President Obama’s decision not to send any significant member of his Administration to attend the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London was a regrettable decision that did disservice to the U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship.
The decision not to send a senior Administration official such as Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry dishonors the central role Lady Thatcher played in advancing freedom, democracy, and peace in the world for over a decade as the leader of the U.K. It also dishonors her important role as America’s number one ally during the Cold War.
Instead of dispatching a senior Administration representative to pay America’s final respects, President Obama sent a low-level delegation similar in size and scope to the delegation sent to the funeral of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
The official executive branch delegation to the Thatcher funeral consisted of former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker, former U.S. Ambassador to Britain Louis Susman, and U.S. Charges d’Affaires to the U.K. (and acting ambassador) Barbara Stephenson. The official executive branch delegation to the funeral of Hugo Chavez consisted of the Charges d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, a Congressman, and a former Congressman.
Former U.K. Defense Minister Liam Fox, himself a strong believer in the Special Relationship, expressed the disappointment of the U.K. people:
I think it would be both surprising and disappointing if after President Obama’s fulsome tribute to Lady Thatcher, the American administration did not send a senior serving member to represent them.
When Lady Thatcher’s close friend Ronald Reagan died in 2004, she attended his funeral services along with Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie. Sadly, Lady Thatcher herself was not paid the same respect by the Obama Administration. By not sending a current senior Administration official to represent the U.S. in London, Obama dishonored the debt of gratitude our nation owes Lady Thatcher for her steadfast friendship, and once again besmirched the U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship.