— The Erimtan Angle —

 

Earlier this week the U.S. President left the hallowed shores of America and flew to Ireland where he shamelessly publicised his Irish roots: “I am expecting to go not only to all the famous sites, but also to go to Moneygall, where my great-great-great-great-great grandfather hails from”.[1]  Then he hopped over to England, where he received a splendorous and royal welcome. In the International Business Times, Anissa Haddadi remarks cynically that “many accused him of basking in the massive popularity of the Queen in the United States, especially in the wake of the Royal wedding, watched by more than 20 million Americans a month ago”.[2]  But the real reason for Barrack’s European adventure this time around has to do with the G8 get-together in ‘the French seaside town of Deauville on May 26 and 27 for an annual summit’, where ‘[d]iscussions will cover unrest in North Africa and nuclear safety, as well as the race to name a new IMF head’ as reported by the news agency Reuters.[3]  And, just to remind ourselves, here is a handy summary also provided by Reuters: the‘G8 is an unofficial forum of the heads of the leading industrialised democracies: Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, the United States, Canada (since 1976) and Russia (since 1998). The European Commission has also been represented in all the sessions since the Ottawa Summit in 1981. The first summit in France in 1975 was called to settle a dispute over currencies, but meetings were soon expanded to discuss broad economic policy matters. The G8 countries account for 15% of the world’s population, but 65% of its gross domestic product . . .  The G8 focuses mainly on geopolitical and security issues, including its relations with Africa. The newer and broader G20 — which includes China, India, Brazil, Turkey and Mexico — focuses on global economic issues. The Deauville meeting will cover aid needs for Egypt and Tunisia, the conflict in Libya, repression in Syria and nuclear safety. The G8 has no permanent secretariat and its decisions are non-binding. A rotating presidency lets each G8 country chair the forum for a calendar year and organize and host the annual summit. The order of rotation is France, the United States, Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. France’s 2011 presidency marks its sixth turn as G8 chair, and coincides with its year-long G20 presidency’.[4] 

 

 

USA TODAY’s Richard Wolf reports that ‘[t]here may be just 4.5 million people in Ireland, but there are 36.3 million in the United States who claim Irish ancestors. That includes at least one in eight in key states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Indiana’.[5]  In other words, in the run up to the 2012 election, Barrack Obama is arguably using his trip abroad to bolster his domestic support. While the President is traveling Europe, South Asia has arrived in the U.S. in the form of a court trial in Chicago. The BBC reports that ‘Tahawwur Rana is accused of giving cover to a former friend, David Headley, who admitted scouting sites for the attack. He is expected to testify against Mr Rana. The trial is likely to shed light on alleged links between militant groups and the Pakistani secret intelligence service. Mr Rana denies the 12 charges that have been levelled against him. His lawyers say he was tricked by Headley, a longtime friend from their days at a Pakistani military school. Mr Rana was arrested in 2009, and if convicted, he faces a life sentence’.[6]  Rana is accused of involvement in the terrorist onslaught on Mumbai in ‘November 2008, [when] a group of 10 gunmen the US says were trained by militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, a Jewish centre and a major train station, each of which Headley had scouted in advance’.[7] 


[1] Anissa Haddadi, “Barack Obama’s European trip: What do his detractors have to say?” International Business Times (24 May 2011). http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/151036/20110524/obama-s-european-trip-what-do-his-detractors-have-to-say.htm.

[2] Anissa Haddadi, “Barack Obama’s European trip: What do his detractors have to say?”; “Royal Wedding Woes” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (30 April 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/royal-wedding-woes/.

[3] “What is the G8 and what does it do?” Reuters (25 May 2011). http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/features/whatistheg8andwhatdoesitdo_546236.html.

[4] “What is the G8 and what does it do?”.

[5] Richard Wolf, “President Obama’s European Trip Could Pay Benefits Abroad, At Home -1” USA Today (22 May 2011). http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-obama-european-trip-g8-summit-buckingham-palace/story?id=13643596.  

[6] “Tahawwur Rana Mumbai terror trial begins in Chicago” BBC News (23 May 2011). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13506041.

[7] “Tahawwur Rana Mumbai terror trial begins in Chicago”.

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