Wednesday, November 25, 2009

British Defence Secretary Blasts Obama Over Afghanistan

Bob Ainsworth, Britain's Secretary of State for Defence, criticized President Obama concerning his deliberations over sending additional troops to Afghanistan yesterday while testifying before the House of Commons Defence Committee. Ainsworth characterized President Obama's deliberations as "a period of hiatus":

We have suffered a lot of losses. We have had a period of hiatus while McChrystal's plan and his requested uplift has been looked at in the detail to which it has been looked at over a period of some months, and we have had the Afghan elections, which have been far from perfect let us say. All of those things have mitigated against our ability to show progress... put that on the other side of the scales when we are suffering the kind of losses that we are.’

American-Anglo relations are at their lowest point since The War of 1812. The days of Bush and Blair are long, long gone. Prime Minister Gordon Brown couldn't get a nannosecond of President Obama's time during the opening of the UN General Assembly or at the G-20 in Pittsburgh last September. The White House refused at least five requests from 10 Downing Street to set up a bilateral meeting.

Now, the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi by the Scots last August didn't help Brown's cause. But you knew things were going to be bad between Washington and London the moment Obama returned the bust of Churchill which Blair had lent to Bush after September 11, 2001. To add insult to injury when Brown gave Obama a penholder carved out from the HMS Gannet, an anti-slavery ship; Obama saw fit to give Brown 25 movie DVDs which didn't work because they weren't Region 2 compatible.

It could be that Obama views Brown as a lame duck. If that is the case it will be curious how Obama behaves around Conservative Party leader David Cameron should he be elected Prime Minister. Yet despite all the mistreatment Brown has received at the hands of Obama it appears 10 Downing Street is distancing itself from Ainsworth's remarks. It is worth noting that Ainsworth was only appointed to the Defence post last summer and Brown is said to be considering replacing him with Jack Straw, the current Secretary of State for Justice and former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary during the Blair government.

If Brown does sack Ainsworth it will be an indication that favor with the Obama Administration is a higher priority than the success of the mission in Afghanistan.

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