The United States of America has intervened in the political affairs of a foreign power. These are powerful words, full of intent and purpose. So often in the world the U.S has flexed its political and military muscles to bring about change in a foreign power over the 20th and 21st centuries.
The thing that separates this intervention from the countless others is that this intervention is not in the affairs of a lesser power in a far off land, where the political system is skewed or slanted towards a specific type of politics, this intervention is in a country of similar political and international stature to the U.S. I’m talking about the United Kingdom and Barack Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate.
So why intervene?
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America and the first black man to hold the office is running out of time. In the waning months of his second term as president, he knows that his time is almost up. The vultures are circling; ready to pick apart the carcass of his presidency once he becomes a private citizen again. He has faced a heavily Republican senate, eager to block any and all legislation, a partisan populous not ready to face the harsher realities of the post crash world and an international community filled with crises and division.
Like a prize-fighter who knows his fighting days are over, Barack Obama has nothing to lose and can throw everything he’s got at his presidency. His conservative, compassionate stance has gone and has been replaced by a rushed desire to achieve lasting impact in his few remaining months as president. He has vehemently spoken out on gun crime, on international terrorism, the economy and has pushed through significant diplomatic changes to the United States relationship with Cuba, paving the way for the greatest change in political relations between the two countries for half a century.
Intervention in European Affairs
Turning his attention away from domestic affairs to Europe and the UK could be seen by many as a dramatic overstepping of his presidential authority. Indeed the rebukes since his initial speeches from the Brexiteers have been as stinging as they have been numerous. By all means intervene in a foreign power, but save that intervention for a third world country or a dictatorship but don’t intervene in the affairs of an international partner, particularly one who you enjoy a “special relationship” with.
It’s easy to rebuke him, call him a hypocrite and ignore him, but as objective individuals we must look beyond the words to the real aims of his intervention in this integrally British issue.
We’ve already mentioned one point that is a key motivator for him: preserving the “special relationship”. The US has a vested interest in keeping Britain strong and an international power because we can achieve what they cannot: we can tread the fine lines of Europe, work in American interests and still be seen as an independent nation.
Our country provides a vital exporting and importing market to the US with many companies depending on British wealth and spending power to finance them. Should the UK leave the EU, the United States will have to renegotiate its existing trade agreements with a newly independent UK. Renegotiation takes time and could cause damage to world financial markets, particularly across the European Union.
British influence on the EU cannot be understated, we are one of three key leading nations in the greater European alliance, the others being France and Germany. Our voice carries a significant weight and provides additional strength to the EU message. As a significant political partner, America cannot help but see this and obviously make the logical leap that Britain outside of the EU is a weaker EU.
Playing the long game
You get the sense that America is playing a long game, keeping the EU strong enough while it readies itself for the inevitable confrontation with the newly resurgent Russian Federation. A strong EU preserving its borders can accomplish more politically than NATO could in military terms, drawing other territories into the union and strengthening its existing members. Other nations in the EU have dithered in the past on larger world concerns like Iraq and Afghanistan but the UK has not, we have been prepared to move forward where others have been reticent to do so.
That voice in the EU could be used to motivate it to pursue the eventual military action which will undoubtedly occur as the two great superpowers continue to butt heads.
On the other hand, President Obama could be a pawn in a European game designed to keep Britain in the EU in exchange for certain US concessions across the territories. The statements and speeches have been public but the real politics may be completely secret.
Is he right to do so?
Putting speculation aside, the ethics of President Obama’s intervention in this debate are questionable at best. We are not a dictatorship or a totalitarian society, British democracy has been key too much of the worlds greater democracy and indeed the US owes its constitution and political system to our political system. Intervening in this debate is ill advised and would only be considered by the US if the issue itself were so serious and so game changing that not intervening would be perceptibly catastrophic to American long term interests.
Whether his intervention proves to be a catalyst for a remain landslide or it provokes the opposite response, he has thrown his hat into the centre of the ring and it is up to us now as voters to decide whether this is right or wrong.
What do you think?
© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.