October 21, 2010
Obama and Clinton's Betrayal of an AllyBy Adam Shaw
Hillary Clinton's admonishment of Great Britain's military spending cuts fails to take into account her significant role in Britain's defense woes.
Last week, in an interview with the BBC, Mrs. Clinton commented on reports that the British government is to cut defense spending as part of wider spending cuts designed to reduce Britain's Greece-like debt. Clinton's language was far from diplomatic and was essentially a lecture about Britain's responsibilities on the international stage. When asked if potential cuts worried the Obama administration, Clinton replied in the affirmative, stating,
In one sense, Mrs Clinton is quite correct. We conservatives in Great Britain were hoping that spending cuts would be made to the bloated welfare system, the almost unworkable National Health Service, the enormous government bureaucracy, and the quite useless international aid budget -- which includes giving large amounts of money to nuclear powers such as India.
However, the Conservative (Tory) Party, although in power, is led by the highly "centrist" Prime Minister David Cameron and is in coalition with the socialist, anti-war Liberal Democrats, led by the pro-EU, anti-American Nick Clegg, who is currently situated as Deputy Prime Minister. The big-government, high-tax Liberal Democrats have wailed continually for assurances that cuts would not "hurt the poor," instead calling for stronger cuts to the military, while conservatives have called for cuts to the big government quangocracy and fluffed-up welfare system currently in place.
The predictable result is compromise between the two. There have been cuts to government bureaucracies (causing the influential Trade Unions to threaten strikes), and the welfare system will be reformed, much to the horror of left-wingers who have predictably tried to portray minor welfare cuts as a return to Dickensian nightmares. However, the Liberal Democrats have managed to squeeze an 8% cut in defence spending out of David Cameron, causing much consternation on the Tory back benches. Watching their party engage in ridiculous cuts to the military at a time of crisis, cuts that mean that we will have aircraft carriers with no aircraft, is a crushing defeat for British conservatism and for Britain's security in the world.
Mrs. Clinton, along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, used arguments that many of us on the British right have been using for a while to try to prevent these disastrous cuts. Clinton and Gates are correct -- cuts to defence will affect Britain's ability to contribute to NATO, it will make it harder for us to fight in the War on Terror, and it will make it harder for Britain to defend herself in the case of an attack.
However, as we on the British right lick our wounds and wonder how a supposedly conservative government is agreeing to defense cuts at such a time of international unrest, we might look to Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration as one of the reasons we have fallen to the antiwar, pacifist sword of the Liberal Democrats.
It is not easy to be a pro-American Brit in contemporary British politics. The country as a whole is generally center-left, and there is a very strong left-wing movement, both from the Liberal Democrats and from the normally dominant Labour Party. Leaders of both parties have openly regretted the war in Iraq, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is highly outspoken in his desire for Britain to separate herself from America and become closely united with the European Union. So for those of us arguing for a closer relationship with America, it can often be a tough sell with so many anti-American voices screeching in the background.
Consequently, when the Obama administration actively rejects Britain and works against British interests, a pro-American position becomes untenable -- and this is precisely what has happened in Britain since Obama took office in 2009. We have seen the "Special Relationship" between America and the U.K. destroyed. Whether it be due to Obama's own anti-British sentiments or simply due to the general left-wing flavor of the administration that regards the "Special Relationship" as an unfortunate hangover from the Bush era, the message is clear -- Britain is no longer needed. We Brits we have seen our nation described as "nothing special" by the administration and we saw the Obama family insult both our Prime Minister and our Monarch, along with the many policy decisions that include Obama's continual attacks on BP -- referred to incorrectly by Obama as "British Petroleum."
Worst of all, earlier this year, Secretary of State Clinton sided with Argentina in their battle to steal the British Sovereign territory of the Falkland Islands away from Britain. Britain's position is that we have held the islands since 1833, that the overwhelming majority of Falkland Islanders wish to remain British, and that the islands never belonged to Argentina anyway. Despite losing the Falklands War in 1982, Argentina still keep up their claim to the islands, based solely on the fact that the islands are near Argentina.
Britain see the issue as over, and yet Argentina wish to "discuss" the issue, knowing that formal discussions will give credence to their claims and possibly lead to some sort of compromise. Clinton, instead of supporting Britain's claim, has declared America neutral, and then she sided with Argentina by saying that the two nations should "sit down and talk."
Such a reckless attitude has shown not only the administration's contempt for their allies, but has caused Argentina to increase anti-British aggression, safe in the knowledge that America will not intervene should conflict break out. Such a conflict would not only lead to loss of British life, but also stretch our military resources farther.
With this, America has made it clear that Britain plays no significant role in issues abroad, that we are no longer in a "Special Relationship," and that our help will no longer be required. In consequence, it has proven impossible for British conservatives to enunciate why Britain needs to keep military spending at current levels. The British left have stated that Britain is an irrelevant country on the world stage, and Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration have agreed fully. As a result, Britain has drastically reduced military spending.
However, it has backfired.
Obama et al. thought they didn't need Britain in their new world, a world in which Obama would woo the international community singlehandedly. However, having discovered Obama to be about as effective as a bowl of cold soup, it seems that the administration has found a use for its old ally. Now faced with Britain backing down militarily, Mrs. Clinton has panicked and started making noises about how important Britain is, with her talk about "responsibilities," but alas, it is too late.
I come to this conclusion with not one iota of satisfaction. Britain is extremely important in the international fight against tyranny and terror, and the cuts will make Britain, America, and the world significantly less safe than it would normally be, as they will damage Britain's ability to defend itself, it will prevent her from being able to support the U.S. in any unilateral action the latter takes, and it will reduce the force of NATO as a whole.
Mrs. Clinton is right to express concern. However, before she does so, she should recognize the role that she, and the Obama administration as a whole, has played in this worrying new development.