Thursday, 21 May 2009

A New US Ambassador to Britain?

Today a number of British papers are reporting the expected announcement of Louis Susman as US Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

Susman is a long-time Democratic party fundraiser and early supporter of Obama's

The British media - a strange beast at the best of times - has responded extremely oddly to this (not yet confirmed) posting. For instance, here's the Telegraph writing back in March when the idea was first being mentioned:

The appointment of a crony of the President rather than a diplomatic high-flyer will be a disappointment for Gordon Brown who has already had to come to terms with the fact Britain now only has a "special partnership" with America rather than a "special relationship".
Really? The appointment of a successful businessman and good friend to the President is a sign that poor old Britain gets demoted to a mere "partner" rather than having a "relationship"? And in some way that's to be considered a demotion? (Partnership < Relationship?)

The Guardian, after much Kvetching and hand wringing that Susman does not come from the diplomatic corps, finally reports in its bizarre article that:
The president's choice of Susman could be viewed as a snub to the UK.
I suppose it COULD - but you'd have to be trying really, really hard.

Wherefore this profound insecurity in Britain that wants to believe with every reading of the entrails that there is a secret snub to be found. It reminds me of something John F. Kennedy once said when the government of West Germany kept asking for assurances of US support:
"It was, the President once said, like a wife who asks her husband every night, 'Do you love me?' and when he keeps repeating that he does, nevertheless asks again, 'But do you really love me?' - and then puts detectives on his tail."
Gordon Brown was the first foreign leader that President Obama met with in Washington. He was the first foreign leader that President Obama visited overseas. Britain, you really are our closest ally. Honest. We REALLY DO love you.

Louis Susman is, I have no doubt, a supremely competent leader (and I've heard good things about him from those who worked with him during the campaign) and I'm sure he'll be a fine Ambassador in line with the tradition of fine politically appointed ambassadors here. But it doesn't seem to me that there is a desperate need for an ambassador with strong State Department experience here PRECISELY BECAUSE our relationship is so close.

A lot of the work that would normally be conducted by the Ambassador will be done through direct Presidential level discussions. Plus, although I have no doubt that there will be areas of disagreement, I don't think the Obama administration is worried about managing contentious trade agreements, or military engagements here in Britain. We're allies - there's a level of mutual trust and respect.

And finally, Britain, please remember in the midst of all the lunatic hand wringing over whether our relationship is REALLY special, whether it's special ENOUGH, whether it will ALWAYS be special... We're not with you because you nag or trick us into it.

It's very much in America's best interest to be closely allied with Britain. Even if the President and the Prime Minister didn't like each other personally (although there's every evidence that they DO), even if the Mayor of London arrests the US Ambassador for non-payment of fines (which he might), even if we never succeed in giving you a properly functioning DVDs - the US will always love you. Promise.

Those other countries meant nothing to us.

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