I have a confession to make.
I’m British. But before you lynch me – please listen to my problem. Penguin will soon be publishing my next book, Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America.
The cover blurb states I’m British, and its too late to change the cover. But believe me I would like to. What was once merely a statement of fact now feels like an insult.
When the Gulf oil accident first happened, back when we all thought it would be over in a few days, President Obama was blaming BP – now he heaps the opprobrium for the environmental disaster onto “British Petroleum,” conveniently forgetting that almost half the shares are owned by Wall Street and two thirds of employees are American. Its like suddenly calling Mohamed Ali by his old name – Cassius Clay.
BP is clearly an appallingly run company but it has not been called British Petroleum for over 10 years, and by deliberately mis-naming it, Obama is showing how nakedly political, and ass-covering his actions are.
One thing is for sure — BP is fast becoming Buttkickers Paradise, a useful whipping boy for a President facing mid-terms.
The Obama family has a historical grudge against Britain. In his memoir “Dreams From my Father'”, Barack claims his his father wast tortured by the British in Kenya.
But if the President and his posse don’t temper their language, the fallout has the potential to damage more than just a few Brits trying to make it in the US. The new Prime Minister, Tory David Cameron tried Saturday to defuse the diplomatic tensions, but relations with America’s closest ally in Europe have not looked shakier since 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson considered supporting Germany in the first World War. As Britain struggles with its own economic problems, its public and politicians are anxious to bring home the nearly 10,000 UK troops serving in Afghanistan. Not to mention Iraq.
Obama treated Mr Cameron’s predecessor with a contempt that was probably deserved. Word is that he could not bear to be in the same room as Gordon Brown, the dour Scot who lectured him incessantly about the global financial crisis and then took the credit for solving it. Obama tried to avoid meeting Brown at every opportunity, on one official visit tyo Washington gifting him a a box set of 25 DVDs selected by the American Film Institute. These included Raging Bull, Casablanca, Psycho and The Graduate – this was in 2009, not 1980.
Obama put in the first congratulatory phone call to new Prime Minster Cameron last month, and invited him to visit Washington in the summer. But that was pre-Gulf oil spill. Cameron must now be dreading the moment when he receives Obama’s gift. What might it be? A pair of socks? By overplaying the anti-British card, Obama risks alienating the influential Anglophile population of the US – the PBS-viewing liberal intelligentsia who are, much as he might deny it, the bedrock of his support.
Something tells me that Obama will come to regret succumbing to his anti-British instincts as he fends off attacks on the slowness of his own reaction to the oil spill. If Britain pulls out of Afghanistan, America will look somewhat isolated. And anti-American sentiment in continental Europe is never far from the surface. Without the Brits pulling in the pro-American direction the job of Secretary of State Clinton becomes much harder.
London is also a close second to New York in financial pulling power, and both must work together to solve the global fiscal crisis.
I can understand the President is angry. Of course the BP CEO should never have been allowed near the microphones. But that is hardly a reason to toy with ending the so-called Special Relationship between London and Washington – a powerful alliance that has kept the world largely at peace for 65 years.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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