Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stiffing Brown

The grumbling fallout from the Gordon Brown visit continues. From what the Sunday Telegraph reports, we really are dealing with Amateur Hour in Washington:

British officials . . . admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted [a] full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.
Weren't these supposed to be the "smart" people? The ones who could rebuild all those tattered alliances that George W. Bush supposedly tore into shreds with his cowboy lack of understanding about the rest of the world?
A British official conceded that the furor surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. "I think it's right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn't quite understand the British concerns and didn't get what that was all about."
Well, I for one feel much safer knowing the same White House that will be divining the intentions and motivations of the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and assorted other dangerous actors in this world can't even understand the British...
Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.
I predict a lot of these phone calls over the next four years. Hopefully, the White House still has a good long-distance plan.
The real views of many in [the] Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "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."
God help us all...

No, Mr. State Department official. Britain is not the same as the other 190 countries in the world. And neither is Canada. Or Australia. Or Poland, for that matter. They're what we call allies.

And you don't treat allies this way. Not if you want them to stay allies. President Obama even campaigned on this very issue. But then, what's one more campaign promise out the window?

Welcome to our brave new world of "smart" diplomacy...

UPDATE: Mark Steyn asks another important question: "I’ll be interested to know if Mr. Brown has anything to play the films on back home, since U.S.-format DVDs don’t work in United Kingdom DVD players."