Coffee House

In 2013, Obama sees peace. Cameron sees war.

21 January 2013

6:23 PM

21 January 2013

6:23 PM

Barack Obama has just delivered an upbeat inauguration address, proclaiming that a “a decade of war is ending”. Just a few moments earlier David Cameron gave MPs a blood-sweat-toil-and-tears speech, preparing us all for a “generational” struggle against African jihadis. So what’s up? Freddy Gray spells it out in a brilliant and timely analysis: Britain and America’s global interest are diverging. Obama is now, in effect, a Pacific president rather than an Atlantic president (as almost all of his others have been). Hawaii-born, Indonesia-schooled, he has always grown up seeing the world in a slightly different way. And he just doesn’t see these African tribes as so big a deal, certainly not an existential threat that Cameron appears to speak about.

So let’s compare the speeches. For Cameron, there are storm clouds hurtling through the sky:

“We must frustrate the terrorists with our security, we must beat them militarily, we must address the poisonous narrative they feed on; we must close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive; and we must deal with the grievances they use to garner support. This is the work that our generation faces, and we must demonstrate the same resolve and sense of purpose as previous generations have with the challenges that they’ve faced in this House and in this country.”


And Obama’s message: here comes the sun

“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”

The only mention of “tyranny” made by the President was a reference to colonial  rule by the British crown. But as Freddy says, it’s not that Obama doesn’t like us. The truth is more hurtful: he’s just not that into us. For him, the future lies in the East – and the West’s problems with troublesome African tribes is not too big a  blip on his horizon. We have just watched the inauguration of the Pacific President. Do read the whole piece here.

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Show comments
  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Obama isn’t interested in Europe or ‘old colonial’ Britain …. but he’s interested enough to instruct our Prime Minister that the UK must remain in the EU or incur his wrath.
    It would be lovely to think that Cameron told him bluntly to butt out …. but of course he didn’t, not because he’s too well-mannered, because he is too weak.

  • Tom Tom

    Obama has to watch Japan and China prepare for war. Japan has threatened to shoot at Chinese aircraft after F15s were tailed by Chinese fighters. The Pacific is where war will break out and where the US needs to keep its forces. Camaron will be increasing Defence Spending to match his rhetoric so Obama can scale back US Defence Subsidies to Europe

  • d knight

    Lucky the US has no strategic interests in North Africa……

    Being a Pacific President is just as bad as an Atlantic President

    • David Lindsay

      Not for Britain, it isn’t.

      • d knight

        Both the UK and US have global interests

        Whatever Obama may say he cannot focus solely on the Pacific

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Actually, AFRICOM is the US’ prime command these days. That’s where the action is, and will remain. The Mideast is nettlesome at best and deadly at worst, and AFRICOM is tasked with seeing the islamofascist contagion doesn’t spread beyond the Sahara. They’ve stumbled a bit in Mali, apparently.

      The other piece of it is to keep the Chicoms from colonizing Africa. The Chicoms aren’t really a military threat, but economically they can squeeze the West, and they do require resources in order to do that. This is a convenient chain to be yanked.

      • David Lindsay

        The Chinese are really only going to Africa in order to secure the food supply necessary for them to give up their extremely un-Confucian one child policy.

        But even if they had a less pure motive (although like what, exactly?), then there would be absolutely nothing that the West could do to stop them. The world has changed. As it was always going to do eventually.

        On Algeria, Mark Almond, a proper conservative from all the way back in the Yugoslav Wars –

        On Mali, the indispensable Patrick Cockburn –

        • the viceroy’s gin

          The Chicoms are seeking to colonize Africa for a lot more than food.

          If you wonder what the West can do about that colonization, you might want to check with the 30-40,000 Chinese nationals who exited Libya shortly before the Colonel exited the premises. I’d guess that few have returned.

          And no, it isn’t likely I’ll be checking any links you find appealing. You don’t seem to understand what’s going on, and no reason to suspect your buddies would.

          • Tom Tom

            There is something bizarre about the deskbound British with no idea about the value of raw materials – definitely a post-industrial nation of Welfareist Consumerism

        • Tom Tom

          Chinese seem to like COPPER and other Minerals which Africa seems to have. China consumes 40$ global copper which means Zambia and Chile – they are in both countries

  • dalai guevara

    Very well, we hear what you are saying Fraser.

    Barack Obama is the Mary Seacole of the US.
    David Cameron would like to pose as the Benjamin Netanyahu of Europe.

  • Curnonsky

    Cameron has identified the problem, but since Britain is in no position to do anything about it, so what?

    And Obama refuses to concede the problem exists, even though the United States can do something about it, again so what?

    Prepare for a decade of unending bloodshed.

    • Dimoto

      What, even if the jihadists launch another outrage in his beloved Kenya ?

      • Tom Tom

        There are US troops all over Africa – are British troops and Special Forces present in 35 African countries ? The Chinese are everywhere there

  • Jebediah

    Well I guess Obama has forgotten that terrorists have an affinity with aircraft.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    2 weak politicians, both bleating distractions suited to their situation. But the need for the distractions arises from similar fiscal and governmental incompetence at home. One seeks distraction abroad, to relieve issues at home. The other knows that won’t sell(no matter that he’s elbows deep in the abroad), so turns to a fantasy domestic agenda that his own political party scorns.

    Make a mark here, today. It’s the high water mark for both. Next comes misery.

  • London Calling

    Cameron is right, his words speak truthfully of a terrorist threat from many angles, whereas Obama speech is the feel good factor pumping up his audience with false hope right now. Sadly the war hasn’t ended and whilst the troops are still in Afghanistan there will continue to be a reason to wage terrorist threats. Cameron knows this and I would rather hear the truth than a lie for whatever reason because its the real world politics the public need to hear…

  • Noa

    For Obama a bankrupt Europe can take care of itself, or to put it less delicately, go hang.

    China is the growing military power and the US its major debtor. His challenges are to get China to fund the exponentially increasing Debt and to deliver black and Hispanic Obamacare from the white middle class.

    • David Lindsay

      The part of bankrupt Europe certainly can, and he is not the only American who thinks so. Republicans as well as Democrats passed the legislation in order to avoid the fiscal cliff because the alternative would have been “turning into Britain”.

      On this anniversary of the death of George Orwell, his country is the globally acknowledged capitalist dystopia, conformity to which is actively feared even on the
      American Hard Right.

      • Noa

        Obama has already made it plain that, for him the UK is potentially, a useful additional lever as part of the EU, and nothing more.

        • David Lindsay

          For him and for every other American President since the 1940s.

          For most of them before that, Britain was the archenemy, a view which has always been America’s real one of Britain.

      • Tom Tom

        What “fiscal cliff” ? Nothing has changed….the US still spends 11% Federal tax revenues on Interest, Japan 25% ……..

  • alabenn

    There is a big difference between the two because with Obamas seeming hatred of old colonial nations there is little dialog between them.

    • David Lindsay

      A president of the United States who hates “old colonial nations” in general and Britain in particular? Never been one of them before, obviously.

      • alabenn

        I wrote about the current President not any of the past, nothing they have done makes any difference whatsoever to the thinking of the current President who had a direct link through his Kenyan father to colonial power.
        That colours his thinking.

        Like most of your comment you cannot help but make convoluted argument that in most cases is wrong and/or meaningless

    • Tom Tom

      Roosevelt in contrast absolutely loved Colonial and Imperial Nations….so much he wanted to destroy them