Oh dear ! America and Britain have fallen out in a big way ! Correction — President Obama has let loose what he really thinks of this country and its colonizing past. When he told Atlantic magazine that Britain and France had made a mess of their stewardship of Libya once Gaddafi has been overthrown, it was immediately followed up in a flurry of diplomatic notes between America and this country to say that both countries were still the best of friends and that they still had a ‘special relationship’ !
Obama must have deeply angered David Cameron — or, rather, George Osborne, the real Prime Minister) a great deal for all this reconciliation to have erupted. But, traditionally, America has always felt the same about this country ever since it fought us for independence in the 1780s. America was particularly hard on us during the Second World War when, at the Bretton Woods monetary conference in 1942, Harry Dexter White almost hammered our chief negotiator, John Maynard Keynes, into the ground when making sure that only the American dollar, not the British pound, would reign supreme as the dominant world trading currency from then onwards.
There has been no ‘special relationship’ between the two countries, apart from many personal relationships and the common language. It was Winston Churchill who made the first claim to s special relationship, and several prime ministers since, but no American president as made a big deal out of it.
So there was nothing surprising in what Obama told Atlantic. What I find interesting is that Obama, now in his final year — with a certain place in the history books due to Obamacare — is letting his hair down. I’ve been greatly intrigued by Barack Obama’s personality. He’s always seemed excessively guarded to me but we might see more of it between now and November when the next president is chosen. Will he be inclined to become a fortune hunter like Clinton or will he still want to be of public service like Carter? I couldn’t bet either way at present.