One of Barack Obama’s promises when seeking the presidency was that he would “restore” our relationships with our historic allies. And unlike most of his other promises, this one appears to have not yet reached its expiration date.
In the South Atlantic, Argentina is once again making aggressive noises towards the Falkland Islands, which belong to Great Britain — and have for about a couple of centuries.
These islands off in the middle of nowhere might seem like nothing worth fighting over, but Britain has shed blood twice for them. In World War I, they handed the German Navy a crushing defeat when the Germans tried to raid the islands for coal and supplies. And in 1982, when Argentina previously felt frisky and invaded the islands, the British lion showed it still had teeth when it forcibly took the islands back (albeit with some under-the-table assistance from the United States).
Now most people would look at the almost century and a half of friendship between the United States and Great Britain, add in that the people of the Falkland Islands are quite happy being British subjects, and expect the United States to at least lend some vocal support to the British and tell the Argentinians to tone it down.
But not President Obama. He recalls all too clearly the hostility that existed between the United States and Great Britain from our conception as a rebellious colony right through the Civil War (where the British aided and abetted the Confederacy) and knows you can’t trust those Limeys. Hell, the hallmark of his foreign policy thus far seems to be somewhat contemptuous of the British — he returned a prize bust of Winston Churchill, and gave tacky, almost insulting gifts to their Prime Minister and their Queen, among a host of other petty slights.
So, when England could use a strong friend to stand beside her, when a few choice words could potentially head off Falklands War II: The Electric Bugaloo, what does Barack Obama do:
It’s actually worse than that.
“We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality,” a State Department spokesman told The Times. “The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.”
The claims of sovereignty are, indeed, in dispute. Great Britain’s claims are based on discovery, occupation, and militant defense of the islands. They first settled on the islands in 1765 and have held and occupied the islands since 1832 — except for a brief period in 1982, when the Argentinians invaded and occupied them briefly until they were driven off.
Argentina’s claims are based on proximity and desire. “They’re right near us and we want them, so we ought to get them.”
The Obama administration apparently believes that it is in the United States’ best interests to not recognize Great Britain’s rights in this matter and instead curry favor with an overly aggressive Latin American neighbor in hopes of having our neighbors like us more.
I cannot imagine a more short-sighted perspective for a more futile objective.
For almost a century and a half, Great Britain has been a great and good ally, and in general been on the “right” side of things (certain vestiges of the colonial era notwithstanding, but even then it’s worth noticing that being “a former British colony” seems to lead to success and prosperity) around the world. And in this case, there should be no disputing about who is right and who is wrong in regards to the Falklands. It’s a no-brainer.
Sadly, “no-brainer” seems to be a pretty accurate description of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.