What Special Relationship?

UK-US- (2)

By the Article Blogger 54

The claim by former presidential advisor Jeremy Shapiro, that the so-called special relationship between the UK & US was regarded as a joke by ex-President Obama and his aides, comes as no great surprise to me. I’ve no doubt the current administration regards it that way too. Personally I find it both cringe-worthy and embarrassing.

Speaking at the 2017 Cheltenham Literary Festival, Mr Shapiro remarked ‘that the so-called special relationship ”was never really something that was very important to the United States”’ further stressing that ‘”America did not see its relationship with Britain as any different from that with other European countries”’.1

I believe that a special relationship did exist between Margaret Thatcher (British prime minister 1979-1990) and Ronald Reagan (US president 1981-1989).  On a different level and for very different reasons, a special relationship also existed between Tony Blair (British prime minister 1997-2007) and George W Bush (US president 2001-2009).

Regardless of how long or short their duration, relationships, just like everything else in life, are temporary and their participant’s transient in nature and any special relationship(s) that Britain may have had with the US in the past have long since expired and now ‘ancient’ history as far as both national and international politics on both sides of the pond are concerned.

Although I was not uncomfortable with the Reagan / Thatcher situation and accept that it was apt at the time, I now find the whole ‘special relationship’ concept somewhat distasteful in today’s ever changing political climate where yesterday’s movers and shakers have become the moved and shaken and where they who once paid the piper have now become the piper and seemingly ever willing to pipe at a reduced rate.

Mrs May and her government would do well to cast aside any wishful thinking or rose-tinted delusions about Britain’s precarious position on the world stage and take careful note of Mr Shapiro’s reference to President Trump’s “’willingness to exploit the UK’s need for a special relationship to get a good trade deal’” and the post Brexit prospect of the US exporting chlorinated chicken to the UK where he specifically warns: “’The UK needs to be wary about that deal – there’s going to be a lot of chlorinated chickens. When they look at that, they are not going to feel particularly special’”1

To that I would add my own, albeit Americanized interpretation of Mr Shapiro’s words: The Brit’s need to wake up and smell the roses otherwise they will get well and truly screwed.

On that point, and unto the manner of Brexit:  a no US / UK trade deal is better than a bad US / UK trade deal. In short, we don’t need their chlorinated chickens; not at all.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that a normal diplomatic and political relationship with the US would serve British interests far better than a one-sided / non reciprocal / self-deluding ‘special’ relationship ever will.

1 Hayward, Eleanor & Doyle, Jack. “US diplomats saw ‘special relationship’ as just a joke”. Daily Mail [London] 10 October 2017. Published: p.20


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First published on 10th October 2017