming.
    So okay- 1940, what’s the position?  We’ve gone for years, Britain has done nothing, in fact Britain has approved of many of Germany’s actions.   (Britain didn’t think Versailles was fair, justified, or real-world at all, so they never truly objected to Hitler’s gathering Germans and some territory back into the fold)  Hitler knows this.  He’s been able to successfully bluff, work with, intimidate – put it however you like – three different British Prime Ministers, and nobody’s started shooting.  It looks like Churchill will be the fourth, and Churchill admires him – though he does bitch a lot about his policies.  (in 1937 Churchill wrote about Hitler: “One may dislike Hitler’s system yet admire his patriotic achievement.  If our country were defeated I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.”)  So fine, let Winston bitch.  Hitler admires Britain, and always saw them as allies.  Hell – the British royal family is German, there’s been a German in Buckingham Palace for the last 200 years, for God’s sake!  In that same 200 years Britain’s been at war with France for 50 of them, and at war with Germany for 4 – the last war.  Why the hell  would we fight with them?  We wouldn’t, they’re natural allies.
    So thought Hitler.  But then, here’s Churchill, in spite of all that’s gone before, spoiling for a  fight!  He didn’t have an army, he didn’t have a decent economy, he didn’t have much of an air force, his navy was vulnerable to the U-boats, he was much more susceptible to blockade than Hitler was, and he had a decade of official British policy behind him of not being mad at Germany – but here he is, determined to fight!  So Britain, with not a hope in hell of doing anything about it, gives Poland an absolutely brainless guarantee (true, Churchill didn’t do it, but he sure pushed Chamberlain and Halifax around to get it done) and there you go.  England declares war on Germany.  Hitler declares: “WTF?”  He had made no plans or preparations to be at war with Britain, his air force has no long-range bombers or high-endurance fighters, no navy to speak of, no landing-craft to go invade them – not a weapon in the arsenal designed to fight with Britain.  He couldn’t believe it – the British royal family was mostly German, Britain had been at war with France 50 out of the last 200 years, only 4 with Germany, they’re natural allies!  This fat idiot wants to fight?  With us?  Why?
    So here’s my interesting thought.  It could be said, it seems to me, that England’s biggest problem in the twentieth century was probably Winston Churchill.  God knows, he was the one member of the Cabinet (as First Sea Lord) in 1914 who was determined to fight – everybody else was trying to find a way to avoid that.  He was – again – the one who couldn’t wait to get at Hitler – something almost nobody else in England wanted to do.  He got Britain into two wars they couldn’t realistically even fight very effectively, let alone win.  He made both of those European conflicts into world wars, and used and abused us twice.  It’s tiresome.
    I’ve lived in England.  I used to like it a lot, I can remember when London was a wonderful, safe place – now of course it’s perhaps the most dangerous city on the planet.  I have a number of friends, and I mostly like the British people (though c’mon, guys, it’s the 21st century, time to invent dentists).  Certainly the islands are better off being the Falklands than they are the Malvinas, and I find myself on Britain’s side.
    But the roomful of feckless jackasses that is the Obama administration isn’t really a whole lot different in their take on most of Europe than the jj administration, either.  (And I’m kind of that way on Canada, too. I guess the Olympics have rendered me temporarily sick of them.   Oh, Canada – who stands on guard for you?  Who? You with your navy that consists of four rowboats, a canoe and a couple of kayaks – Who is that, standing on guard for you?  For the last century or so?)
    I guess I’m getting cynical…

  • Ymarsakar

    A good history review, jj. A bit biased on your part, but that is understandable and to be expected.
    Britain’s Parliamentary system, due to the lack of strong or enduring executive authority, produces weird policy amalgams as Winston=fight vs Chamberlain=pacifism. This results in the cutting of military forces combined with an upswing in attempting to engage the full powers of the British nation in war. If Churchill couldn’t do it politically, then he could do it internationally.
    The British people are the first to suffer from their own government’s issues. And the second to suffer from our own government’s problems due to the economic and military spheres overlapping.
    Whatever we owe, we owe to the British people, not the British government. Never has Americans ever owed fealty or respect to government, only to the people, the power base of a nation. The people is that which endures, not the government feat.
    This implies, however, that if it is better for the British people for America to be their government than for the British government to be their government, then that is still maintaining the bond between the British and the Americans. Just in a new form.

    I have no confidence in Obama or in Britain’s government. Neither does the British people. The solutions to world crises won’t come about from any one leader. We have had enough of Alexander the Greats and Napoleons.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hi JJ, I’ve been distracted by work so I could not respond sooner, but let me try a recap of what you wroe:
    England was not prepared for WWII and therefore anxious to fight Germany.
    Churchill wanted to go to war with Germany because he loved war, even though he knew England had nothing to fear from Germany.
    Churchill, in fact, was the man who got England involved in WWI, as it is obvious that any sane country would absolutely have ignored rather than honored any existing mutual-defense treaties that it had signed both pre-WWI and pre-WWII  (take that, NATO!)
    We know that Churchill loved war because one of his personal opponents claimed he was “beaming” when he received the news that, after years of vilification,  he had been vindicated.
    Hitler would not have gone to war because he had zero interest in fighting with England, however he had no trouble declaring war on the rest of Europe, Russia and the U.S.
    The U.S. got into the war only at the behest of Japan, because we know that Germany’s declaration of war against the U.S. was only done in good fun, a diplomatic “gag”, if you will.
    When all looks bleak and the barbarian is at the gate, the only logical response (of course) is not to fight but to roll over and surrender.
    Interesting historical narrative, that. I confess that I had not heard this before.

  • jj

    It takes a long time for history to be written, Danny.  I mean actual history – not the stuff cranked out during the occasion or even in the first few decades thereafter to manipulate opinion and assure reputations.   It’s only been the last couple of decades that we’re beginning to really find out what went on in WWI – and we aren’t going to begin to know what happened – really happened, I mean –  in WWII for probably another couple of decades.
    I could tell you with 100%  factual accuracy that Pearl Harbor was absolutely a put-up job, but that’s owing to the position my father was in.  I have no previously printed anything to back that up; nothing has yet (or in that case probably ever will be, since the canonization of FDR) been “officially” released; and you have no reason whatsoever to suppose I’m knowledgeable.  I have it from a primary source.  Further, when young I knew several friends of his – other primary sources.  No longer still with us, but I still know some of their children.  We all know the actual truth of Pearl Harbor, no speculation necessary, thanks – but the world will continue to speculate for a while.  (If, as I said, it is ever genuinely told at all.)  You certainly aren’t going to believe it for a few decades, until someone with more of what you’d probably regard as “credentials’ or maybe even “veritas” than I have shows up to write a book and tell it to you.
    Thus with any other kind of history.  And we are just now getting into the period when WWI is mostly – not completely by any means, but mostly – out in the open.  (It’s only very recently – it took until the 1990s – that the British official historians have decided to agree with those who knew him:  maybe Haig wasn’t such a hero after all.  Maybe he was an unimaginative, not-very-bright murderer, and not much of a general at all.)  And we’re beginning to get somewhat within range of finding out what really went on in WWII.  (You’ll note I didn’t make anything up, Danny – all quotes are cited.)  So allow me some recommendations, to perhaps add some dimension to what we all think we know.  I suspect you’ll probably enjoy:
    The Pity Of War – Niall Ferguson; London, Penguin – 1998
    In The Footsteps of Churchill: A Study in Character – Richard Holmes; New York, Basic – 2005
    Blood, Sweat, And Arrogance, and the Myths of Churchill’s War – Gordon Corrigan; London, Orion – 2007
    Winston Churchill: British Bulldog, His Career in War and Peace – Emrys Hughes; New York, Exposition Press – 1955
    Churchill: A Life – Martin Gilbert; New York, Henry Holt – 1991
    Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary WarHow Britain Lost its Empire and the West Lost the World – Patrick Buchanan; New York, Crown – 2008
    The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West – Niall Ferguson, New York, Penguin – 2006
    Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot – Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddihn; Washington, Regnery Gateway – 1990
    The Collapse of British Power – Correlli Barnett; New York, Morrow – 1972
    Hitler 1936 – 1945: Nemesis – Ian Kershaw; New York, Norton – 2000
    The Third Reich in Power 1933 -1939 – Richard J. Evans; New York, Penguin – 2005
    Mussolini as Diplomat: Il Duce’s Italy on the World Stage – Richard Lamb; New York, Fromm International – 1999
    Archives are being opened, grandchildren are making diaries and private papers available, and we have the opportunity to know more about it than we have had at any time before.   The expiration dates on boxes upon boxes of papers delivered to the Imperial War Museum are being reached.  What’s left to say?  Evidently plenty: there is more history of the world wars and the personalities being published in the early 21st century than there was at any time in the 20th century, except in the decade right after the conflicts ended.   And that’s too close to the action.  Those writers had no access and no clue to what went on behind the closed doors.  I think we all (well, the diminishing number of us who give a damn) have to get ready to hear stuff we have not heard before.