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For the past three years I have published a list of Barack Obama’s biggest insults (including those of his administration) against America’s foremost ally, Great Britain, during his time in office. Here is an updated list to accompany President Obama’s meeting with David Cameron at the White House today. The major additions this year are the snubbing of Lady Thatcher’s funeral by the Obama administration, as well as attempts by senior allies of President Obama in the Senate to hold up a resolution honouring the Iron Lady. In addition, the Obama presidency has further entrenched its pro-Argentine position on the Falklands, and has also lectured Britain on its Europe policy, warning the UK against leaving the European Union, in a blatant attempt to influence an internal British public debate.
Since first taking office in 2009, the Obama presidency has displayed what can only be described as a sneering disdain and contempt for America’s most important ally, an approach which has continued into Obama’s second term. Barack Obama has been the most anti-British US president of modern times, even kicking off his first term with a decision to remove a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and send it packing to the British Embassy. He followed this with a sustained campaign against Britain’s biggest company, with his press secretary Robert Gibbs threatening to put a “boot to the throat” of BP in the wake of the Gulf oil spill of 2010.
The Obama administration has also sided with Argentine president Cristina Kirchner in calling for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, and flat out refuses to back the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination despite the recent referendum which showed that 99.8 percent of the inhabitants of the Falklands wish to remain a British Overseas Territory.

1. Siding with Argentina over the Falkland Islands
This has remained the top insult for four years running. For sheer offensiveness it’s hard to beat the Obama administration’s brazen support for Argentina’s call for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, despite the fact that 255 British servicemen laid down their lives to restore British rule over the Islands after they were brutally invaded in 1982. In a March 2010 press conference in Buenos Aires with President Cristina Kirchner, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Argentina a propaganda coup by emphatically backing the position of the Péronist regime.
In June 2011, Mrs. Clinton slapped Britain in the face again by signing on to an Organisation of American States (OAS) resolution calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a position which is completely unacceptable to Great Britain. To add insult to injury, the Obama administration has insisted on using the Argentine term “Malvinas” to describe the Islands in yet another sop to Buenos Aires. In 2012, against a backdrop of growing aggression by Argentina, including efforts to blockade international vessels fishing in Falkland waters, the Obama administration continued to undercut Britain, again supporting direct negotiations between Argentina and Britain, parroting Kirchner's line.
In 2013, the Obama administration declined to formally recognise the result of the March Falklands referendum, reiterating its call for London and Buenos Aires to negotiate the sovereignty of the Islands – despite the fact that 99.8 percent of Falkland Islanders voted to remain a British Overseas Territory. At a press briefing following the referendum, a senior State Department official treated Britain and Argentina as equals with “competing claims” to the Falklands, and refused to support the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination. This is hugely insulting to Britain, not least at a time when 10,000 British troops are fighting alongside their American allies on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

2. Snubbing the funeral of Lady Thatcher
Incredibly, the Obama presidency declined to send a single serving official from Washington to attend the Iron Lady’s funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral in April. While the United States was represented by former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James A. Baker III, the only American official present was Barbara Stephenson, charges d’affaires and acting ambassador at the US Embassy in London. To put this in context, the US sent a similar level of representation, in terms of serving officials, to attend the funeral in March of Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez.
To say this was a huge insult to the memory of the greatest peacetime prime minister of the 20th Century would be an understatement. It was an act of tremendous rudeness towards the British people, who turned out in large numbers to bid farewell to Lady Thatcher as her coffin was carried through central London on its way to St. Paul’s. Vice President Joe Biden usually represents the president at such occasions, but was a no-show despite receiving an invitation. Also absent were First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also nowhere to be seen.

3. Holding up a Senate Resolution honouring Lady Thatcher
Disgracefully, Senate Democrats – key Congressional allies of President Obama, representing his own party – held up a Senate resolution honouring the life and legacy of Margaret Thatcher for several days, before it was finally passed unanimously the day before her funeral. Senior Democrats, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, attempted to remove references in the resolution to the Falklands War and to IRatteA terrorism, but relented in the face of strong Republican condemnation. The White House remained silent on the matter. As Senate Republican leader, and sponsor of the resolution, Mitch McConnell remarked, “Margaret (Thatcher) was one of the most influential and revolutionary figures of the 20th Century, and failing to name her achievements would do her memory and her legacy a great disservice. It would be unheard of to commemorate Churchill for example and ignore his heroic role in steering his countrymen through the Battle of Britain, nor would we think of honoring Lincoln without mentioning the Civil War.”

4. Lecturing Britain against leaving the EU
The Obama administration has attempted to intervene on several occasions over the past few months on the issue of British membership of the European Union. In an interview with Adam Boulton on Sky News, outgoing US Ambassador to London, Louis Susman, made it clear that Washington is firmly opposed to Britain leaving the EU:

From our viewpoint it is something that won’t help us – not without speaking for the United Kingdom… We believe strongly it’s in America’s interests to have a strong EU – it’s the key to trading and to certain diplomatic matters and intelligence matters and military matters. And for our best ally not to be a strong voice there, not to be there, frankly we don’t think it’s in our interests.

Susman was echoing the remarks made by Philip Gordon, then US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, who declared that British membership of the EU is “in the American interest” and made clear his support for the EU speaking with “a single voice.” The comments naturally sparked outrage among Conservative MPs. Barack Obama himself has even phoned the British prime minister to express his view that a British EU exit would weaken US-British ties.

As I noted in a previous post on the US Ambassador’s intervention:

Susman’s remarks illustrate how the Obama presidency likes to pay lip service to the Special Relationship, while actively undercutting it on the European stage by backing ever-closer union in Europe, and the evolution of a federal EU. Obama administration officials parrot the language of the European Commission, as though their words were dictated by Jose Manuel Barroso or Herman Van Rompuy. It is a sad state of affairs when the world’s superpower effectively outsources its Europe policy to an unelected, unaccountable and anti-American entity in Belgium.

5. Throwing Churchill out of the Oval Office
It is hard to think of a more derogatory message to send to the British people within days of taking office than to fling a bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office and send it packing back to the British Embassy – not least as it was a loaned gift from Britain to the United States as a powerful display of solidarity in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Obviously, public diplomacy is not a concept that carries much weight in the current White House, and nor apparently is common sense. Four years on, the Churchill bust incident continues to embarrass the Obama White House, and remains a sad symbol of this administration’s contempt for the Special Relationship as well as one of the greatest figures in British history.

6. Placing a “boot on the throat” of BP
The Obama administration’s relentless campaign against Britain’s largest company in the wake of the Gulf oil spill was one of the most damaging episodes in US-UK relations in recent years, with 64 percent of Britons agreeing at the time that the president’s handling of the issue had harmed the partnership between the two countries according to a YouGov poll. The White House’s aggressive trashing of BP, including a threat to put a “boot on the throat” of the oil giant, helped wipe tens of billions of pounds from its share value, directly impacting the pensions of millions of Britons. This led to a furious backlash in the British press, with even London mayor and long-time Obama admirer Boris Johnson demanding an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling”.

7. Using a State Dinner for the British Prime Minister as a campaign event
In March 2012, the White House used an official state dinner for David Cameron to reward over 40 top Obama re-election campaign financiers with coveted seats at the taxpayer-funded banquet. Collectively, the campaign bundlers had raised more than $10 million for Obama’s 2012 presidential run. I wrote in a Telegraph piece on the day of the event:

A state dinner with the British PM should be a celebration of the US-UK Special Relationship, and not a reward ticket for hugely wealthy fundraisers who have given large sums of money to the president’s re-election campaign. David Cameron has been shamelessly used by a cynical White House that has cared little for the Anglo-American alliance in its first three years in office before rolling out the red carpet this week. It is disrespectful towards the leader of America’s closest friend and ally, as well as an abuse of presidential power.

8. DVDs for the Prime Minister
This insult has featured in all four editions, not least because it remains a powerful example of breathtaking diplomatic ineptitude that would have shamed the protocol office of an impoverished Third World country. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was treated extremely shabbily when he visited the White House in March 2009, and was sent home with an assortment of 25 DVDs ranging from Toy Story to The Wizard of Oz – which couldn’t even be played in the UK.

9. Insulting words from the State Department
The mocking views of a senior State Department official following Gordon Brown's embarrassing reception at the White House in March 2009 says it all:

There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.

10. Calling France America’s strongest ally
In January 2011, President Obama held a joint press conference at the White House with his French counterpart, gushing with praise for Washington’s new-found Gallic friends, declaring: “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.” As I noted at the time:
Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the US president is difficult to fathom, and if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in US foreign policy. Nicolas Sarkozy is a distinctly more pro-American president than any of his predecessors, and has been an important ally over issues such as Iran and the War on Terror. But to suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous.
These kinds of presidential statements matter. No US president in modern times has described France as America’s closest ally, and such a remark is not only factually wrong but also insulting to Britain, not least coming just a few years after the French famously knifed Washington in the back over the war in Iraq. In November 2012, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano repeated her president’s line, telling a French audience that “we have no greater partner than France, we have no greater ally than France.”

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