“Last week, President Obama returned the bust of Winston Churchill that used to sit in former President Bush’s Oval Office to the British government. It has since been replaced by a bust of Abraham Lincoln. ?This action, of course, has left British diplomats anxious and speculating over how much influence the British government has left in Washington.””
Last week, President Obama returned the bust of Winston Churchill that used to sit in former President Bush’s Oval Office to the British government.
It has since been replaced by a bust of Abraham Lincoln. ?This action, of course, has left British diplomats anxious and speculating over how much influence the British government has left in Washington.
The bust, lent to George Bush after the 9/11 attacks, is of Britain’s most celebrated leader.
In many ways, he is perhaps an American icon as well.
Yet, President Obama may have deeper reasons for replacing the bust besides making room for good old Abe.
It was under Churchill’s leadership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion.
One of the Kenyans allegedly tortured by the remaining colonial regime was Hussein Onyango Obama.
That’s right, the President’s grandfather.
In his stunning reputation as a wartime hero and as one of the most celebrated British leaders in history, we sometimes forget how much of a colonizer Churchill was.
Not only was he involved in Africa, but in the Middle East as well.
Iran’s history through the 20th century has Britain’s exploitative stamp all over it, from the beginnings of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (which became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and, eventually, British Petroleum) to the coup that overthrew the democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was the Prime Minister.
If you are wondering who to blame for the enemy of the West that Iran has become, look no further. You can blame Britain.
But, unfortunately, there is more. In the Bengal famine of 1943, an estimated 3 million people died from starvation and malnutrition.
Don’t forget, of course, that this was in a British colony.
It would be unfair to blame all of these disasters on Churchill alone, or to assume that they were all under his complete control.
There were many factors that went into these historic events, but as the Prime Minister, Churchill is certainly responsible.
Cultural and political icon or not, there were things that Britain did under Churchill’s leadership that make the removal of his bust completely understandable.
In light of Obama’s determination to reach out an open hand to foreign countries, especially our enemies, the replacement of the bust makes perfect sense.
While that project doesn’t end with the redecoration of the Oval Office, it is definitely a helpful start.