David Ramey: Obama’s friend who may soon share the world stage with Trump

Few British politicians are as closely linked to the United States as David Lammy, who is set to become Britain’s foreign secretary if the opposition Labor Party wins the upcoming general election, polls suggest.

The son of Guyanese immigrants, he grew up in poverty. working class londonspent summers with relatives in Brooklyn and Queens, worked at Con Edison, then earned a master’s degree from Harvard Law School, befriended Barack Obama, and campaigned for him in Chicago during his first presidential campaign. Ta.

But now, as Mr. Lamy prepares to become Britain’s chief diplomat, he faces an uncertain and even hostile political situation in the United States. The Democratic Party, where President Biden and Mr. Lamy have built deep connections, is fighting to thwart a resurgent Donald J. Trump.

Mr Lammy, 51, with a transatlantic career, was chosen by Labor leader Keir Starmer and has been eager to build relationships with republicans and, even more difficult, with those around Mr Trump. ing. It’s a very different American system than the Democratic system he is familiar with.

Will Lamy visit Trump’s Palm Beach mansion, Mar-a-Lago, as Britain’s current foreign secretary, David Cameron, did two weeks ago to lobby the former president about military aid to Ukraine?

“Absolutely,” he said in an interview this week at Portcullis House in the Houses of Parliament, across the street from Big Ben. He noted that he will soon be heading to New York and Washington, where he said he would be “happy to talk to whoever the American people decide they want to run the country.”

This is a time-tested answer for foreign politicians in an American election year, especially those from the party that held the election. double digit voting lead He ruled the ruling Conservative Party for 18 months. But unlike many Europeans who view Trump with a mixture of fear and bewilderment, Lamy seems genuinely convinced that he can find common ground with those in Trump’s shoes. is.

He has met with former Trump officials, including Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state and CIA director, and Robert C. O’Brien, Trump’s last national security adviser. And he developed a relationship with Sen. J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican and ardent Trump convert.

Vance’s best-selling memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” is similar to his own story of growing up with a single mother and an absent alcoholic father in Tottenham, where race riots roiled the streets, he said. Told. Ramey, whose memoir is titled “Out of the Ashes,” said that reading Vance’s book “bringed me to tears.”

“I said to J.D., ‘Look, our politics are different, but we’re both very strong Christians and we share quite a tough upbringing,'” he said after Mr James. Mr Lamy, who will become the only black foreign minister, said: Smart, conservative.

The challenge for Mr. Lamy is that he has more in common with Mr. Obama, who was several years ahead of him at Harvard. The two met 20 years ago at a black alumni gathering and had dinner together when Obama attended. visited london last month. A portrait of the former president painted by Lamy’s wife, artist Nicola Greene, hangs in Obama’s Washington office. recorded his 2008 campaign.

Benjamin J. Rhodes, one of Mr. Obama’s former advisers, introduced Mr. Ramey to other Democrats and they became friends. He predicted that if a Labor government and a second Biden administration take office, “the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom will become much more aligned.”

But Rose said Lamy’s outgoing demeanor and pragmatic politics would at least give him a fighting chance against the Trump administration. “I think he believes in the power of personality to build relationships within that circle,” Rose said.

For now, Lamy is determined not to offend. Asked about Trump’s recent comments that he would instruct Russia to “do whatever they want” to NATO members that don’t pay their fair share of the costs of the alliance, Ramy said he believed there was a right to burden sharing. I picked up the mention.

“Is Donald Trump right?” he said. “100 percent.”

Mr Lamy said too many NATO countries were still falling short of the alliance’s target of military spending equal to 2% of gross domestic product (the UK spends around 2.2%). Labor has pledged to raise this to 2.5%, and Mr Lamy accused the Conservatives of reducing British military blood loss to a scale not seen since the Napoleonic era.

“I recognize Donald Trump’s ability to use language to focus minds,” he said.

Other Labor veterans have no illusions about the compatibility between a Labor government and Mr Trump. The former president clashed with Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, but has a good relationship with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and praised current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to water down Britain’s climate change targets. Years before visiting Mar-a-Lago, Cameron spoke out about Trump’s threat to ban Muslims from entering the United States.divisive, stupid and wrong

“A Trump administration would be very difficult for a Labor government, but it would also be difficult for Rishi Sunak’s government,” said Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair.

With transatlantic relations at risk of being thrown into turmoil, Lamy highlights Britain’s own neighbours.new Foreign Affairs magazine essay He has a foreign policy based on what he calls “progressive pragmatism” and says Britain needs to focus on rebuilding its security relationship with the European Union, which has weakened in the wake of Brexit. Stated.

Lamy said mending fences with Europe would be necessary regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins in November, as the United States becomes increasingly preoccupied with competition from China. .

“That’s why Britain has to play a role here in Europe,” Lamy said, adding that Labor is better placed than the Conservatives to restore trust given the suspicions of Brexiteers like Johnson in Europe. He added that he was in a favorable position. “Europe is keen to turn the page. The US is keen for Britain to turn the page.”

Despite their different strategic priorities, the United States and Britain remain bitterly opposed in conflict areas such as the Middle East. British and American fighter jets jointly helped repel an Iranian air attack on Israel.

Britain’s position on the Israel-Gaza war reflects that of the United States, with Labor largely aligned with the Conservatives despite pressure from the left to take a harder stance on Israel. I have arranged it. Mr Lamy described the situation in Gaza as “hell on earth” but, like legal experts and some MPs, did not call for Britain to stop selling arms to Israel.

Ramy said he was “very concerned” about Israel’s possible violation of international law that would trigger a moratorium on arms exports, but did not want to pre-empt a ruling by government lawyers.

Mr Lammy said he was “also very conscious of the possibility that myself and Keir Starmer could be elected to office” in the coming weeks, should the Conservatives suffer a landslide defeat in local elections in early May. He pointed to speculation that Mr Sunak may call in the generals. election.

As he pondered that possibility, Ramey’s thoughts returned to the United States, where the struggles of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the election of Obama symbolized a moral distortion. He said he is doing so. The arc for racial justice that changed Britain too.

“If I have the privilege of becoming Foreign Secretary, I am very conscious that I will be the first Foreign Secretary who is a descendant of enslaved people – I almost get emotional when I say that. Become– “

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