25 May 2011

Obama: Pomp and Ceremony and Little Else

Fascinating how Obama gets so much press coverage yet does so very little.

He was all over the Evening Standard and even today's concise I paper gives him a double page spread.

The agenda today, and I love the emphasis on the word, as though it is a demand for action, is to be centred around Libya. But no one will mention Wikileaks, Bahrain, Syria, Israel and Palestine, nor will they comment on Guantanamo or press the subject of nuclear missiles in Poland too heavily.

We are paying obsequious homage to a man who governs in poetry and wins Nobel peace prizes for poetry but whom lacks the distinct ability to make a decision, stick to a path of action or decisively implement anything.

He's great at the chat, the Guiness drinking and the speeches claiming abstract responsibility.

But he is found wanting. His staff on various BBC radio programmes clearly feel unconfortable with British Journalists' levels of probity; when one mentioned Libya they were quick to assert the US is funding the operation. This is very different from active participation. It's almost a strapline, International Sanctions, sponsored by US. Pun intended.

One wonders how Paxman would approach the great Obama, high on his post of virtue. I know I would start with Wikileaks, Guantanamo and leave Palestine for a savouring ending.

American press is pushing for the Hamas to drop their Palestinian State plea. And Obama stays resolutely quiet on this as he completes the pomp and ceremony of a visit to the Queen.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


  1. Are you able to quote an example of the American press pushing Hamas "to drop their Palestinian State plea"? Who is pushing Hamas to drop their call for a Palestinian state? What they are being pushed to do is to accompany their call for a Palestinian state with a willingness to recognise Israel alongside a Palestinian state.

    Nor is it true that Obama's visit to London will not spark any mention of Israel/Palestine. I'd be very surprised if it is not mentioned in his speech to Parliament and in any joint US/UK statement that might be issued today. http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/05/obama-brings-middle-east-to-london.html

  2. Hi Matthew, I blog on the train and can't do HTML. Sometimes I come back to them.

    Reuters, Washington Post and other main American press are reporting Netanyahu proclaiming Palestine should drop their state bid, but it is barely mentioned in British Press. I appreciate that wasn't clear.

    AFAIK Obama did not mention Palestine/Israel at all in his speeches, and neither did Cameron. It would have had an effect on their "essential relationship".

  3. Thanks. President Obama is not, repeat not, calling on Palestinians to drop their call for a state. He is calling on them to drop plans to make a unilateral declaration of independence for such a state at the UN in September. He is doing this because he believes that such a state will be created by negotiations, and not by unilateralism. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/obama-trying-to-head-off-trainwreck-at-un-in-september-1.364474

    No American President has been stronger than President Obama in supporting calls for the creation of a Palestinian state that would live in peace and security alongside the State of Israel. It is therefore a gross calumny to accuse President Obama of calling on the Palestinians to drop their call for a Palestinian state.

    It is also completely untrue - totally untrue - to say that Obama and Cameron did not mention Israel/Palestine in their speeches and press conference. How can anyone read the transcripts, and then claim that Israel/Palestine was not mentioned? The mind boggles.

    You can read what was said by President Obama and Mr Cameron at their joint press conference here: http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/05/usuk-policy-on-israelpalestine-today.html There is also a video of the press conference. Meanwhile, in his speech to the British Parliament, President Obama said:

    "We share a common interest in resolving conflicts that prolong human suffering and threaten to tear whole regions asunder. In Sudan, after years of war and thousands of deaths, we call on both North and South to pull back from the brink of violence and choose the path of peace. And in the Middle East, we stand united in our support for a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine."


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