You are herecontent / Special Relationship? Why Britain's Affair With the U.S. Is Over
Special Relationship? Why Britain's Affair With the U.S. Is Over
March 29, 2010 "Time" -- If anyone still doubts that George Bush and Tony Blair were the closest of allies, the text of a July 2002 note from the U.K. premier to the U.S. President, revealed in a new book, should dispel any lingering skepticism. "You know, George, whatever you decide to do [about Iraq], I'm with you," Blair assured his friend.
The End of the Party, an account by British political commentator Andrew Rawnsley of how Britain's Labour government came to squander a huge popular mandate to face possible defeat in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, identifies a multiplicity of contributory factors. Blair's unwavering determination to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with a martial U.S. is prominent among them. (See pictures of the Bush-Blair friendship.)
The damage may be permanent. On March 28 an influential cross-party committee of MPs in Britain weighed in on the wider impact of that policy. "The perception that the British Government was a subservient 'poodle' to the U.S. Administration leading up to the period of the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath is widespread both among the British public and overseas," states the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. "This perception, whatever its relation to reality, is deeply damaging to the reputation and interests of the U.K."
The committee goes further, with a call to jettison the term "special relationship" as ruthlessly as colonists once dumped tea into Boston Harbor. The expression was coined by no less a person than Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the intricate skeins of mutual interest, cultural heritage and sometimes gloopy sentiment that bind Washington and London. Globalization and "shifts in geopolitical power" mean that both countries are inevitably forming new and deep alliances with other players, and talk of a "special relationship" is increasingly misleading, says the report. "The overuse of the phrase by some politicians and many in the media serves simultaneously to devalue its meaning and to raise unrealistic expectations about the benefits the relationship can deliver to the U.K." (See the top ten most outrageous MP expense claims.) Read more.