Sunday, March 28, 2010

Special relationship between UK and US is over, MPs say.

The Commons Foreign Affairs committee has said that British politicians should stop using the phrase "special relationship" when describing the relationship between the United States and the UK, even though the relationship between the two countries remains "profound and valuable".

The committee said although Britain and the US still had close ties, the UK's influence had "diminished" as its economic and military power had waned.

"The use of the phrase 'the special relationship' in its historical sense, to describe the totality of the ever-evolving UK-US relationship, is potentially misleading, and we recommend that its use should be avoided," the committee said.

"The overuse of the phrase by some politicians and many in the media serves simultaneously to de-value its meaning and to raise unrealistic expectations about the benefits the relationship can deliver to the UK."

There are many in the UK who appear to believe that, because America and the UK share a common language, that this somehow means that we are like each other.

I think most Brits, like myself, have enormous affection for Americans, and find them warm and optimistic and friendly. However, that is how we relate as people when we meet.

But, in terms of the world stage, Britain is no longer the world power it was when this phrase was first used by Winston Churchill, and when the phrase was applied by Tony Blair to describe his relationship with George Bush, British people found it sufficiently embarrassing to label Blair Bush's poodle.

Blair seemed to see Britain's role - as he repeated recently in front of Chilcot - as to ensure that the US did not go to war in Iraq on it's own. Quite why, he never specified. And I certainly never understood this line of reasoning.

If an ally wants to engage in illegality, why was it our job to apply a fig leaf of respectability?

The committee has stated:

"The UK needs to be less deferential and more willing to say no to the US on those issues where the two countries' interests and values diverge.

"The UK's relationship should be principally driven by the UK's national interests within individual policy areas. It needs to be characterised by a hard-headed political approach to the relationship and a realistic sense of the UK's limits."

That is so obvious that it shouldn't even have to be said, but there were times under Blair when it was impossible to work out what Britain was supposed to be gaining by embracing the insane neo-con world view.

The truth is that the United States has a special relationship with one country and one country alone; and that is Israel. But, when Britain and Israel teemed up to invade Suez the United States were not shy about stating what it thought were it's best interests and telling it's allies to withdraw.

We need to view our relationship with the US according to our own interests, and to avoid the embarrassing sycophancy which occurred during the Blair years.

The relationship will always be close and terribly important, but lets leave the phrase "special relationship" in the past, where it belongs.

It reminds far too many of us of Bush and Blair. And that was simply embarrassing.

Click here for full article.

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