Obama’s remarks also appear to be something of a snub to British Prime Minister David Cameron, coming just a month after the two leaders engaged in an orgy of mutual admiration during Cameron’s state visit to the US – although you won’t hear the star-struck Cameron say as much.
It’s no surprise to see Obama appearing to side with an aspiring South American dictator rather than a friend and ally who’s committed to democracy and the rule of law; after all, if you’re happy to sell your own country down the river to a hostile rival, as the president suggested in his overheard remarks on missile defence to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, then throwing an ostensible ally under the bus isn’t going to give you too many sleepless nights. The only question is to what extent his position is dictated by the need to appeal to Hispanic voters in the upcoming election campaign, and how much it’s a product of his anti-imperialist, liberation theology-infused worldview.
While Obama’s stance is predictable, it should be noted that Republican support for Britain over the Falklands isn’t a given. As this account by John O’Sullivan, based on recently released documents, recalls, when Argentina invaded in 1982 the Reagan administration was initially divided over how to respond, with “Latinistas” including Jeane Kirkpatrick and Alexander Haig backing Argentina, and Reagan himself initially favouring a negotiated settlement. However, when war became inevitable the US threw its support behind Britain, providing intelligence and the latest version of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, which claimed several Argentinian aircraft.
As Britain and Argentina mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war, it would be reassuring to hear Mitt Romney come out on the campaign trail, or in a foreign policy debate, in support of British sovereignty, and make clear which side America would take in the event of hostilities during a Romney presidency. It might help to dissuade Argentina from doing something reckless, and more pressingly it would provide another clear distinction between Romney and the dictator-coddling Obama who, not for the first time, has shown disloyalty to an ally bordering on treachery.