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.


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Comments

It must be frustrating for PM Brown to have the US State Dept go under the radar to seal this deal, then have the opposition say this shows he’s lost control. Makes you wonder if O & Hill are trying to undermine him. I’d give back the DVDs if I were him.

KS Rex on June 12, 2009 at 6:33 PM

A little more smart power like this and Paw-kee-stawn will be the only ally we have left.

Cicero43 on June 12, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Lizza on June 12, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Something you can follow next week, to confirm your claim that this won’t be an issue in England.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/

a capella on June 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Oh, it’s classic material. “NOBODY CARES!!!111!!”, well, except for the Bermudian House of Assembly, the British Foreign Office, and the Tory Shadow Ministers who are pushing hard on Labor as we speak.

Other that that, no one cares!!!!1111!!!!11

Techie on June 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM

I wonder if Obama also threw in a couple dozen dvds playable only in the USA to seal the deal? PM Brown is getting punch drunk with all the abuse he’s getting from Obama and Hillary, and he’s the socialist party leader, so they should be supporting him. Also, as per state department, ‘when you ASSUME, you make an ass of you and me’. Thank you Felix Unger.

eaglewingz08 on June 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Smart-Obama Point No. 01:

Obama’s so smart, he makes fire ants look like fire ants. Fire!

…feel free to add more…

Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:36 PM

look, we live in rural virginia. our TVs, lights & computers run on squirrel power. we have gun racks. we are rednecks.

we knew that the Won should consult gordon brown before he did something this stupid.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Who thinks that those Uighers arrived in Bermuda carrying brand new notebook computers?

Which the U.S. taxpayers paid for. Also the plane fair (and the plane, and their housing on Bermuda, and caretakers, and…).

Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:38 PM

o/t: i’m glad that Sarah Palin is pissed off. i’m hoping she is still mad this weekend, next week or early next month if the Norks shoot a nuke to Alaska. she can blast the damn thing right back where it came from.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:39 PM

This hole cluster fark should have never have happened. but Noooo we HAVE to close gitmo. All those poor terrorists getting full health coverage and 3 square meals a day on a tropical island. Oh the horror. I hope this sh1t blows up in B.H.O.’s face.

Greed on June 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

lourdes, the airplanes are the private jets that the GM & Chrysler CEOs used to own.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Oh, it’s classic material. “NOBODY CARES!!!111!!”, well, except for the Bermudian House of Assembly, the British Foreign Office, and the Tory Shadow Ministers who are pushing hard on Labor as we speak.

Other that that, no one cares!!!!1111!!!!11

Techie on June 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM

What “Lizza” means is that nobody who voted for Obama cares. And Obama, he doesn’t care. So, in their world, “nobody cares!!!!!!!” Oh, wait, forgot the closer: “nobody cares!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!

Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

lourdes, the airplanes are the private jets that the GM & Chrysler CEOs used to own.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

I would not be surprised…

Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:41 PM

several hunters in my county have offered to take the prisoners. for free. because it is their patriotic duty, of course.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:41 PM

This is great. Even Bush 43 knew enough to let the professional diplomats handle the nuances of diplomatic relations.
The “loss” column for the Incompetent in Chief gets longer and longer….

n0doz on June 12, 2009 at 6:42 PM

several hunters in my county have offered to take the prisoners. for free. because it is their patriotic duty, of course.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:41 PM

There are a whole lotta’ Americans who would have handled the Uigher situation for free. No money down, no questions asked, problem: solved.

Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:43 PM

and btw: it will be a helluva lot easier for these terrorists to move about the world from Bermuda than from some dark, dank, rat infested cell back in China. but that wouldn’t be “smart power”.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:43 PM

It’s funny to watch a people who have become too nelly to dispose of their worst enemies. And it seems you’re getting no thanks at all for your decency, or cruel pity, whatever it should be called.

Kralizec on June 12, 2009 at 6:45 PM

yeah, bush 43 knew he would mangle a speech or something if he tried his hand at foreign relations.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 6:45 PM

this juvenile administration is like a bennie hill sketch playing on an endless loop – all I can hear is that crazy music with obooba running around clueless, in high speed

best part is that uber rich DEMS own homes in bermuda – hope their values tank –

Ris4victory on June 12, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Bama is getting more like a Chavez every day.

“I won, so I get what I want, when I want it. I don’t care how, and don’t send IG’s after any of my bros, neither.”

Talk about “imperial presidency”, he makes Bush look like a dishrag when it comes to asserting himself. Where is the lefty outrage, amid the understanding that Bama is setting precedents that can be used AGAINST them just as easily if the winds change. Revenge is sweet, but guard your opponent’s freedom if you hope to preserve your own.

Wonder what the next edict will be from the messiah.

The little man, or whoever is running him, is a bomb thrower, not a healer or builder.

Harry Schell on June 12, 2009 at 6:46 PM

homesickamerican on June 12, 2009 at 6:48 PM

That would be a major jumping the shark moment..

a capella on June 12, 2009 at 6:52 PM

US detainees released in US: Guns at the ready…

Driefromseattle on June 12, 2009 at 6:55 PM

I gotta ask this: seeing what we’ve seen about the “king of the world” does this surprise anyone? Isn’t it about time for some sort of recall election?

Driefromseattle on June 12, 2009 at 6:57 PM

Nothing new here. Obama just trying to circumvent generations of rules and protocol regarding relations with other nations by calling up one guy and asking him to take these detainees without clearing it through the proper channels first.

Kinda like Obama taking over the Auto Industry and then casually re-writing decades worth of bankruptcy law and procedure by moving his union guys to the front of the line and telling everybody else to get out of their way.

Unfortunately, Britain is not going to roll over on this and the Bermuda government won’t either.

Look for these two stories in Palau and Bermuda to snowball in the next couple of days as protests erupt and there is a sudden reversal of policy.

And now Obama will know even offering small obscure countries huge bribes to take these detainees off his hands isn’t going to work.

manofaiki on June 12, 2009 at 6:59 PM

Looks like Obama is helping the unemployment numbers in Bermuda too (starting with Brown and then tourism).

tims472 on June 12, 2009 at 7:03 PM

What “Lizza” means is that nobody who voted for Obama cares. And Obama, he doesn’t care. So, in their world, “nobody cares!!!!!!!” Oh, wait, forgot the closer: “nobody cares!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!“
Lourdes on June 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Right on, right on.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2009 at 7:05 PM

manofaiki on June 12, 2009 at 6:59 PM

Yeah what’s the big deal about another few million dollars flushed away? Thanks Barry!

tims472 on June 12, 2009 at 7:06 PM

FireBlogger on June 12, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Total agree, the reason she took the Secretary of State job gives her a new platform from which to shine. After all, ducking her head to dodge all those incoming bullets keep her in the news.
Her POTUS ambitions are alive and well, Nurse Ratched & Will Bill Clinton will be back.

try again later on June 12, 2009 at 7:09 PM

“This is not just about Uighurs in Bermuda, though that issue typifies a style of leadership that is reckless, autocratic and conducted with no sense of accountability to the people or, indeed, to Bermuda’s Constitution.”

Sound like anyone we know?

Disturb the Universe on June 12, 2009 at 7:25 PM

umm, Is there anything stopping the Bermudans , or the peluvians, from just handing these bastards over to the Chinese Government?–easy solution

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on June 12, 2009 at 7:28 PM

i like that idea. just give the bad guys back to the Chinese. however, this is how the administration would play that scenario:

to the libs: “i did what i could for those poor Chinese men; i sent them to a nice country”.

to the conservatives: i circumvented all those whacko libs by sending the terrorists to Bermuda first when i planned all along for them to go back to China.

kelley in virginia on June 12, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Total agree, the reason she took the Secretary of State job gives her a new platform from which to shine.

Perfect platform to lay in wait. I suggest when she leaves it will be very public and will center on an issue that she owns an upper hand on.

He will be blindsided by a kind of politics that makes the Chicago Way look like kindergarten play time.

Old Bill is probably scripting the ordeal as we speak.

Act one has been letting The One dry on the vine concerning Guantanamo. Of course this Uighur mess is blowing up. A good politician would never handle it so poorly.

Hillary, while not likable is a very shrewd politician. She could take command of the Guantanamo mess but is too smart to help.

Act two is anyone’s guess but by act 4 grab the popcorn and tune in to watch the two pros deconstruct The One.

FireBlogger on June 12, 2009 at 7:51 PM

According to the BBC a US government official claimed that the UK was deliberately not informed and the reason was so that the UK would honestly be able to tell China it knew nothing of the deal, and therefore avoid Chinese anger.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8098341.stm

That still leaves the question of why the Bermudan government didn’t inform the UK government.

Could it be that this was actually a carefully arranged plan with the UK doing the USA a discreet, deniable, off-the-record favour?

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Could it be that this was actually a carefully arranged plan with the UK doing the USA a discreet, deniable, off-the-record favour?

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 8:08 PM

We have a winner.

DaveO on June 12, 2009 at 8:24 PM

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 8:08 PM

If that is the case, then since Bermuda is a British territory, how does going behind the UK’s back on this deal put them in a better position now that they actually have possession of Chinese citizens that China wants back?

I call bs on that excuse. I agree it was a deliberate decision not to inform the UK government, but that was because Obama knew they would say no, just like Merkel in Germany NOT because Obama was trying to give the Brits deniability. He’s now created an international relations problem for the Brits and a sovereignty issue between them and a territory.

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 8:34 PM

The Parrothead terrorist policy?

“Wastin’ away again in Marga-Uighurville……”

or

“Chinese Uighur in paradise……”

jnelchef on June 12, 2009 at 8:35 PM

If that is the case, then since Bermuda is a British territory, how does going behind the UK’s back on this deal put them in a better position now that they actually have possession of Chinese citizens that China wants back?

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 8:34 PM

Bermuda has a fair amount of Autonomy but the UK has responsibility for its foreign affairs and security. If asked the UK can say that while it didn’t want these men and would never have agreed to admit them, now that they are there a different set of considerations applies, i.e. asylum, human rights legislation, Bermudan autonomy in citizenship matters, or whatever.

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM

Does no one in this Admin have any honor or loyalty? Who would believe in 2009 that the greatest Nation would be run by amatuers. Give them back to China who will deal with them for loosing face. Please!

LSUMama on June 12, 2009 at 9:11 PM

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM

I don’t disagree that the Brits can say that, but it doesn’t ease the fact that by formal agreement Bermuda was obligated to inform the Brits of this negotiation as it is a foreign affairs matter and the Brits are responsible for the security of that territory. And it doesn’t do anything to avoid the international relations problem that the Brits now face with the Chinese. Sounds to me that if that was the strategy of the Obama administration, it was a very flawed reasoning. The Chinese can still apply pressure on the Brits to turn over their citizens. What it does do is shift the problem to the UK government since they too have a policy of not transferring a citizen of another country if the said country has a death penalty. That it seems to me was the motive behind this move, to transfer the problem to the UK and out of Obama’s hands.

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 9:21 PM

I meant to say … they too do have a policy

They won’t extradite the Uighurs to China unless China agrees not to execute them. If we wouldn’t give them to China, I doubt that the UK will but now they have a real problem that was created by our president not to mention the internal problem they now have with their territory.

I tell you what, if Obama really thought this was a wonderful idea and didn’t see the consequences of his actions, we are in for a world of hurt .. literally.

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 9:39 PM

So we gave up on promoting Freedom and we are sending terrorist to other countries on the Taxpayers dime. Bizzaro world is here. What a political strategy, Thanks BHO

adamsdad on June 12, 2009 at 9:59 PM

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Perhaps we have a slight misunderstanding.

If my speculative hypothesis is correct then yes, as you suggest, the US government has done this to shift the problem to the UK government.

What I am adding to that suggestion is the idea that this might have been done with the knowledge and connivance of some senior person in the UK government, perhaps as a favour by Mr Brown to Mr Obama. In that case the USA official who said the UK was not informed was lying, and the protests of the UK government were merely theatrics.

In other words, if my speculative hypothesis is correct, the USA government actually hasn’t gone behind anybody’s back … but everybody (USA, Bermuda and UK) is pretending that the USA has done a sneaky thing in order that these men can be free and everybody can deny responsibility for the deal if China asks.

(*) The USA was already in trouble with China for not giving them back, so no change.
(*) The UK can say they were never asked but now there is nothing they can legally do. This keeps Mr Brown out of trouble with China and with his own electorate.
(*) And Bermuda can play all innocent and say they are just a little country that isn’t allowed to have direct contact with China and they never realised this was a big issue.

Everybody in the game is happy:

(*) Mr Obama gets rid of a very tricky problem.
(*) The UK can use this favour to pay for some past or future favour that the UK might have had, or might want, from the USA.
(*) The Uighers get jobs in a place that is almost certainly 20x nicer than their former homes in Xinjiang.
(*) China has saved face without actually having to do anything.
(*) Bermuda can use the favour to pay for past or future favours it might want from the USA or UK.

The only people who aren’t happy are a few ‘little, unimportant people’ in Bermuda and the UK who might think yet more Muslims is a bad idea at any time.

Is my hypothesis correct? Really, I have no idea … it is pure speculation.

Is it feasible? Hmmm, it has some weaknesses; for example it could adversely affect Bermuda’s reputation. Also if the supposed deal is ever revealed there could be political repercussions for the Bermuda government and for Mr Brown, but Mr Brown is already almost dead politically.

Is it possible? These are politicians and diplomats we are thinking about; I try not to be cynical, but they are consummate liars.

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 10:05 PM

(*) China has saved face without actually having to do anything.
(quoting myself)

The reason China saves face is a little convoluted.

If these men had been transferred to, say, France or Germany or directly to the UK mainland then China would either have to meekly not ask for them, or ask and get rebuffed. Either scenario involves loss of face. Also if China is rebuffed then, in order to regain ‘face’ it would need to retaliate in some way, but China wouldn’t really want a conflict over something so minor … the conflict would just be a face-saving exercise, not real angst.

However if the men are transferred to places that have no formal connection with China then China cannot exactly ask directly. Since China cannot really ask, it cannot be rebuffed so it cannot lose face in that way. China can still register a formal protest but when a tiny and unimportant state/territory ignores that protest it is not humiliating for China as rebuffal by a large state would be.

So, it is conceivable that far from being a stupid move by the USA government, it is actually a very smart move that spares China a loss-of-face problem, avoids an unnecessary and pointless diplomatic conflict with China, and avoids a political conflict in the USA.

The concept of ‘face’ is very important in China. The loss-of-face I have talked about might be both nationally (in the PRCs dealings ith its neighbours), and also within the PRC government … i.e. the diplomats or politicians whose job it would be to demand the return of the Uighers.

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 10:29 PM

The only people who aren’t happy are a few ‘little, unimportant people’ in Bermuda and the UK who might think yet more Muslims is a bad idea at any time.
YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 10:05 PM

I think I understand your motivation behind your creative hypothesis. Seems the little unimportant people you refer to in Bermuda consist of citizens and elected officials and it seems that their objection isn’t to more Muslims but rather to Muslims who were captured at Tora Bora and crossing over into Pakistan during the American bombardment and who had been trained by AQ to carry out terrorists attacks in their home country. I mean what could go wrong especially in a global economic crisis for a little island that get 80% of their GPD from tourism? Maybe they can create a new tourist attraction and have the Uighurs set up a AQ-style training facility and launch a new reality TV program right there on the island.

Or maybe they ought to be worried about the next decade or so as this little foursome becomes a colony of separatists who eventually decide they want their own country on the same island.

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 10:29 PM

Obama is a muslim. He’s taking care of his boyz…
He’s exposing Israel…
He’s kissing middle east muslim axx at every turn..
He’s muslim
You succcaahhhs….

frizzbee on June 12, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Or maybe they ought to be worried about the next decade or so as this little foursome becomes a colony of separatists who eventually decide they want their own country on the same island.

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 10:29 PM

Yes. But almost all the governments of the supposedly civilised world seem to be in denial about the expansive intentions of the Islamic world.

Their partly-stuffed heads are so tightly bound to their ill-conceived legislation to respect and preserve wild-life at any cost that when confronted by a hungry tiger, they are incapable of conceiving a lawful and respectful plan to avoid being eaten.

If the great and the good of Europe and America — highly educated visionaries that they are — can’t understand that importing Islam was, and is, suicidally foolish then there is no reason to expect that the leaders of Bermuda will see the danger either.

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 11:21 PM

If the great and the good of Europe and America — highly educated visionaries that they are — can’t understand that importing Islam was, and is, suicidally foolish then there is no reason to expect that the leaders of Bermuda will see the danger either.

YiZhangZhe on June 12, 2009 at 11:21 PM

Well, the great and good in America are the American people and they have made their wishes known. As to the great and good in Europe, well, I often wonder just how overrun they might have been if it hadn’t been for President Bush. They man they love to hate is the very person who pulled back the veil of the threat of Islam that had been spreading silently across Europe. They owe their future to the very man they disdain.

What I really would like to know and hopefully it will eventually come to light is… WHO came up with this idea and what did the PM of Bermuda gain from it?

Texas Gal on June 12, 2009 at 11:40 PM

Can we have a vote of no confidence as well?

SouthernGent on June 12, 2009 at 11:47 PM

Given his lack of historical knowledge, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama did NOT know that Bermuda was a British commonwealth country.

Common Sense on June 13, 2009 at 12:26 AM

This is just a starter debacle. Just wait until Obama starts undermining some real governments.

Jim Treacher on June 13, 2009 at 2:19 AM

To be fair to Obama, I had no idea that Bermuda was a British responsibilty, and I am a Brit. Its as much a surprise to me as it is to anyone else.

I think the big danger here is to the reputation of Bermuda. They rely entirely upon tourism for their income – who would want to go there knowing a bunch of Guantanamo terrorists are walking around free as a bird to do whatever they want?

Putting aside the insult to us Brits which is pretty much par for the course from Obama these days, it has done terrible damage to the Bermudan tourism industry.

The thought of bombs in paradise does’t go down too well in travel brochures, especially at a time when the credit crunch is crippling the tourist industry.

Someone in Bermuda seriously hasn’t thought this through.

dcpolwarth on June 13, 2009 at 3:37 AM

I would take one of em’ too… for $200 million. Chain em’ up and waterboard them for all eternity.

GW_SS-Delta on June 13, 2009 at 7:31 AM

The One didn’t tell Brown and the local PM didn’t tell his legislature that the terrorists were coming. What did Obummer promise this guy? Will the One give his next speech from Bermuda? I wish I could afford an island getaway.

Kissmygrits on June 14, 2009 at 6:59 PM