reassurance makes strength or good excuse to skip town?

While the US Congress was overjoyed with a visit meant to reassure about the  Israeli-American friendship, our own president was addressing the British Parliament with the following:

“It is wrong to conclude that the rise of countries like China, India and Brazil means the end of American and European leadership.  Even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable.”

Moreover, president Obama stated that the United States and Britain remained “indispensable” nations for peace and stability and the “greatest catalysts for global action” in a time of war, terrorism and economic insecurity.

Equally reassuring, indeed. 

Except that Germany and Japan are drawn into different orbits, while the Chinese are growing more nervous, if not assertive, by the day.  Not to mention that the Brits see things differently as far as: a) tackling the economic crisis, b) military budgets, c) Libyan priorities, or d) the upcoming September vote at the UN when the Arab League intends to propose the recognition of the Palestinian state.   

What's going on here, had we been liked and respected only as long as we could pay our way, or we've departed too much from what others saw and liked about us?  

Do we even know or remember what it was?  How we got there or how we lost it?


vox populi said...


We are doing this to protect the Libyan people for "humanitarian" reasons. That is why we are bombing them...Hey, isn't this what the Left criticized the Bush administration and called them criminals?? Never mind. Guess since this is being done by the Obama Administration it has the seal of the Nobel Peace Prize!?


"World needs US-UK leadership."

I wonder how he figures. Has he asked the world? And what did Chinese say? What do Germans think? Russians?

How about us Americans, don't we need a little leadership, as our standards of living are plummeting with each passing day???

Gary B. Brumback, PhD
Palm Coast, FL

The international actions of the U.S. speak far louder, cruelly, and bloodily than any address promoting peace by any U.S. president or member of Congress. America has been the most warring nation since the end of WWII, not to achieve peace but to achieve corporate profits and political power.

Hard to believe? No, hard to endure.

Gary Brumback

ed g
Warwick, NY

Bush and whatever his name from Great (?) Britain said that the war in Iraq...

Obama and whatever his name from Great (?) Britain said the war in Libya....

Now that is change.


The Anglo-Saxon mafia and its history of benevolence! The conceit to appoint your country (and its lap dog) head of the world. That's what the UN is for.

Dana Point, CA

No it does not. The world needs the US to get its economic house in order and focus on its own problems such as education, infrastructure, elimination of waste, return to a real capitalistic society where banks and special interest groups no longer control and dictate who gets bailed out, who gets record bonuses a year after bailouts, which company gets to survive, etc. and a stop to our military adventures thousands of miles away.


Does this man remember the words "Days, not weeks"? Here is a person who cannot get through a state dinner without referring to note cards, making life and death decisions for people in situations about which he has zero experience, and zero competency.

vox populi said...

Domingo Tavella
San Francisco

The world does not need US and UK leadership. The world needs the US and Britain to stick to their own business and stop interfering.

The Taliban would not have emerged if the US had not interfered in Afghanistan funding the Muyahadin to overthrow the Afghan government.

Al-Queda would not exist if the US had not set up military bases in Saudi Arabia.

Iran would be a democracy if Britain with American help had not torpedoed the Iranian democratic movement in the 1950's and installed the Shah. The list goes on and on.

The world would be a much better place without US and UK "leadership".

Ted Morgan
Baton Rouge

Good grief. We do some good deeds--some important ones, but gosh, this is just too much. We cannot even provide medical care for ourselves but we want to run the world. Egad!


Who's going to pay for that leadership? NOT the US anymore.

This "I'm an amazing statesman" stuff comes from inflated egos and fiscal irresponsibility!


Paddy Singh
Salisbury, UK

This is the first time that Obama has made many of laugh, after his very thought of what to say speeches. I certainly do not agree - the US never after having messed up with Vietnam, Latin America, the Middle East, Afghanistan and the British as long as they play lapdog to the Americans. The Americans are still fighting two wars without victory in sight, the British are now trying to police the world - all this while their citizens dip deeper into poverty without hope for another tomorrow.

Jim K
San Jose, CA

Yeah, I'm sure the rest of the world is overjoyed at the prospect of more American "leadership"...

New York, NY

Now here's a man who really believes in American Exceptionalism! And he's willing to put our money and our lives where his mouth is. A true patriot!

Berkshire, England

It is beginning to look to me as if Cameron is Obama's poodle. If so, then it is time to end the 'special relationship'.

West Sider

"World needs US-UK leadership."

How can one lead while demonstrating to the world how it gets its orders from a 'lobby group'?

mr. x

we could all do with a little less "global action" and a little more global intelligence


I'm sorry, but I find it hard to believe that America and Britain are currently forces of stability. We are still recovering from the greatest economic calamity since the Depression: a disaster precipitated by the Street and the City and their insatiable appetite for easy profit. Get these cesspools under control, and I will start to believe Obama's assertion. Also, a successful withdrawal from a self-governing Iraq and Afghanistan would help to undermine the perception of Western imperial aggression.


"Special Relationship" since the end of the Cold War is simply a way for the UK to amplify what little power it has left by pretending to have a major influence on US foreign policy. The UK needs the relationship much more than USA as the military and economic power of USA has been so much larger than UKs for decades. And as presented in the British popular press/media, it depends upon the illusion that the big dumb ox yanks needs the clever, wordly and sophisticated Brits to guide USA with their magnificient knowledge of all things international.

UK participation in Iraq war pretty much put an end to that idea...

fCh said...

Robert Gates

"But as I am fond of saying, we live in the real world. Absent a catastrophic international conflict or a new existential threat, we are not likely to return to Cold War levels of defense expenditures, at least as a share of national wealth, anytime soon. Nor do I believe we need to."

Die Zeit said...

about the recent visit of the German Chancellor, Merkel, at the White House.

"Sometimes praise is harder to bear than criticism. ... Those who give praise expect something in return. And those who accept praise soon find themselves faced with the expectation that they behave accordingly."

"Obama showered Germany and the chancellor with praise. Germany is a global leader. It is at the center of Europe and the key to everything the US wants to achieve abroad. But some would reject this: We don't want to be that important."

"He lauded Angela Merkel as a 'good friend and one of my closest global partners.' He marveled at her life story, saying she embodied the promise of freedom and is an inspiration to people around the world."

"What a contrast to her image in Germany! That is why many will shrug this off as flattery or a refined strategy for extracting concessions."

"But what if Germans open up and listen impartially and listen to how the most powerful man in the world sees them and their chancellor? Obama didn't exaggerate … Don't hide behind your history, said the president. Act in accordance with your importance."

"Naturally Obama wants to provoke something with the praise, though it's nothing scurrilous. It's the general assumption of more German responsibility, especially in the Arab world and Libya right now. ... As in 1989, it's about more freedom. Obama trusts the Germans. That's no reason to be dismayed."

Süddeutsche Zeitung said...

about the recent visit of the German Chancellor, Merkel, at the White House.

"The relationship between Merkel's Germany and Obama's America was never really bad or plagued by distrust. In fact, the chancellor and the president are more similar than they would probably like to admit. But these relations have changed -- indeed, none of Obama's relationships with other countries work according to the traditional model. Obama doesn't surround himself with his favorites in the way his predecessor George W. Bush did, a man who viewed people as only friends or enemies. Obama is a modern super realist who has one thing in sight -- the situation in his own country, where things aren't going well. America is overwhelmed as a force of global order."

"Obama doesn't need admirers -- he needs modern allies who can take work off his hands. America's new friends are not the tagalongs from the old alliance days, but the problem solvers of today. One shouldn't count the firecrackers in front of the White House, but rather the number of political projects that could bring together the common interests of America, a superpower, and Germany, the engine of Europe's economy."

"Because this is what Obama and Merkel have learned in this era of super realists: Those who allow themselves to be divided (think Libya) lose. Friendship no longer arises out of pure loyalty to alliances, but through talking with each other -- and delivering in the end."

Die Tageszeitung said...

about the recent visit of the German Chancellor, Merkel, at the White House.

"It is rarely a good sign for a relationship when one has to dig deep into the past and peer far into the future to demonstrate some semblance of a convincing harmony. ... But an artful performance isn't enough if conflicts are too obvious to ignore."

"The interests are no longer as congruent as they were between Western Europe and the US during the Cold War. That's why minor differences of opinion that already existed before have gained significance. That comes out with Libya, for instance, but also with the Greece crisis, where debt rescheduling with the involvement of private creditors also threatens US investment banks."

"Against this background it's necessary to take a verbal inventory with the aim of defining tangible similarities. They exist, but they need to be named. And the same goes for differences in interests. Otherwise all claims of friendship seem stale. And a shiny medal can't change that."

Handelsblatt said...

about the recent visit of the German Chancellor, Merkel, at the White House.

"The excessive American hospitality this week comes with a crystal clear agenda. The US wants Germany to take responsibility on a number of points -- as financier of reconstruction in the Arab world, as an anchor of stability in the euro turbulence and as a political heavy lifter in the Middle East."

"The pragmatic Americans quickly realized the advantages that arose from Germany's surprising abstention on the Libya vote. Berlin's veering off course, which caused consternation among the career diplomats in the State Department, paves the way for compensation measures. Obama makes no secret of this."

"In turn, Washington has avoided public criticism of Germany's decision to go its own way, instead building bridges. Germany couldn't have been more easily forgiven for its faux pas."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Washington this week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom said...

fCh said...

Stephen Walt

Make no mistake: these developments do not mean the United States is facing terminal decline, or about to drop out of the major power category. As I told the 2009 Strategy Forum, unlike Europe or Japan, the U.S. population is still increasing and America's long-term power potential remains high. The U.S. economy is still the world's most diverse and technologically sophisticated, and our military power will remain formidable even if defense budget faces significant cuts (as it should). The United States is not about to decline the same way that Britain did after World War II; in fact, it is almost certain to be the world's single most powerful state for some time to come.


The aftertaste is that of bromides. I understand this is damage control, but nobody knows where it lands. Meanwhile, State Secretary Clinton warns Africa of "New Colonialism:"

...a creeping "new colonialism" from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting the continent's natural resources to enrich themselves and not the African people.
Clinton said Saturday that African leaders must ensure that foreign projects are sustainable and benefit all their citizens, not only elites. A day earlier, she cautioned that China's massive investments and business interests in Africa need to be closely watched so that the African people are not taken advantage of.
She says that American development aid and infrastructure projects come with good governance conditions.


Neocolonialism would have been too close to the status qvo, let's untangle it and have the Clintonesque "new colonialism." It's good to know we go in with good governance--hear that Nigeria?

Popular Posts