So, the most isolationist, non-interventionist American President since Jimmy Carter is coming to London to interfere in the matters of a sovereign state, or rather, a semi sovereign state given that it is beyond doubt a member of the EU agrees to pool some of its sovereignty. The only debate is the amount. Whatever that is – President Obama wants it to be maintained and will say so.

‘And what’s it got to do with him?’  You may well ask, indeed it is a question that will be asked by various British politicians, media outlets and members of the public this week. Already 100 members of Her Majesty’s Parliament have signed a letter effectively telling the ‘Leader of the Free World’ to mind his own business.

The problem with the letter, and its sentiments, is that this is, up to a point, the business of an American President, and that obligates him to take a position.

This will of course be deeply political, and yes, an interference in British politics. The Brits may have lost the War of Independence, but that was about American independence, not British and this is going to cause a lot of angst.

It will be a blow, of what importance we don’t know, to the Brexiteers, which is precisely why they are so alarmed at the prospect of an American President taking a position on a British referendum. One of their key arguments is that the UK can prosper outside of the EU by forging better trade and diplomatic relationships with the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth. If the most powerful nation in the Anglosphere disagrees that is, at the least, awkward.

Of course many anti-authority Brits may react to Obama’s intervention with a two fingered sign going all the way back to Agincourt, but I suspect more will give pause for thought. Obama may have had a weak, unimpressive foreign policy, but he remains the leader of the world’s most images-2powerful country and what he says still has huge influence.

The American foreign policy establishment from the White House, to the State Department, to the Department of Defense and beyond, believes, quite reasonably, that a Brexit will put the EU on the trajectory of breaking apart.

Why should they care? Because a weakened, or disintegrated EU will be unable to challenge Russia with an integrated foreign policy regarding trade, energy supplies, sanctions, and banking regulations. A UK outside of a weakened EU would not be in a position to be a friendly eyes and ears inside the remaining EU, nor influence the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Americans will also be closely watching the effects of the referendum on the global markets.

You may hold the view that a weakened EU is a good thing, but that does not mean that its prospect is not something an American President can comment on.

So, lunch with Queen on Friday to wish her a happy 90th birthday, a joint press conference with David Cameron, and a ‘town hall’ meeting with young people the following day. At some point during this President Obama will ‘vote’ in the British referendum

Some media outlets and politicians may huff and puff about it, some may exaggerate his words into more than they will be – a straightforward, if slightly disguised view that he’s ‘voting Remain’, but none of that will mean that this has nothing to do with him, or his country.

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7 Comments on "The Interventionist Obama"

  1. Tim, There are are also US economic concerns on a possible stock market shock. Almost every nation on the planet is in worse economic shape and holding larger debts than they were in 2008. The world economy today stands on a precipice and it will take only a minor push to take it over but this time the various central banks will be unable to throw it rope to cling on to and it will plummet to the bottom. Could brexit provide this push?, possibly yes. My view is it it will happen anyway at some juncture but people do like to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible in the hope a solution will appear. You rightly allude to Britain being Americas cuckoo in the EU nest and for that reason I think several of our EU partners, most notably our friends across the channel would be secretly pleased if we left. I don’t think remain need Obama I think the treasury’s laughable conflation of “potential” losses of GDP per household with loss of actual income will do the trick nicely for them.

  2. mahatmacoatmabag | 20th April 2016 at 1:03 pm | Reply

    Obama is desperate that the UK should remain the failed economically & military weak proto-socialist vassal state of the socialist experiment gone wrong known as the EU or more correctly the EUSSR. Obama’s world vision is the demise of free enterprise, the supremacy of rigid state control over the population & destruction of the values that made America a great nation. In 7 years he has accomplished his plan to reduce America to a pitiful state that parallels the 13 years of socialist tyranny that Blair & Brown inflicted on the UK. The UK is not like his new buddies Cuba & Iran but Obama sees the UK remaining entrapped in the EU as the best chance for the demise of Western democracy as the leading ideology on the planet that will be able to withstand the march of militant Islam & hard line dictatorships like Russia, China, North Korea & Cuba. Obama has been the hurricane that has left a trail of devastation in the USA & the free world, that will be his lasting legacy – devastation not great deeds.

  3. mahatmacoatmabag | 24th April 2016 at 9:45 am | Reply

    Foreign interference in a nations internal political affairs & an economic threat would cause most nations to call in the offending nations ambassador for a ticking off if not the breaking off of diplomatic relations. No 3rd world country would tolerate such bullying from the USA , so why has our PM allowed Obama & now Clinton to disrespect us & threaten us? Whether we vote to remain trapped in the failed EU or leave and regain our sovereignty as a nation in charge of our own destiny is our business, up to the electorate & not the worst ever president of the USA in history or his patently dishonest former secretary of state.

    • Cameron asked for the intervention and probably gave a tick list of what he wanted covered in the speeches so more a case of encouraging than allowing. You will find plenty of countries tolerate bullying from the USA, when Japan the 3rd biggest economy in the world asked them to remove their military base from Okinawa they were politely told to get knotted. Germany the 4th biggest economy in the world couldn’t get the Americans to hand their gold reserves back and eventually gave up. As for Britain, dependent on US credit agencies for an undeserved AAA credit rating, on the US military for the maintenance and spare parts for our supposedly ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent and with the US treasury being by far the biggest holder of our debt we are hardly likely to call their ambassador in for anything in other than a nice cup of tea. The reality is that the UK stopped being a truly independent nation when we caved in to US threats over Suez we acknowledged after that point that foreign policy had to be cleared with Washington first.

      • mahatmacoatmabag | 24th April 2016 at 3:34 pm | Reply

        Rob you are correct re: the timeline of Suez being when we started clearing everything with Washington, during WW2 we worked with them & made joint decisions but since Suez when the pro-Arab Dulles brothers controlled US foreign policy we have had to kow tow to the USA, the Arab oil lobby & the EU . Most servants have only one master, the UK has three .

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