Archives for February 6, 2009

A not so special relationship

A Special Relationship: Anglo American Relations from the Cold War to Iraq

A Special Relationship: Anglo American Relations from the Cold War to Iraq

I saw the two secretaries of state for the U.K. and U.S.A do a joint press conference the other day.
David Miliband and Hillary Clinton representing their respective countries.

I have to admit I find it hard to take David Miliband very seriously. I mean he looks so young!
As I saw them both walk to their pedestals it did look a bit like a proud mum taking her son to college on his first day.

Which almost feels a little bit like the relationship we as a country have with America. Indulgent, slightly dismissive with a feeling that whatever you do you’ll only ever be mommy’s little boy.

This ‘special relationship’ has been talked about at length and a lot of people say that there is no special relationship at all. In fact the relationship is often considered one-sided. Many years ago a short sketch on ‘Spitting Image’ summed up a general feeling when it had a foamy Ronald Reagan kissing a foamy Margaret Thatcher goodbye and waving her off at the airport. As she departs he says something like, “Pity I’m only screwing the country.”

Recently the film ‘Love Actually’ portrayed the relationship between the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and the U.S. president (Billy Bob Thornton) in much the same way. But in this case Hugh told the president during a press conference basically where he can get off. He explained the relationship was supposed to be give and take, not an all take situation and in future Britain would be standing up for itself.

This all went down fantastically well in the movie with the British public (maybe it would if Gordon Brown said it in real life.) It leads me to think are we just the 51st. state or should we stop trying to be what it suits America for us to be and be independent?

When the new president was elected it was a hotly contested competition to see which countries leader and which foreign secretary would receive the first phone call from the new administration.
Britain won on both counts and I’m sure they were very pleased to do so. The British government would crawl over their respective grandmothers to be the recipients of the first phone call. Why this is important is not entirely clear. Is it supposed to give us some kind of advantage over our European allies? Does it make us feel that our relationship with the U.S. is on a different level? I don’t think so.

In times like this you have to admire the French. They don’t seem to give a toss what everyone else thinks and if they don’t like it then they’ll tell you and if there are consequences to that then so be it. Maybe we too shouldn’t be so scared.

Politicians would vehemently disagree but I always feel like we never make our own decisions. We just go along with whatever the U.S. decides. Like going to see a film with friends and then hating every bit of it because it wasn’t the one we really wanted to see but they were more forward about suggesting what THEY wanted.
(Hmm that’s a bad analogy. The consequences are far more serious than a wasted evening.)

It would be easier to take the consequences for our own actions if it was truly felt it was our actions we were taking responsibility for and not being puppet driven by a lord and master.

Let’s face it. You can only ride on someones coat-tails for so long before you eventually fall off.