Shooting yourself in the foot is an easy thing to do. Shooting yourself in the face however requires a special talent for imbecility. Even former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney could only manage to shoot his best friend in the face.
Prime Minister David Cameron, until this week, was doing so well in his handling of the increasingly one – way “special relationship Britain is alleged to enjoy with the United States of America. He had stated publicly and quite firmly that his government would not be as servile towards U.S. administrations as his predecessors Blair and Brown had been. He had explained the economic facts of life to Barack Obama who thinks the global economy runs on monopoly money. He had even let it be known that the coalition government were drawing up plans to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan by 2014. And he had distanced himself from BP and their attendant scandals thus avoiding the risk of bestowing credibility on Obama’s references to British Petroleum, a name that has been obsolete for many years.
So where did it all go wrong. Whatever possessed the usually surefooted Cameron to say in a speech to an American audience that in 1940, during World War 2 Britain had been the junior partner in the alliance against Hitler and his allies. At that time the Yanks were skulking across the pond pretending the war in Europe was nothing to do with them but content to let Britain’s colonial army in India hold the western front against the Japanese.
Diplomacy that’s why. Those dicks in the foreign office. Diplomats have the easiest life in the world. They sit around in luxurious mansions located in the most exclusive areas of foreign capitals scoffing Ferrero Rocher and smarming up to Johnny Foreigner. Want some preening, posing Third World tyrant to spend some of his IMF conscience money on British warplanes? Get a Diplomat to smarm up to the shit and tell him how admired his fascistic regime is in London. Want to persuade the dictator of some former Soviet republic who deals with political opponents by boiling them alive to sell us oil / iron ore / grain at knockdown prices? Send a diplomat to smarm up to him by saying his efforts to establish democracy in his land have impressed everyone in Britain.
That’s what the Ferrero Rocher scoffing oozemerchants do. Hardly surprising then that our people in Washington were getting a bit antsy. It is well known Obama is as petulant as a spoiled five year old when people do not worship him fervently enough and even worse when somebody disagrees with him. It was inevitable then when Cameron arrived in Washington having travelled by scheduled flight to JFK airport and rail from New York (another dig at Obama who orders up Air Force 1 and has a motorcade laid on to take him from his bedroom to the Oval Office) the boys and girls at the Embassy would be wanting a word.
“Look Dave” they might have said, “You’re going to have to smarm him. He hasn’t forgiven the British for clapping his ancestors in chains, throwing them in a slave ship and taking them from Africa to the British colonies in Kenya to work as slaves on the plantations or for engineering the Irish Potato famine just to persecute his Irish ancestors the O’ Bamas.” Big them up, they’re all emotionally needy. Tell them they won World War 2 and we were just their sidekicks. If you don’t smooth things over he might break off diplomatic relations and send us home and then we will have to get proper jobs and do some work. Smarm him and it will be right
Smarming the Yanks might charm the Yanks but to say that Britain was America’s Junior Partner when in fact in 1940 we stood alone against the mighty Werhmacht, we fought them on the beaches, in the fields, in the pubs and pie shops, the brothels and we never surrendered is the very worst thing a British Prime Minister could do in the eyes of the home crowd, particularly when Nick Clegg is his deputy.
It is always wrong to listen to the professional smarmers of the Foreign Office, they smarm for England, literally. They smarm when confrontation is needed. In 1939 such people told Chamberlain to smarm Hitler and we could avoid war. Look what happened next. If Churchill had gone to that meeting in Munich he’d have nutted the Kraut, if Nye Bevan had been their he would have kicked Hitler in the bollocks.
This had damaged Cameron’s premiership. Can he recover? Maybe, but only if at the next summit he slaps Putin on the head like Benny Hill used to do with a little bald bloke.
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