It's the gushing geyser of Obama's animus that needs to be capped
Published in: Daily Mail
When an accident on an oil rig results in an environmental catastrophe, it surely takes a particular genius to turn the oil company involved into the victim.
Yet, remarkably, that is precisely what President Barack Obama appears to have achieved.
When, after many weeks, BP still hadn't managed to prevent its damaged well from spewing tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama turned upon it savagely, saying he would like to sack its chief executive and threatening the company with unlimited financial punishments.
More than that, he appeared to be using the disaster to attack not just BP but Britain, pointedly calling the company 'British Petroleum' -- a name it abandoned many years ago.
Indeed, multinational BP can hardly be called British any more, since it has twice as many American as British employees and almost as many American shareholders as British ones.
So fierce was Obama's onslaught, however, that bankers, diplomats and politicians expressed growing alarm that Obama might end up putting BP out of business altogether. With the oil giant's share price plummeting, there was deep anxiety that British pensions and investments would be lost and a serious blow delivered to the economy.
The cry went up in Britain to stop being nasty to BP -- everywhere, it seems, except from the Conservative end of the British Government pantomime horse.
For last week, the Prime Minister David Cameron conspicuously failed to speak up for BP against Obama's rhetorical onslaught, and instead endorsed his concern about the environmental disaster.
Foreign Secretary William Hague even more cravenly supported Obama, making the incredible claim that he hadn't detected any anti-British tone in what had been said.
Plenty of others, however, were not afflicted by Hague's diplomatic deafness. The anger at Obama was such that it even outweighed the anger at BP over the catastrophe still unfolding on its watch.
There is no doubt BP, as the lead company on the drilling of this well, should shoulder much of the blame. Nevertheless, Obama's behaviour has been seriously out of order.
For a start, the well itself was managed by American companies: Transocean, which owned and operated the rig; Halliburton, the sub-contractor responsible for cementing the well to secure it; and Cameron International, the manufacturer of the blow-out preventer which failed with such tragic results.
Unedifyingly, each is blaming the others for the technical errors that caused the disaster. But from media reports, it appears that none of these American companies noted the warning signs of a dangerous increase in oil pressure under the sea.
Furthermore, Obama himself conspicuously failed to get a grip on the management of the damage control operation -- or even showed an appropriate level of concern until he was prompted.
It seems, therefore, that he turned on BP in a cynical attempt to deflect public anger from his own lacklustre performance, for which purpose it was useful to bash the British.
One might have thought that, despite our special relationship with the U.S., a British Prime Minister would have defended the national interest against such opportunistic and damaging aggression.
It was, in fact, London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, who said what needed to be said: that the 'anti-British rhetoric' against BP was a matter of 'national concern' and that there was a need for 'a bit of cool heads' rather than buck-passing and name-calling.
But Cameron actually supported the man who was doing the anti-British name-calling. Now we are told that at the weekend there was a love-in on the phone between Cameron and Obama.
Obama said he never meant to undermine BP, and the affair had nothing to do with national identity.
Cameron stressed the economic importance of BP to the UK, the U.S. and other countries. Hague said yesterday there had never been any problem over what had been said and that the 'special relationship' was rock solid.
How heartwarming! This was obviously a damage limitation exercise for both sides. But now we can see the result of Cameron's weakness -- that Obama has stepped up his demands of BP even further.
So, what explains Cameron's feeble response? It's hard not to conclude that, in his own mind, he's still running for office.
Accordingly, he is still locked into the need to show the Tories are no longer 'nasty' -- by bashing big business, talking green and praying that some of Obama's 'hopey-changey' stardust settles on himself.
But Cameron is no longer running for office. He is now Prime Minister, and should be defending his country against bullying, whatever the source.
It also seems to have escaped him that the stardust has turned into sawdust, with Obama fighting for his own political life as even his former supporters turn against him over the oil disaster.
Maybe Cameron thought that, by supporting Obama in public, he was protecting Britain's 'special relationship' with America. Undoubtedly, that relationship is crucially important. American power is the ultimate guarantor of western liberty.
But we are allies of the U.S., not its doormat on which the President wipes his shoes. Even special relationships can sour. If one partner starts attacking the other, it isn't possible to carry on as before.
And the fact is that Obama, who appears to labour under a resentment of Britain over its behaviour in his father's homeland, Kenya, seems to have a personal problem with Britain.
Ominously, one of his first acts after taking office was to return to the British a bust of Sir Winston Churchill which had been given to President George W. Bush as a gift.
More worryingly, the U.S. has taken Argentina's side over the Falklands in requiring London and Buenos Aires to negotiate, which is at odds with the British Government's policy and the wishes of the Falkland islanders themselves.
Indeed, there is an argument for saying -- astounding as it may seem -- that Obama is not on America's side either, given the way in which he has been upsetting America's friends around the world while sucking up to its enemies.
The 'special relationship' is important to Britain because America has been its great ally in the defence of freedom and western values. But the U.S. is being led by someone who does not reflect America's traditional values or interests. The irony here is as intense as the danger.
When George W. Bush was President, it was the Brits who wanted out of the special relationship as a result of an ugly anti-Americanism based on the belief that America was the fount of world oppression.
That's why Nick Clegg has spoken out against Obama over BP -- because the left-wing Lib Dems have always been keen to end the 'special relationship' with ' imperialist' America.
But now Obama is swatting Britain aside, many who welcomed him as the antithesis of Bush are having to think again.
What they failed to realise was that Obama was not just anti-Bush but anti-capitalism and anti-West. And so his knee-jerk hostility towards 'colonialist' Britain or 'multinational' BP, while taking the side of dictators and tyrants in the Third World, is deeply damaging to this country, as indeed it is to his own.
Cameron's attempt to pour oil onto BP's troubled waters is, therefore, wildly inappropriate -- and not just as a tasteless metaphor.
It is the gushing geyser of Obama's anti-British and anti-western animus which now so urgently needs to be capped, in order to protect the shores of liberty itself.