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To what degree the Obama camp has been infected by this unquestioning attribution of righteousness is up for grabs. The administration's edicts to Britain earlier this year are probably more the result of an insensitive imperiousness: "When we say something is good for us, that should be the end of it. After all, we know how eager you are to please."

Still, it's a safe bet that Obama and his advisers have little on-the-ground feel for what membership of the EU entails for its citizens: having everything from the size of your wine bottles to the nature of your light bulbs controlled by a body in which you have no real say. Living in a country that can't control its own immigration policy or fishing waters. Having the decisions of your highest courts subject to a yet higher court, so that a known terrorist rabble-rouser can never be deported but instead resides comfortably in your capital city for years on public support. Huddling under an umbrella bureaucracy so caught up in its own sense of noblesse oblige that if you ever do get to vote on something and you deliver the wrong answer, you'll be required to go back and vote again until you get your mind right. Think Americans would put up with that? The insurrection greeting American membership of anything like the EU would make Timothy McVeigh's anti-federal shenanigans in Oklahoma City seem like kicking the cat.

Moreover, for Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary of European affairs, to have decried referendums of any sort in January as having "often turned countries inward" is wildly at odds with the traditional American veneration of democracy. I haven't heard Obama castigating referendum-happy California for its resultant navel-gazing and myopia.

The Obama administration's attempt to discourage the British electorate's ever being given a choice in a membership that controls the minutiae of their daily lives, yet on which they have not been consulted since 1975, was high-handed. Should the UK indeed perform slavishly as a mouthpiece for American policy, maybe Philip Gordon is right — that a "strong British voice" in the EU is "in the American interest". But squelching the democratic process is not in the American spirit.  

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venze
March 1st, 2013
1:03 AM
US has always valued UK as a close obedient proxy, their relationship ought to remain special. Blair and Bush understood each other well, however, Cameron and Obama may not see eye to eye on a variety of issues. "UK to US: Butt out." Sure? (btt1943, vzc1943)

LESD
February 28th, 2013
7:02 PM
A British conservative accuses someone else of "old-style imperialism." Attention: This is the irony police! We have you surrounded! Come out with your hands up!

celtthedog
February 28th, 2013
6:02 PM
Re: But squelching the democratic process is not in the American spirit. What planet are you on? The US has squelched the democratic process all over the world -- from Chile to Iran. The American view of democracy is that it's great for the US -- for others, not so much.

Matt Hall
February 28th, 2013
5:02 PM
America to UK: Good Luck!

J Flynn
February 28th, 2013
3:02 PM
A thoroughly well reasoned article that highlights the problem that even democractic US administrations have with imperiousness.

Silverfiddle
February 28th, 2013
3:02 PM
Living in a country that can't control its own immigration policy or fishing waters. Having the decisions of your highest courts subject to a yet higher court... [...] Think Americans would put up with that? Unfortunately, the same crowd of lefties you so rightly nail in this article are indeed trying to do the same thing to the US. They dream of the day when corrupt UN panjandrums, lilliputian-like, tie down the evil American Gulliver.

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