LONDON - The British are understandably mystified. Long accustomed to a "special relationship" with the United States, they are trying to figure out why the latter's likeable new president would be going to such lengths to distance himself from the country that has for generations been America's closest ally.
First, there was Barack Obama's decision to return the Churchill bust that had graced the Oval Office since then-Prime Minister Tony Blair gave it to George W. Bush as a post-9/11 gesture of solidarity. Then, there were the successive affronts during the visit by Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, to Washington last week: A seemingly thoughtless official gift (a set of DVDs of popular American films); a painfully chilly and brief press availability before the start of the two men's private meeting; and no formal joint press conference of the kind Bush afforded Blair on all but one of numerous visits to Washington (the exception a hastily arranged trip right after the September 11 attacks).
The British press has offered several face-saving explanations for these serial rudenesses. Perhaps Obama is "exhausted." Alternatively, he is simply "focused elsewhere" in the midst of cratering capital markets, collapsing automakers and skyrocketing unemployment.
The real answer, however, was supplied by an unnamed State Department official whom London's Sunday Telegraph reported on March 8 "reacted with fury" when asked by the paper why the Brown visit was so, er, "low-key." According to the Telegraph: "The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship. ‘There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment.'"
Such a comment by a representative of the State Department - an institution that never saw a foreign government it wanted to offend - is a sign of how serious Team Obama is about "resetting" the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Of course, as that term applies to friendly Britain, it means something very different than when used to describe the administration's desire for improved ties with America's enemies, actual or potential, like Russia, Iran and "Palestine."
(Consider, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's tendering to her Russian counterpart a symbolic "Reset" button - one whose label, incredibly, used instead the Russians' word for "overload." This unserious conduct in the face of the Kremlin's increasing aggressiveness at America's expense constituted the most appalling and degrading public spectacle by the top U.S. diplomat since her husband's appointee, Madeleine Albright, danced with North Korean despot Kim Jong Il in 2000.)
Arguably, the need for a special relationship with Great Britain rooted in shared Western values and a mutual commitment to the common defense is as great today as at anytime since World War II. Unfortunately, Gordon Brown's government is conducting itself in ways that undermine those values and jeopardize the security of the Free World. Particularly worrying are British concessions to the repressive and seditious theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls "Shariah":
- Shariah-Compliant Finance (SCF): Even though promoters of this industry, like "Shariah advisor" and al-Jazeera host Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, have described SCF as "financial jihad" and al Qaeda has publicly embraced its practice, Mr. Brown has declared he wants Britain to be the world capital of Shariah finance.
- Shariah courts: Brown's government has begun institutionalizing the practice of separate legal systems for Muslims with the proliferation of "family law" courts where women can be treated, in accordance with Shariah, as second-class citizens - less-than-equal to male Muslims and entitled to a fraction of the property due the latter in the adjudication of divorce or testate matters.
- Terrorism charities: The British government has refused to take punitive action against British-based Islamic "charities" that provide money to terrorist organizations. The latest is Interpal, a Palestinian organization that even the BBC was able to figure out provides support to Hamas.
- Engaging with terrorists: British civil servants are paying thousands of dollars to attend a conference next month on "Political Islam" at which Ibrahim Moussawi has been invited to speak. Moussawi is a top propagandist for Hezbollah. The same Brown government that prevented Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders from presenting his film "Fitna" to the House of Lords on the grounds that he constituted too much of a threat to "community harmony" is evidently untroubled by having a flak for terrorists inciting in the U.K.
The irony of the evident distancing from Britain by the Obama administration is that Brown's government is pursuing policies that Barack Obama seemingly espouses. The U.S. taxpayer now owns most of AIG and Citigroup, two companies massively engaged in Shariah-compliant transactions, at odds with our constitutional separation of church and state.
In this and other ways, Mr. Obama is effectively acquiescing to Islamists' demands to establish here as in the U.K. their own, "parallel" society observing Shariah rules, not the laws of the land. Among the concessions in the works appears to be bans on so-called "hate speech" that defames Islam, an idea implicit in the President's injunction to use "respectful language" towards Muslims.
Last week, moreover, Hillary Clinton effectively promised a whopping $900 million charitable contribution from the U.S. taxpayer to Hamas - or at least a future Hamas-Fatah "unity" government. This is a part of the President's determination to reset Mideast diplomacy by forging what might be called "special relationships" not only with Syria and Iran but the major terrorist organizations they sponsor, Hamas and Hezbollah.
As the Free World increasingly engages in submission to Shariah, it appears the special U.S. tie to the U.K. that served to block the global ambitions of successive totalitarian ideologies will no longer operate. Under President Obama, the question increasingly is: Will the U.S. perform that vital role alone, or succumb as Britain is doing to what Islam scholar Robert Spencer calls the "Stealth Jihad" now being mounted against every freedom-loving country?
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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