In March 1955 Winston Churchill resigned from his second tour of duty as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In a farewell to his cabinet he warned "Never be separated from the Americans." Churchill who coined the phrase "Special Relationship" with the United States knew the importance of our alliance.
On this side of the Atlantic it's been a given that we too value the Special Relationship with the mother country. Whenever we need a partner in the world, we always looked first to Great Britain.
Is that changing under Obama? Is the man who promised to repair our alliances about to downgrade the alliance that helped us to achieve victory in World War II and the Cold War?
The first inkling of this was the banishment of the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and the White House.
That symbolic act was followed up with a meeting between President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the White House yesterday where Brown's people had to beg to get any press coverage at all. Requests for the flags and lectern treatment that was standard for visits by the British Prime Minister was turned down.
Writing in The Telegraph, Ian Martin had this to say:
President Barack Obama just plain rude to Britain.Now we learn that Prime Minister Brown was carrying with him a first edition of the eight volume biography of Winston Churchill by Martin Gilbert to present to Obama. Something tells us he need not have bothered. It will likely only pickup dust in the White House library.
Don't call us in future.
By: Iain Martin
Mar 4, 2009
Why couldn't President Obama have put on more of a show for his British guests? He looked like he simply couldn't be bothered.
Number 10 may be content that they just about got away with the visit to the Oval Office yesterday, as Andrew Porter reports from Washington.
But on this side of the Atlantic the whole business looked pretty demeaning. The morning papers and TV last night featured plenty of comment focused on the White House's very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude treatment of a British PM. Squeezing in a meeting, denying him a full press conference with flags etc. The British press corps, left outside for an hour in the cold, can take it and their privations are of limited concern to the public.
But Obama's merely warmish words (one of our closest allies, said with little sincerity or passion) left a bitter taste with this Atlanticist. Especially after his team had made Number 10 beg for a mini press conference and then not even offered the PM lunch.
We get the point, sunshine: we're just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends. Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. The French will be able to offer you first rate support from their catering corps but beyond that you'll be on your own.
When it comes to men, munitions and commitment you'll soon find out why it pays to at least treat the Brits with some manners.