- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The deputy ambassador at the British Embassy recently boasted about the British burning of the White House during the War of 1812, calling the sacking of Washington a “great British victory.”

Philip Barton, in an apparent attempt at humor, referred to the attack on the U.S. capital as he welcomed British boxer Amir “King” Khan to Washington this month to promote a Dec. 10 championship match with D.C. prizefighter Lamont “Havoc” Peterson.

Amir, you may have ceded the home advantage to Lamont,” Mr. Barton said at a reception at the British Embassy, “but you - and he - should know this: There are a lot of us Brits here in Washington.

“We have had some notable victories here over the years. We even managed to burn down the White House in 1814!

“So, rest assured, come 10 December, you’ll have your share of local support. All of us are looking forward to another great British victory.”

British forces under the command of Gen. Robert Ross set fire to the White House, the Capitol and other government buildings on the evening of Aug. 24, 1814, two years after the outbreak of the War of 1812.

The war erupted over unsettled disputes over maritime trade and land between Britain and the United States, 29 years after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution.

The war ended in another peace treaty in December 1814, but news of the accord failed to reach Andrew Jackson in time to prevent the Battle of New Orleans.

Jackson, who would be elected the seventh president of the United States in 1829, commanded an outnumbered, ragtag band of U.S. soldiers, freed slaves and pirates who inflicted massive casualties on British forces on Jan. 8, 1815.

The United States is preparing to commemorate the bicentennial of the conflict, which began with a congressional declaration of war against Britain in June 1812.

Mr. Barton uttered his fightin’ words at an Oct. 6 reception, where he introduced Khan, the light welterweight world champion. The 24-year-old boxer from Bolton, England, has won 26 professional fights and lost one. He won 18 fights with knockouts.

Peterson, the 27-year-old hometown hero, won half of his 30 fights with knockouts. He has lost only one professional match.

Boxers in the welterweight division must weigh no more than 140 pounds.


The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines created an uproar over his claims that 40 percent of male visitors to the South Asian nation come for illegal sex.

Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. made the comment at a forum in late September and then scrambled to apologize after realizing he got his facts wrong.

“I should not have used the 40 percent statistic without the ability to back it up. I regret any harm that I may have caused,” he said in a text message to reporters in Manila this month.

He expressed “deep regret” for his remarks and promised that the United States will continue to work with the “strong and dedicated partner of the Filipino people in combating the global scourges of human trafficking and sexual tourism,” an embassy official told reporters.

Mr. Thomas sent his apology to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and a government spokesman called the matter closed.

“We, in fact, thanked the ambassador for his … statement of regret and apology when he learned he could not back up his statement,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters in Manila.

Mr. Thomas said he based his original comments on figures from the Philippines Justice Department, which denied it had compiled such numbers.

The Philippines is trying to combat the illegal sex trade that has earned it a reputation of a destination for so-called sex tourism.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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