Saturday, April 23, 2016

Responding to Obama

You can reasonably say that you are interested in whatever advice your friends and allies want to share and you in turn will be frank with them.

Or you can say that each country's affairs are their own business.

But if you loudly welcome each intervention be a foreign statesman which you agree with, while condemning those which you don't agree with as unwelcome interference, there is a word for people like you.

If you said nothing about Obama's comments encouraging Scotland to stay in the UK but bitterly criticised his encouragement for the UK to stay in the EU, there is a word for you.

And the word is hypocrite.

If your argument is that leaving the EU is a way to build better trade links with nations all round the world, it's relevant what foreign nations think.

I can't believe that a normally sensible and intelligent minister said that President Obama's remarks do not reflect US trade policy. But apparently he did.

Ironically, if the supporters of Leave had kept quiet about the Obama visit, and said afterwards that "He has his opinion and we have ours" or "I agree with President Obama that this is a decision for the British people," then the President's speech might have had some impact, but not much.

Indeed, if attention had then focussed on Obama's "get to the back of the queue" remarks those certainly had the potential to annoy the British public.

As it is I think the ungentlemanly tone of comments from Leave like "Butt out Barack" let alone things like the comments about his Kenyan ancestry have not shown the leave side in a good light.

Jonathan Freedland argued in the Guardian yesterday that the attitude of the leave camp to President Obama had highlighted the way President Obama had crushed the Brexit fantasy and turned a blow into a disaster for their side.

He may be reading into it what he wants to read into it, but I think Freedland has a point.


Jim said...

I said nothing on the presidents comments regarding Scotland, In fact I pretty much said myself at the time its a decision for the People of Scotland, so I pretty much kept out of that one myself.

However this is getting silly, or should that be even sillier? I mean honestly lets just stop and think about this for a moment.

President Obama is on the second day of his visit to the UK, going round campaigning for people to vote to remain in the EU.

Yes that's right, The president of a nation which was prepared and did fight a very bloody war so it could get out of a system by which it was ruled by a government over which its people had no democratic control, Is trying to persuade a foreign nation to democratically vote to remain within a system so it is ruled by a government over which its people have no democratic control.

Makes perfect sense.

Chris Whiteside said...

I don't buy the comparison between the status of the 13 colonies in 1776, as being ruled by a UK government thousands of miles away in which they had no say whatsoever, as being remotely comparable to Britain's status in the EU today.

Our elected ministers sit in the European council, we nominate a commissioner to the European commission, we elect MEPs to the European parliament and Britain nominates Judges to the European Court of Justice.

Obama is entitled to his opinion but as he rightly said, the decision belongs entirely to the British people. Those who think he's wrong can and should ignore him.

It should have been impossible for those who think that way to find friendlier ways of expressing that opinion than many MPs, MEPs and ministers did.