Smart Power: Obama’s Uighur deal undermines Bermuda government
posted at 5:05 pm on June 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Perhaps the Bermuda parliament is “fear-gripped”, too — or maybe just angry that their Premier cut a deal to admit al-Qaeda trained Uighur separatists into their country without consulting them or the British. Bermuda’s House of Assembly scheduled a no-confidence vote against Ewart Brown, which would result in immediate elections and throw the Bermuda government in disarray:
The United Bermuda Party today moved for a motion of no confidence against the Government led by Premier Ewart Brown.
Opposition leader Kim Swan proposed the motion in the House of Assembly this morning.
He said it was necessary as the Island is “increasingly subject to the politics of one man rule”.
Said Mr. Swan: “Why have we moved a motion of no confidence? The public affairs of Bermuda are increasingly subject to the politics of one man rule under the Premier, Dr. Ewart Brown. We consider this unhealthy and not in Bermuda’s best interest.
Brown never bothered to consult with the British Foreign Office or the Governor, which created an angry exchange today. The Obama administration attempted to shove blame onto Brown, claiming the White House assumed Brown was handling the Brits:
British Press were interpreting the statement as a signal that the FCO was “incensed” by the move. The Times Online described the FCO response as “ill-disguised fury”.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, the State Department said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the matter with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a State Department official said Washington negotiated the release of the four Uighurs directly with Bermuda Government on the understanding it was consulting the Governor.
The State Department is outsourcing its diplomacy to Bermuda? Sorry, that explanation doesn’t fly. The State Department knows full well that the UK controls the foreign policy of Bermuda and has responsibility for its security. The Obama administration should have checked to make sure our closest ally knew about the negotiations in order to avoid precisely what happened this week.
Premier Brown called the transfer an “immigration issue,” a claim that will likely inflame opinion even more on Bermuda and the UK. The political fallout may wind up undermining the British government as well:
William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, demanded an explanation from Foreign Secretary David Miliband and said the (British) government appeared to have “lost grip of running the country” amid internal Labour party rows over Gordon Brown’s future.
“It is astonishing that an agreement of such significance … could have taken place without a ripple reaching Whitehall,” Hague said. “The UK is responsible for Bermuda’s external relations, defence and security and for appointing its governor. Yet the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] appears to have had no idea that these discussions were taking place.
“Even before this there were serious questions about whether the government has paid sufficient attention to UK overseas territories. These questions have reached a new level.”
I seem to recall Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both claiming that they could restore supposedly strained relationships with our allies. They’re doing a bang-up job of it thus far.
Note: Thanks to HA reader Geoff A, as well as listeners of my show, for the links.