‘The United States has no truer friend than Great Britain’
But in failing to support British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, President Obama is undercutting our greatest friend. And understandably, the British are growing increasingly angry.
This isn’t a remote issue. It matters.
Like any friends, America and Britain sometimes disagree. Sometimes strongly. We disagreed with Britain on Suez. Britain disagreed with us on Vietnam. These occasional divergences continue to the present day. The US-UK intelligence relationship is deep but imperfect. Our extradition relationship is often frustrating. At the cultural level, we share many similarities alongside many differences – civilian gun ownership being one. And yet, our commonalities are overwhelming. A reality reflected in Afghanistan today.
To be fair to the President, his position towards the UK has been consistent if nothing else. First there was Churchill, then came the DVDs, next was the idiotic insult from a Foreign Service officer. Then, while standing next to the Queen, the President talked through the British national anthem. Not exactly a stellar record.
But these errors are nothing compared to the President's position on the Falklands.
The Falklands, a set of Islands in the South Atlantic have long been a British overseas territory. Having failed to conquer the Islands during the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina, who claims the Islands as their own, now resorts to using diplomatic pressure to drive the UK to the negotiating table. This is a position contrary to international law and irreconcilable with freedom. Two weeks ago, the Falkland Islanders voted by a 99% majority to remain a British territory. Yet, in a pathetic acquiescence to Argentine pressure, the Obama Administration has decided to ignore this self-determination. And so, US policy is now at war with basic logic. Our position should be simple – ‘we support the UK’; the UK is our closest ally and the right to self-determination is our most sacred national belief. Instead however, our chosen policy is a flaccid lump of dishonorable weakness.
Some argue that the President is simply representing US interests. Far from betraying an ally they say, the President is trying to re-build increasingly important relationships with Latin America. This is a poor excuse. Our relationship with Latin America is obviously crucial. But if we’re unwilling to stand up for our most central values, then we’ll simply feed false but pervasive perceptions of an America devoid of values. Like Britain, Latin America wants an America that’s an honest friend. After all, that’s the only type of friend there is.
Again, let’s be clear. The relationship between the US and UK is not symbiotic and nor should we expect it to be. And yes, it’s true, too many Britons take a pathetic and intellectually redundant pleasure in a casual anti-Americanism. However, on essential issues of sovereignty, the UK deserves our unhesitating support.
In the end, this isn’t just about our responsibility as an ally, it’s also about our identity as a nation. We either stand for freedom or we don’t.