Josh Mead: So President Obama thinks France is America's greatest ally? As an American, I hope this ludicrous suggestion won't harm transatlantic relations
The Daily Mail yesterday reported how President Obama stated his belief that France is the greatest ally to the United States, declaring:
“We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.”
Did you notice something missing from that statement, perhaps the words “United Kingdom”?
This isn’t the first time that this President has snubbed the UK. We don’t have to go that far back. Day 47 of the Obama Presidency shows this President’s complete lack of understanding of how you treat proper allies when Gordon Brown came to the U.S.
He was denied a joint press conference with President and a formal dinner. Also, Gordon Brown presented Obama gifts that had symbolic and special meaning including a penholder, made from the wood of a warship which helped to stop the slave trade. Obama’s gift to Brown? Those infamous 25 DVDS, which I hope worked on UK DVD players.
Whilst that is just a minor example, the real issue here is utter hypocrisy and complete lack of respect for the UK. In February 2009 Secretary of State Clinton fervently issued her belief in the Special Relationship by saying "whoever is in the White House, whichever party in our country, this relationship really stands the test of time and I look forward to working with the foreign secretary."
Fast forward to today and it appears that the mood has changed in a dramatic way. I am not being myopic with my assessment or vainly naive, but simple facts and history contradict the very idea that France is the biggest ally.
Perhaps Mr. Obama should remember the nearly 10,000 soldiers serving in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, compared to just 3,850 Frenchman. Without wishing to denigrate the sacrifices made by French troops, the UK has lost nearly 350 troops, seven times as many as France.
And if we want to go further back to 2003, it was the UK who stood on a limb and side to side with the US as it presented its case against Iraq and later went to war. As of January 2011, 179 British troops had been killed in Iraq.
Whilst I won’t labour the point on this very contentious issue, I would personally like to thank all British service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and reiterate my strong and steadfast belief that history’s records show a very different view of who is the greatest U.S. ally. I hope that Mr. Obama’s ludicrous remarks won’t further harm trans-Atlantic relations, but I fear that this type of disregard will leave a lasting impression.
Perhaps Mr. Obama should listen to Mr. Sarkozy when he said “that we live in the real world, not the virtual world. The real world expects us to take decisions”.
Whilst the UK has taken more than its fair share of these decisions, France hasn’t. It’s a travesty to suggest otherwise.