Obamateurism of the Day

It’s bad enough when Barack Obama panders at home.  It’s worse when he panders abroad.  And it’s downright humiliating when our President can’t even get his geography straight while selling our closest ally — and the principle of self-determination — down the river (via Fausta):

And in terms of the Maldives [sic] or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. We have good relations with both Argentina and Great Britain, and we are looking forward to them being able to continue to dialogue on this issue. But this is not something that we typically intervene in.

First, the Maldives are on the other side of the globe from the Falklands; they’re in the Indian Ocean.  The term Obama wanted — and the one provided by the reporter in the press conference in the question — was Islas Malvinas, the name Argentina calls the British islands in the south Atlantic. Furthermore, the US doesn’t recognize them as the Malvinas; throughout the State Department website, the terms Falklands or Falkland Islands are used, occasionally with Malvinas in parentheses.

There’s a reason for that.  The US ended up backing the British in the Falkland Islands war in the early 1980s, albeit reluctantly, because (a) the people who live on the islands support British sovereignty, and (b) the Falklands are over 250 nautical miles from Argentina anyway.  The only legitimate claim Argentina has on the islands is traditional Argentinian politics, which these days is being driven by the large oil deposits in the Falklands region.  Under the auspices of both history and self-determination, Argentina has no business in the Falklands.

It would be nice if an American President stood up for self-determination, or at least for our ally.  But it would be at least something if Obama bothered to learn the names for the geography of the region before pontificating on it.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

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