President Obama today affirmed American neutrality in the dispute between Argentina and England over the Falkland Islands. In the process, he made clear that the “special relationship” between the UK and the United States is not very special.
Obama’s comments were made during a speech in Cartagena, Colombia, at the Summit of the Americas. It was delivered in English, but Obama chose to refer to the disputed islands by their Spanish name – the Malvinas. Argentina has insisted that the islands should always be referred to as “the Malvinas,” while the British have been adamant about calling them “the Falklands.” Obama’s choice of Malvinas might have been seen as a slap at the UK. Instead of feeling slapped, though, the British might be amused: He called them “the Maldives.”
The Maldives are a group of Islands off the coast of India, half a world away from the Falklands. The story for people who enjoy presidential gaffes is that Obama got the wrong islands in the wrong ocean, but because Obama is so clearly brilliant, we’ll just file this away as an anomaly, along with the extra states. The real story is that he wanted to call them “the Malvinas” in the first place. It puts the British on notice that if push comes to shove, they might expect us to be as neutral as France.
I agree with the quote. The big deal to me isn’t the Maldives vs. Malvinas gaffe (although it is unbelievable that our president would actually make that mistake), it is the fact that he isn’t calling them what they are. The Falklands. As an aside, who in gods name does Obama have making his speeches/helping him with public appearances? I get the fact that he hates Great Britain, but at least fact check the Maldives/Malvinas. Sheesh.