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July 1, 2010

A stain on U.S. - U.K. relations

by Marjorie Fuchs, Editor-in-Chief
The dog days of summer are upon us. Instead of attending school we get to spend our days relaxing by the pool, watching fireworks or going to the beach. But even now, two months after the initial Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we can’t escape the fact that oil is slowly creeping towards our coveted summer playground, threatening the summer lifestyle that has long been destroyed in the Gulf Coast.

The BP oil spill has put heavy strain on not only the environment but also the U.S.'s foreign relations. Courtesy of Reuters
The BP oil spill has put heavy strain on not only the environment but also the U.S.'s foreign relations.
Yes, we’ve heard of the horrors caused by the explosion of the BP offshore drilling platform countless times. We've also heard blame for the incident be thrown endlessly around. President Obama blamed BP for the spill; under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP, the company who owns the well, is the “responsible party” and thus holds the liability for the spill. But BP accused the contractors of using faulty materials on the rig; they in turn blamed BP for mismanagement. Government drilling policies and regulatory agencies may also be at fault for vast oversights on drilling procedures and practices. One could also blame the millions of owners of gas-guzzling cars, the Middle Eastern oil suppliers and even Henry Ford for inventing the Model T, which ran on oil. The oil spill fiasco has turned into a finger-pointing game in which everyone is at fault and everyone loses.

The consequences of the spill have weighed heavily on the relationship between the United States and Britain. Dubbed the “special relationship,” the U.S. and Britain have historically been exceptionally close in political, diplomatic and cultural dealings, as exhibited by the British support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. This relationship has been threatened by the oil spill, and one company is at the forefront: BP.

President Obama has promised to “make BP pay for the damages the company has caused.” This seems only fair, and BP has pledged $20 million to people affected by the spill. But some Britons feel that Obama’s criticism has been too harsh and has unfairly demonized their country. They are irritated that Obama has continually referred to the company as ‘British Petroleum’ - even though it opted for the initials BP years ago. Many Britons see the U.S.’s grilling of London-based BP as a reason for the company’s drastically decreasing stock prices, according to the New York Times. But we should not let time spent debating the name of the company and its origin distract from the need to clean up the massive amounts of oil polluting the ocean.

It is obvious that the U.S. and Britain are long-time partners and have a successful, bilateral relationship spanning generations. Both leaders, BP, U.S. regulatory agencies and the oil-obsessed public of America must recognize that blame for this crisis needs to be put aside and that both countries must work together to solve the spill as well as to prevent something as monstrous as this from ever happening again. The oil spill is bigger than the ‘special relationship’; it is a predicament that hurts more and more everyday and that needs full cooperation between all involved parties to be solved.



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  • Typo on July 2, 2010 at 2:16 AM
    The fund created by BP was for $20 billion, not $20 million. And where is your support for the very broad statement that US-UK relations are strained?
    • Not the author on July 9, 2010 at 5:44 PM
      I'm not the author of the article, but I certainly found plenty of support within the article. If you need further examples, you merely need to enter "US UK Relations Strained" into Google.
      ----
      "There is growing unease in Britain over the White House’s handling of the Gulf oil spill, particularly its hard-nosed approach to BP, and also over Afghanistan, where, just days ago, Obama ordered a shakeup in the U.S. command that coincided with the deadliest month for NATO troops since the war began in 2001."
      Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/39045.html#ixzz0tDufDIRE
      ----
      "America’s justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business"
      http://www.economist.com/node/16377269?page=2
      ----

      In a broader sense, the British are fearful of the affects on their economy as well. BP is the main investment source for most pensioners, and they therefore blame Obama (whether the blame is misplaced or not is a "two each his own" equation) for it's crashing stock. Briton's are also angered at Obama's targeted attacks against the company (ie: "make BP pay", stated by the author)

      Another main issue is definitely Obama's use of "British Petroleum".

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