That special relationship between Cameron and Obama? It’s over. And it’s unlikely the Camerons will be getting special invitations to the White House either.
In an article published yesterday, Obama made his strongest criticism of Cameron so far, calling him a “free rider” on foreign policy and saying Britain was too reliant on the United States to do its work.
The ‘Obama doctrine’ article mostly focused on foreign policy
If Obama ever questioned whether America really is the world’s one indispensable nation, he no longer does so. But he is the rare president who seems at times to resent indispensability, rather than embrace it. “Free riders aggravate me,” he told me. Recently, Obama warned that Great Britain would no longer be able to claim a “special relationship” with the United States if it did not commit to spending at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense. “You have to pay your fair share,” Obama told David Cameron, who subsequently met the 2 percent threshold.
Obama also said that Cameron had contributed to the mess in Libya by getting distracted.
“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong,” Obama said, “there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up,” he said. He noted that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, lost his job the following year.
And he said that British Prime Minister David Cameron soon stopped paying attention, becoming “distracted by a range of other things.” Of France, he said, “Sarkozy wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defenses and essentially set up the entire infrastructure” for the intervention.
Libya is a mess because Cameron wanted to use it to show strength.
In one swoop, Obama shredded Cameron’s foreign policy credibility.