US-UK: is the ‘special relationship’ over?

Voice of Russia
Sergei Sayenko: Mar 16th, 2012

On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron wrapped up his three-day state visit to the United States, leaving experts at odds over the results of the visit.

When in the United States, Cameron held high-level talks with President Barack Obama, paid tribute to victims of the 9/11 attacks and visited the New York University. The British PM also attended an NCAA basketball match in Ohio. In an unprecedented move, Obama invited Cameron to travel there on board the presidential plane.

Speaking to reporters in the White House on Thursday, the two leaders said they were happy with the results of Cameron’s visit to the United States.

The two men using emotive language during Thursday’s press conference was only natural, given that they were delivering their speeches in the presence of 5,500 guests who gathered outside the White House. All the more so as both Cameron and Obama are known for being eloquent speakers.

Some analysts, however, point to the fact that Cameron’s visit saw no breakthroughs in the bilateral relations between the countries. On Wednesday, for example, the two sat down for talks on issues such as Iran, Syria and the war in Afghanistan. However, they said nothing new or extraordinary on the matter which, in particular, prompted journalists to portray the British PM’s visit to the United States as ‘basketball diplomacy.’

The current level of bilateral ties prodded experts to question the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US which jointly grappled with the communist threat during the Cold War. The past ten years have seen the two staunch allies jointly participating in a spate of international military conflicts and wars, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq has already wrapped up, while the war in Afghanistan is coming to a close – something that means that Washington will soon have no need for Britain’s support which will come in handy if the US unleashes a new war in Iran or Syria, for example.

It is open secret that the two countries’ ‘special relationship’ is mainly related to the military and foreign policy sphere. With Britain continuing to drastically reduce military spending, some observers argue that this may prevent the UK from expanding its international clout in the future. Also, this may diminish Britain’s role as Washington’s strategic ally, experts say, referring to the UK’s fading influence in Europe where Germany and France are currently calling the shots.

It is safe to assume, therefore, that Cameron’s visit to the United States can be seen as a visit by the Prime Minister of a country which is losing its global clout. ‘We Americans and Brits speak the same language – most of the time,’ Obama said during his Wednesday’s talks with Cameron. This is not enough, though, to speak of the ongoing ‘special relationship’ between Washington and London, our political commentator says, not ruling out that the next few months may see Washington paying much more respect to top officials of China or Germany during their possible visits to the United States.

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