Tag: Obama

Torture, Obama, Churchill

Torture, Obama, Churchill

Tor­ture Top­ics: In his press con­fer­ence of 29 April 2009, in response to a ques­tion on the dis­clo­sure of top secret mem­os on the use of “enhanced inter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods,” Mr. Oba­ma said:

I was struck by an arti­cle that I was read­ing the oth­er day talk­ing about the fact that the British dur­ing World War II, when Lon­don was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, ‘We don’t tor­ture,’ when the entire British—all of the British people—were being sub­ject­ed to unimag­in­able risk and threat….the rea­son was that Churchill under­stood — you start tak­ing short­cuts, over time, that cor­rodes what’s best in a peo­ple.…

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“This great country…mooing dolefully…”

“This great country…mooing dolefully…”

21 March 2009 (Asso­ci­at­ed Press):

Iran’s supreme leader, Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, today dis­missed over­tures to his coun­try from the U.S. pres­i­dent, Barack Oba­ma, say­ing Teheran did not see any change in pol­i­cy under the new U.S. admin­is­tra­tion. “They chant the slo­gan of change but no change is seen in prac­tice,” Khamenei said in his speech, broad­cast live on state tele­vi­sion. In his video mes­sage, Oba­ma said the US want­ed to engage Iran and improve decades of strained relations.

 This remind­ed me of Harold Nicolson’s let­ter to his wife, Vita Sackville-West, 1 March 1938 (Nicol­son Diaries, I, 328):

Win­ston spoke of “this great coun­try nos­ing from door to door like a cow that has lost its calf, moo­ing dole­ful­ly now in Berlin and now in Rome—when all the time the tiger and the alli­ga­tor wait for its undoing.”…

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More Obama and the Churchill Bust

More Obama and the Churchill Bust

Thanks for the amus­ing “Oba­ma, Cal­houn and the Churchill Bust-Out.” What do you say how­ev­er about the Dai­ly Telegraph’s spec­u­la­tion that Obama’s rejec­tion of Churchill was based on the British jail­ing and tor­ture of his grand­fa­ther, Hus­sein Onyan­go Oba­ma, between 1949 and 1951, “dur­ing the Mau Mau rebel­lion in Kenya”?  —R.P.

First, the Dai­ly Tele­graph did not con­nect Obama’s grandfather’s jail­ing with the Mau Mau rebel­lion. The Tele­graph report is very care­ful on this point:

It was dur­ing Churchill’s sec­ond pre­mier­ship that Britain sup­pressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebel­lion. Among Kenyans alleged­ly tor­tured by the colo­nial regime includ­ed one Hus­sein Onyan­go Oba­ma, the President’s grandfather.…

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Obama and the Churchill Bust -Out

Obama and the Churchill Bust -Out

 

Ever since the BBC and The Dai­ly Tele­graph revealed that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had sent George W. Bush’s Jacob Epstein Oval Office bust of Win­ston Churchill pack­ing (while retain­ing the bust of Abra­ham Lin­coln),  the media has been abuzz with spec­u­la­tions over the implied symbolism.

Per­son­al­ly I think the media just demon­strates its degen­er­ate irre­spon­si­bil­i­ty to keep fan­ning these non- issues. Fifty years ago a dif­fer­ent media would have pub­lished some thought­ful pieces on the future of the US-UK rela­tion­ship. Not any more.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….When Pres­i­dent Bush had a Churchill bust in the Oval Office, zealots would occa­sion­al­ly demand its return, since in their view Bush was unde­serv­ing, or was using it to pro­claim him­self anoth­er Churchill.…

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