Friday, 10 June 2011

Opinion: Obama the floater, destined to sink.

I make no secret of it; I've always had a slight disliking for Barack Obama. 

At first, I think it's fair to say that my dislike for him was unfair.  By that, I mean I was perhaps a little hasty in allowing myself to be irritated by the hype surrounding the President-elect.  To recap on what has been observed countless times before, he was celebrated not for his political talent, but for a whole host of shallow reasons: because of his relatively young age; his good-looks; because he wasn't a stuffy white guy; and even simply because of the fact that he just wasn't George W Bush.  He broke the mould and it drove the crowds wild; worldwide.

Perhaps it's fairer to say then, that my dislike wasn't so much for him, but for those who blindly touted his as-yet-unproven political ability.  I couldn't get on board; I wanted solid policy outlines, but all Obama could offer was broad sweeping rhetoric that was almost entirely focused on the virtue (if you want to see it that way) of being distanced from the "neo-cons".  He was wishy-washy.

I sit here now, as I’m sure many others do, and feel justified in my gut feeling.  Floating from one relationship to the next, Obama seems keen on being friends with everyone, but allies with no one.  A concession here, a flowery speech there; throw in a couple of "special relationship" mentions and perhaps the odd assurance to the Middle and Far East and everyone can be friends, right?  Hmmm.

I think perhaps it’s that characteristic flakiness -- his sheer irresolution -- that has really ground my gears over yesterday’s Falklands debacle.  If you’ve not heard, and can’t be bothered to sift through the OAS document, President Obama has used his “considerable” political judgement to side with the likes of Chávez and Ortega in backing Argentina’s right to hold negotiations with the British over the sovereignty of the Falklands.

What’s to negotiate?!  Nile Gardener makes the argument well in his Telegraph piece, leaving little need for me to regurgitate.  But what I will reaffirm is his pertinent description of the decision as “hugely disappointing”.  How true.  Disregarding the relationship between Britain and the US for the umpteenth time, Obama is left floating between the disappointment of a staunch ally and what is likely no more than the vague pleasure of those who remain committed foes. 

This paltry and frankly rather bizarre concession therefore really does no good for anyone.  Not least, it has left Obama looking the clueless fool once again. 

On this occasion, I'll give the last word to Ed Morrissey who sums the whole charade up perfectly in calling it “an insult to the British, as well as to the actual people on the islands themselves.”

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