The events of the last week prompt me to write a sequel to last week’s column about the general withdrawal of the United States from world affairs.
First, I retract my apology for having written that the Bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the Oval Office was returned by President Obama to the British. It was returned, and is now in the British embassy in Washington. Readers had, with perfect good faith, sent me a denial of that event from a White House official, which itself has now been retracted and made the subject of an apology from the official who wrote it.
The bust of Churchill in the White House residence is not the one that was in the Oval Office; it was a gift from the British government to President Lyndon Johnson and has remained in the residence through the terms of nine presidents, including the incumbent. Mr. Johnson was the president of the United States when Sir Winston died in 1965 and had intended to lead the American delegation to his funeral, which would have been the only time an incumbent American president attended the funeral of a former British prime minister, but he came down with influenza and the U.S. delegation was headed by President Eisenhower and Chief Justice Warren.
The brusque return of the Churchill bust, like the official American representation at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral earlier this year, by an already forgotten former ambassador to the country, illustrate the dilapidation of the alliance system under this administration and also illustrates the point I was making in last week’s column — though I now regret ever having raised the matter of that confounded effigy of Sir Winston.
Of course, President Obama doesn’t have to have a bust of Churchill in his office, but there are more diplomatic things to do with it than dump it at the British embassy, just as he might have bestirred himself earlier to nominate a serious ambassador to the Court of St. James, a position that has been held by five presidents, five unsuccessful candidates for president, two vice presidents and four secretaries of State of the U.S., and many other distinguished people, including the eminent writers George Bancroft and James Russell Lowell.
I promise not to raise this matter ever again in this column.
The intervening events that indicate that the U.S. administration is deliberately diminishing American influence in all the theatres of the world are the imbroglio over Edward Snowden in Russia, and the ludicrous fiasco of the visit of Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham to Egypt on the conceit that they have some standing to announce and enact American foreign policy.
On the Russian front, Joe Biden’s infamously facile and simplistic reference to pushing the “reset button” in Russo-American relations looks more absurd than ever. The Obama administration has practiced over four years of appeasement of the Russians, including shortchanging the Poles and Czechs on missile defense and effectively admitting the …read more