(photo from Journal Scene)
This is a very curious if not troubling act by President Obama. The bust of Churchill, one of the greatest statesman and wartime leaders in human history, which was given to President Bush by PM Blair following the September 11 attacks and where it sat in the Oval Office proudly among other bust of great men, was formally handed back. British officials insisted that he hang on to the gift as a reminder of the “special relationship” that exists between the U.S. and Great Britain, but the response was ”Thanks, but no thanks.”
Winston Churchill is an American icon who is respected and revered arguably more here in the U.S. than in the U.K. So, certainly there is some uneasiness to President Obama’s brash decision to send Churchill packing. Now, a bust of President Lincoln sits in the Oval Office where Churchill bust once sat. Everyone in the world is now well aware of that Lincoln is Obama’s hero so that part doesn’t exactly come as a surprise.
As for Churchill is there any possible motive to the shun?
Churchill has less happy connotations for Mr Obama than those American politicians who celebrate his wartime leadership. It was during Churchill’s second premiership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Among Kenyans allegedly tortured by the colonial regime included one Hussein Onyango Obama, the President’s grandfather.
The rejection of the bust has left some British officials nervously reading the runes to see how much influence the UK can wield with the new regime in Washington. (Telegraph UK)
Apparently, President Obama has taken his Kenyan roots (if that is the case that would be a stretch considering he never lived there, nor kept up with is family there, and has lived a wonderful American life) over his role as President of the United States as the guarantor of the alliance between the U.S. and Great Britain. In the same breathe, this will hardly hinder the relationship between the two nations, but does reveal Obama’s anti-anglo-old-ways-establishment-view that he clearly talks about in his books and listened to during church services. I hate to stir the coals with the un-American and un-patriotic rants, but this act seems so very…un-American, strange, and unbecoming of a U.S. President when one considers the weight and history behind that connection, which is best symbolized by Sir Winston Churchill.
Obama’s surprise decision to send Churchill home is both wrong-headed and crassly insensitive towards America’s closest ally, coming at a time when nearly 9,000 British troops are fighting alongside their American counterparts in Afghanistan. With good reason, there are growing doubts in the UK over the new President’s commitment to the Special Relationship. The President has never even mentioned the Anglo-American alliance in a major policy speech, and has little affinity for Britain.
The Special Relationship is vital to American and British interests on many levels, from military, diplomatic, and intelligence cooperation to transatlantic trading ties. If President Obama does not invest in its preservation, the end result will be a weaker United States that is less able to stand up to terrorism and tyranny, and project power and influence on the world stage.
Here is a list that Will Inboden has thrown together advising PM Brown not to bring with him to replace Churchill.
We can hope that Brown will present a bust of an inspiring notable such as a Thatcher, Lloyd George, Gladstone, or Disraeli. But then Brown has not distinguished himself as very politically adroit or attuned to the ingredients of greatness. And he does have at least a few bad options to consider. Here are three former British prime ministers whom I hope Brown will not present to Obama for display in the Oval Office:
1. Jim Callaghan, the British Jimmy Carter, who presided over the disastrous recession, stagflation, labor strife, and all-around misery of the late 1970s, and whose failure to undertake the needed free market reforms paved the way for Thatcher’s rise to power.
2. Lord Frederick North, who led the way in raising taxes on the American people. Yes, on Americans. Lord North governed from 1770-1782.
3. And of course, Neville Chamberlain, who made good on his promise to engage in dialogue without preconditions with the foremost tyrant of the day.
I suppose the reader can make his or her own judgements by President Obama’s prerogative to send the bust back to its rightful owners. Of course, President Obama has not released any sort of statement on the issue so any motive is speculative.