Smart Diplomacy

| February 4, 2011

According to recently leaked cables, the Obama administration agreed to give the Russians the secret serial numbers of each Trident missile in the British nuclear deterrent. It did this against the UK’s plainly published policy, and against its privately stated wishes. No doubt Mr. Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believe this is to be a sound application of “Smart Power,” which “…involves the strategic use of diplomacy, persuasion, capacity building, and the projection of power and influence in ways that are cost-effective and have political and social legitimacy.” Or perhaps smart power is just a re-imagining of realpolitik from the Metternich era. In any case, surely Great Britain would seem hypocritical were it to complain of another country acting in it’s own self interest, in light of Lord Palmerston’s words from 1848:

Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

So yes, I suppose it’s true that Britain is a second rate power today, behind the US and China. And yes it’s true that we manufactured their Trident missiles, which is how we know the serial numbers in the first place. And as Mr. Obama’s defenders will probably argue, it may also even be true that giving the Russians those serial numbers is a piddling little thing, and doesn’t compromise Britain’s defense in any meaningful way. But it’s also true that Britain has a lot of pride, and a history. And for most of the last century, that history has been influenced by a special relationship with us, the United States of America. Fighting on our side, it lost 885,000 soldiers during World War I 383,000 soldiers and sailors more during World War II.

It’s worth remembering that many of these British deaths during World War II came while fighting almost entirely alone against Nazi totalitarianism and an odious Imperial Japanese death cult. My Grand Uncle Eric, a merchant marine radioman from Cornwall, was one of the survivors of that terrible war, having had three cargo ships sunk underneath him. Many men of his generation weren’t so lucky at Dunkirk or Singapore. Nor were 1,415 of the 1,418 man crew of the Battlecruiser HMS Hood . During 1941 they went down with their ship, just three short minutes after a shell from the Bismarck slammed into her powder magazines. Ted Briggs, one of just three hypothermic survivors pulled alive after three hours in the cold water, testified to “…the sacrifice made by the squadron’s navigating officer Commander John Warrand, who stood aside and allowed him to exit the compass platform first,” and of “…the squadron commanding officer, Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland… last seen still sitting in his admiral’s chair and making no attempt to escape the sinking wreck.”

after Pearl Harbor, the British fought with us in North Africa, at Anzio, and at Monte Cassino. They suffered 2,700 casualties alongside 6,600 of ours at beaches code named Juno, Gold, and Sword, and 17,000 more fighting against the Japanese around Imphal. That fighting, incidentally, is probably best described by George MacDonald Fraser’sQuartered Safe Out Here.”

Britain was with us during the First Gulf War, and in Korea, though during the 50’s they began to realize that with only a third of our population and a bombed out industrial base, they would have to play a secondary role, a point made abundantly clear by President Eisenhower when he left their paratroopers hanging during the Suez crisis of 1957. And who can say whether Britain’s decision, in the wake of this perceived disloyalty, influenced their decision to let us handle Vietnam on our own? The point was certainly well taken by Ronald Reagan, who made nice with basing rights during the Falklands war.

The special relationship was back on track for the First Gulf war, surviving the tragedy of an American A-10 destroying a British personnel carrier, and tragically ending the lives of 9 young squaddies and since 2003, in spite of vicious and prolonged protests at home, they’ve helped us in Iraq. But perhaps most importantly, from Mr. Obama’s perspective, it’s worth pointing out that ever since 2001, they have steadily asked large numbers of their best young men and women, including the third in line to their throne, to serve alongside ours in what Mr. Obama has always claimed is the good, and the just war — the war we are currently fighting in the cold, ignorant mountains of Afghanistan. The war that is not going as well as any of us would like.

The war where we need all the help we can get, because we can still lose it.

So this has all been a long way of saying that the British have been our friends in the past, and they are our friends for right now, but there is nothing set in stone saying they will remain our friends into the future. Because a friend’s political support should not be taken for granted, the sacrifice of a friend’s soldiers should not be taken lightly, and at a minimum, a friend’s closely guarded nuclear secrets should not be shared like a giggling schoolgirl. Not without your friend’s permission. Not even if you think your friend doesn’t know what’s in his own best interest. Because there’s a difference between a friend and a lackey. And when you confuse a friend of many wars for a lackey, shooting spitwads at him behind his back just to score points with a bare-chested bully like Putin, it doesn’t make you look cool. It doesn’t make you look smart or powerful.

What it does is this: It make you look stupid and weak.

More here from Powerline and here from Instapundit.

Category: Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. OldSoldier54 says:

    Holy crap. Obama doesn’t miss any chance to put a finger in the Brits eye.

    Come on November, 2012.

  2. NHSparky says:

    It’s worse than that. By giving the Russians, who still regard us as adversaries, the nuclear information about D-5 missiles and their warheads, they also give the Russians and anyone else with more than a mild curiosity a birds-eye view of the capabilities not only of the missiles, but of the entire submarine itself.

    The last time someone gave this kind of information away, he’s still UNDER the prison (think Walker/Whitworth.)

    As a former submariner, this is no different than sailing the USS Ohio into Murmansk, popping the hatch, handing over the keys, and letting everyone and anyone with an axe to grind on board, and broadcasting the whole fucking thing on CNN.

    I was willing to give Obama a bit of credit for not being the worst president. He just ripped that trophy right out of anyone’s hands who might have had it. Any debate as to his complete and utter ineptitude and/or treason just got resolved.

  3. Old Trooper says:

    Old Soldier; he didn’t put a finger in their eye, he put a dagger in their back, the sonovabich.

  4. Cedo Alteram says:

    This is the problem with the liberal/progressives today, they want to be treated as tough and responsible in foreign affairs/defense. They actually care more about the trappings and awe of power, then the wise exercise of it. Whatever is expediant, a deals a deal, right? Damn the consequances, sometimes you just got to walk away. Just because you did it first or the quickest, doesn’t mean you did it well.

    Thats why there is a quest to turn coin into a “progressive” way of war, or have a “progressive” grand strategy. So said course of action would only be theirs(or they’d be credited no matter the administration that used it). Most of the major conventional conflicts of the 20th century were fought by Democratic Presidents, does that make them Liberal?

    There is no conservative version of this, and hopefully there never will be. Whether your dealing with a strong national defense conservative(like moi) or CATO/Paulite, we tend to come at defense from a candid belief of whats in the best interest of the country. NOT TO BEAT THE LIBERALS!

    As general Gray said “Don’t look good, be good”.

  5. Gale Childers says:

    What I would love to see is the Leader of one of our American Allies speak out & say “We as the nation of …. Do not recognize this impostor who is posing as the President of the United States, therefore nothing he says concerns our country!” If ALL of our American Allies would say this maybe we, the American people, would have grounds to impeach this idiot before he & his criminal regime completely destroy our Nation!

  6. AW1 Tim says:

    Fuck Obama and all his supporters. They are clueless, and he is criminally negligent is his actions as president. He needs to face impeachment as soon as is possible, and tossed afterward into the dustbin of history.

    These are criminal actions, and he and those who support him need to be held to account.

  7. Miss Ladybug says:

    Unfortunately, the current Senate would never convict him if the House passed Articles of Impeachment against him…

  8. Uber Pig says:

    I don’t see anything illegal that Mr. Obama has done here. Just shallow, stupid and weak. And embarrassing.

    — Uber Pig

  9. Old Trooper says:

    UP, you forgot that there will now be a newer level of distrust from our allies, as long as the jackwagon in chief is in the WH and his administration’s narcissism and incompetence is still on display.

  10. Joe says:

    Of what practical value are a few serial numbers? How exactly are we less safe? Would revealing those numbers stop the missiles from hitting their targets if, heaven forbid, they were launched? Would revealing those numbers allow the Russians to intercept the missiles? In nuclear disarmament talks, isn’t the ability to monitor the other sides’ store of weapons of paramount importance, as in “trust but verify”, the phrase coined by Saint Ronald himself?

  11. Old Trooper says:

    Joe; you have officially lost your fucking mind. The British weren’t part of these negotiations. They didn’t want anyone, other than the US, to know exactly what they have. Typical of the absolute dumbassery of the left. Not to mention that it probably violates our NATO agreements. Who will trust us anymore? The START treaty is a fucking joke, since Russia got everything they demanded and we stabbed our most loyal ally in the back to get the agreement. How the fuck is that good for us or the UK?

    As I have said to others; this administration is chock full of neophytes that are so fucking narcissistic that they will violate any trust in order to make themselves look good.

    If you knew anything about Ronald Reagan, you would know that he didn’t get on his knees and give bjs to the Soviets like this jackwagon does every time Putin walks in the room. Reagan would also not stab a loyal ally in the back, which seems to be SOP for leftist/marxist shitbags.

    Go ahead and try to justify this bullshit, because every time you do it makes you look like a dumbass commie.

  12. UpNorth says:

    I was going to respond to our resident dumbass, Joe, but OT did such a magnificent job, there’s not much left to be said to the guy who makes a wooden post look intelligent.
    The money quote is, “this administration is chock full of neophytes that are so fucking narcissistic that they will violate any trust in order to make themselves look good”. Starting with the Neophyte in Chief.
    Indeed, between this and meddling in the affairs of a nation(Egypt), who will trust us? If I were Israel, South Korea, Republic of China or Jordan or any of a score of our “allies”, I’d certainly be looking to myself for defense, not the U.S., led by clueless wonders.

  13. defendUSA says:

    Obama, the Pied Piper in chief, has once again proven what an empty suit he is. He has been from the get go. And when I hear someone say something as dumb as “it’s probably been done before” which is essentially giving a pass, well then, fuck me dead, would you please?

    Joe…poor Obamatard,(oops! did I say *that* out loud)that he is and the media that continually shove their heads further up the back end of the obamafice thinking everything is ice cream and gum drop are just a sorry bunch…

    Here you go, Joe. Some comparison of the Pied Piper to Reagan.
    From A commenter at Breitbart.

    Reagan: Fostered national pride in the military.
    Obama: Fostered gay pride in the military.

    Reagan: We begin bombing in five minutes.
    Obama: We begin golfing in five minutes.

    Reagan: Made big government a bad word.
    Obama: Made big government a bad dream.

    Reagan: A shining city on a hill.
    Obama: A home mortgage under water.

    Reagan: Stood up to the Soviets.
    Obama: Bowed to the Saudis (and now the Soviets).

    Reagan: “Tear down this wall.”
    Obama: Tearing down this country.

    Reagan: “Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.”
    Obama: Concentrated power has always been the objective.

    Reagan: Put labor unions in their place.
    Obama: Put labor unions in charge.

    Reagan: National health care is socialism.
    Obama: National health care is socialism.

    Now STFU, would you, Joe, please. Your ignorance is enough to make me puke.

  14. DaveO says:


    You wrote: “Of what practical value are a few serial numbers?”

    The numbers give the Russians the number of US-made missiles in the UK’s arsenal. Go back to the new START (the one no one can read yet), and you may find the odd term ‘US-made,’ or ‘US-produced.’ This gives the Russians, and whomever they’re willing to sell the information to, leverage should they decide to go to nuclear brinksmanship. It’s akin to knowing what cards your opponent has, and from there you can card-count every hand your opponent will be dealt, and how it is played. That is the essence of Smart Power.

    You wrote: “How exactly are we less safe? Would revealing those numbers stop the missiles from hitting their targets if, heaven forbid, they were launched? Would revealing those numbers allow the Russians to intercept the missiles?”

    Yes, the numbers do allow for very reasonable guesstimation, another term is Consequence Management (see also Risk Mitigation), and the Russians can now budget and build accordingly. On the American side of this equation, you will take note that the majority of weapons programs cut in DOD center around air and missile defense, followed by air superiority. President Obama’s strategy is to unilaterally disarm our defensive/protective punch, while giving away the secrets to our offensive punch.

    You wrote: “In nuclear disarmament talks, isn’t the ability to monitor the other sides’ store of weapons of paramount importance, as in “trust but verify”, the phrase coined by Saint Ronald himself?”

    Yes, Mr. Reagan did say that. Which is why the Soviets/Russians did not sign the IMF treaty until Bush Pere was in office. Deception here is key. If everyone knows how weak one is, they will roll that nation like a jelly pastry – like what is happening to us now. Exactly how many nukes did the Russians admit to? Not many, and nothing younger than you, age-wise. Stuff that has to be dismantled before they blow up on their own accord.

    President Obama laid out his nuclear strategy as a student in the late 1980s when he was the typical college communist. He’s had zero moral and practical education and experience to develop and temper his views since then.

    Secondary and tertiary effects are relatively simple to derive:

    1. Trust is gone. Our diplomatic corps is neither savvy enough, nor possessed of the testicular fortitude to succeed in an environment where every secret, every negotiation will be subject to intense bungling in the White House.

    2. Friends are allies you don’t have to buy. Next global snit, and we’ll be paying tens of billions to get once-friends to participate with us. It could be another campaign against AQ, or it could be the mission to save Darfur.

    3. Not just the US of A was protected under our nuclear umbrella. Those that once relied on us will look to China to counterbalance the Bolivarians. That represents markets closed or restricted to American business.

    All in all, this is one of the stupidest things the WH has ever contemplated. Because of the enormity of this betrayal, this can’t be a ‘whoopsy,’ but a calculated maneuver.

  15. Jeff F says:

    Chairman Zero just won the Greatest Blue Falcon Of All-Time award. Can you imagine what the Brits think of him now?

  16. NHSparky says:

    All this has done is give a damn good chunk of information about our submarine nuclear deterrent and delivered it to the Russians, et al, (Iranians, anyone?) gift-wrapped.

    Oh, but I’m still hearing the dying echoes of all you fucking libtards who claimed that when Obama became president, “The world would love us and respect us again!”

    Yeah, like the football team “respects” that kinda chubby cheerleader who put out for a fake sense of popularity.

  17. NHSparky: Yeah, like the football team “respects” that kinda chubby cheerleader who put out for a fake sense of popularity.

    Heh, First thing that came to mind when reading this was “football team” = “media” and “kinda chubby cheerleader” = “Meghan McBoobs McCain”.

  18. UpNorth says:

    Let’s see, if Ears is willing to give up the numbers and such of the Trident, who is to say he won’t give up the “signature” of every Brit Trident sub out there. I know that info is on file somewhere, so he’s in the position of giving that up too. Not to mention, giving up the “signature” of all of our boats too? Who really knows what’s in the START treaty, is it one of those things that had to be “passed so we know what’s in it”?

  19. Bohemond says:

    Well, Clement Atlee did give the Soviets the jet engine.

  20. Rapp5467 says:

    All of you republican whiners are a bunch of assholes. From one Democrat to all of you….suck it you pussies

  21. Sporkmaster says:

    That’s it? That is all you have?

  22. Stonewall116 says:

    Rapp5467 must have been typing that in while sitting in a truck stop toilet. Read it on a wall and thought is sounded good.

  23. Doc Bailey says:

    Wow. Rapp really put me in my place. Gee I’m sure all us Army types haven’t EVER been told to F**k off.

    As it is, with Egypt going to hell in a hand basket, Iran doing its best to antagonize the world, Turkey sliding into radicalism, and lets not forget Russia trying to play strong man again. . . you’d be hard pressed to tell HOW Obama is doing a good job at being the “leader of the free world”

    This is just more Transnational Progressive bullshit. I swear its like being on a plane that just lost hydraulic pressure, and with it all control of the aircraft. you’re kinda just waiting for the end to come.

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