You know what I love about the British? The accent.
You can tell someone that their house just burned down, their daughter’s knocked up, and there’s $100 missing from their wallet. But if you do it with a snappy British accent and in the Queen’s English* it seems incredibly palatable.**
I also love the fact that the UK has a penchant for not sugar coating things. Take, for instance, this report on the Pres1dent’s speech to the UN.
In fact human rights issues were strikingly downplayed in Obama’s address, which is not surprising since they are rarely on the radar screen of this administration. Nor did the words liberty or freedom feature prominently. This was a speech designed to appease opinion in a world body in which full democracies make up only a minority of its members.
Was this though Obama’s most naïve speech ever? It is a very strong candidate, but I think there is intense competition for that accolade. The president’s speeches in Cairo, Strasbourg and Prague would all vie for that title. Still, his address today will go down in history as one of the weakest major addresses by a US president on foreign policy in a generation, by a leader who seems embarrassed, even ashamed, by the power and greatness of his own country.
This was an exceedingly dull, poor speech that overwhelmingly failed to advance US interests on the world stage, or project American values and principles onto the rest of the globe. As Barack Obama will eventually discover, soft power will only get you so far when you have to confront and defeat brutal enemies that seek America’s destruction.
Nicely put, old chap!!
* The Queen’s English being a strikingly more formal version than American. It seems almost apologetic, even when they’re telling you to piss off.
** At the Staff College, we always made the Brit or Aussie open the practice new conferences. “Hey man, bad news always sounds better with an accent!”