"Will David Cameron Ever Kick Barack Obama's Ass?" reads the headline at the Telegraph, a UK news website. A couple of my British friends--who are very liberal and were staunch supporters from afar in Barack Obama's race for the presidency--are now cringing with every utterance of "boots on necks," "ass kicking" and other macho proclamations. If the Telegraph story (and comments from readers) is any indication, US anger at BP is being taken very personally in the UK. It's always interesting to look at any issue through another lens, so please follow me below the fold.
First of all, the US government, the media (and bloggers) are referring to BP as British Petroleum even though they legally changed their name to BP 10 years ago. To the Brits, use of the old name reflects a xenophobic attitude about the spill. Why are we emphasizing British? Do we think that US companies are any better? That this could never have happened to a US company? That US companies haven't raped the environment with corporate greed elsewhere in the world?
They react to the comments about BP as if leveled against their whole nation rather than a corporation, such as this observation:
Nile Gardiner noted that BP “has been demonised by the administration with language that it would dare not use even agains Iran and North Korea”.You could even say they seem downright paranoid about the anti-British angle, given this speculation:
and if BP loses US government contracts (BP is the biggest supplier of oil and gas to the US military), it could trigger a backlash in America against British companies, which would have long-term implications for our economy.I think most Americans would be astonished by the suggestion of a boycott of British companies--I know plenty of people who won't patronize a BP gas station now, but none of them generalizes it to the UK or any other British company.
We are all so limited by our own perspectives. In the US, we don't see our reaction as attacking an ally, but our ally's citizens are taking it that way.
The comments are facinating. Here's a sampling:
BP has fronted up. It is trying its damnest to kill the leak and when it does, it will pay to clear up the mess that this spill has left behind. Compensation is being paid to those whose livelihoods have already been affected, and billions more will be paid after this is over. Sadly, this has not been the behaviour of American companies operating across the globe, many using legal process to wriggle out of the responsibility for their errors, to avoid paying compensation to local people. This is why many of us seeing BP, its CEO and the thousands of its US employees coming under a barrage of daily abuse, are getting angry, because that criticism has a strong stench of contemptible hypocrisy about it.
Obama has shown that he is no close ally of the U.K. He seems to forget that it was an American company which caused this disaster.
Time for our troops to leave Afganistan after nine hard years.
Let the yanks fight their own bloody wars, or find some other "allies" willing to do it for them, if they can.
Transocean was the rig operator whose incompetence led to the explosion. Halliburton's cementing of the well was done badly and on the cheap contributing to the explosion and the leak. Where exactly does BP come into this at all? It has deep pockets and is not American. BP is merely the owner of the oil field and has far less culpability for the disaster than the two US companies named above.
America is only too happy to accept the tax dollars that the oil companies generate, and for the employment of over 20,000 of their citizens by BP, knowing full well the downside of oil production. I am given to believe that the oil rig causing this pollution was leased to BP by an American company, yet BP have accepted all the blame, like the gentlemen they are, and Obama is not. When the Alpha Piper disaster occurred I cannot remember British politicians making anti-American statements. I can only agree with Johan De Muelemeester (for once), tell Obama to seek another ally when seeking sanctions against Iran. Perhaps we might even seek a special relationship with Iran, since our erstwhile allies are seeking to sh*t upon us.In the UK, they see only BP's "gentlemanly" admission of responsibility and actions to stop the leak and clean it up. They either aren't exposed to or haven't noticed BP's low-balling the size of the spill, the existence of underwater plumes, the difficulties some are experiencing getting money for cleanup activities etc. At the same time, the criticisms of US hypocrisy are pretty apt when it comes to the past bad acts of American companies.
So Kosssacks, are you at all surprised at the British reaction to US "ass kicking" rhetoric? While pundits want President Obama to show more anger, would you advise him to be more gentlemanly in going after BP? What do you think?