Special Relationship: Obama and Cameron renew vowsPosted by Anthony Page
David Cameron and US president Barack Obama put on a show for the cameras before tackling the thorny issue of Afghanistan.
If any of you have been watching the news this afternoon you can’t have missed the US welcome party for Mr and Mrs Cameron, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary. Six thousand guests on the White House lawn, a nineteen gun salute and last night a ride in Air Force One to watch a college basketball game! The last time anything like this was staged was for the President of China.
This was serious acknowledgement of the link between the US and the UK. So why all this pomp? Well there are a number of reasons: one is the fact that President Obama is up for re-election in November and this is a good memory to have in the minds of the electorate as they go to vote – allies through thick and thin for over 100 years – a rock solid alliance!
Secondly, it’s an excellent time to acknowledge the ties that have bound our two countries during the reign of Elizabeth ll. Thirdly, and more than likely the real reason; is that the electorates in both countries are asking the question ‘What the hell are we doing in this silly war in Afghanistan and when are we going to get our troops out?’
The real work will start as these ceremonies end and the discussion will only have two agenda topics: the global economy and Afghanistan. We have been softened up for this trip for the past two weeks in UK media and you can bet your bottom dollar the same has been happening in the US. So where will all this lead us in the days and weeks to come. I would lay hard cash there will be an announcement that we will both be withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan much, much earlier than the 2014 date announced last year.
Both leaders need this – Obama for re-election and Cameron to consolidate his power base in the UK leading up to a reviving economy and a General Election. More than anything Cameron wants to be free of the coalition with Nick Clegg.
Time will tell but you can be sure there is more to this than dinners, platitudes and hot dogs. I hope I’m right, although I do feel sorry for Nick Clegg.
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