Ah yes that Special Relationship......

That Good ol Special Relationship is....

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( appallingly off-message tabloid widely derided by the Chatterati....daily circulation 2.1M)

President Barack Obama will have caused more than a few palpitations in Whitehall by suggesting that France, not Britain, is the United States’ most important ally. ‘We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy and the French *people,’ he told the French President on Monday.

Not America’s best buddy? The best brains in the Foreign Office will be *trying to persuade themselves Mr Obama did not really mean it. They will say he was only trying to be nice to Mr Sarkozy during the French *President’s visit to Washington.

But what if he really meant what he said? During visits to the U.S. by *Gordon Brown and David Cameron, Mr Obama has had every opportunity to say Britain was America’s *strongest ally, but did not take it. Indeed, he seemed to go out of his way to snub Mr Brown by refusing to meet him.

There are other bits of evidence that Mr Obama does not cherish the *‘special relationship’ so dear to the hearts of policymakers in Whitehall. As soon as he entered the Oval Office, he removed the bust of Winston Churchill that had been loaned to George W. Bush by the British government.

During Britain’s stand-off with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, the Obama administration has been at best neutral, at worst pro-*Argentine. And throughout the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year, the American President was keen to emphasise the British provenance of BP, the chief *perpetrator, and to make it pay.

Despite what the Foreign Office Johnnies may argue to themselves, there is enough evidence to suggest that Britain is not greatly valued by Mr Obama. And although there might be personal reasons for this — the American President claims his grandfather was *tortured by the British *during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya — I would *suggest his standpoint is shared by more American politicians than we might care to admit.

For most of the time we are regarded with indifference: an ally at once so loyal, depend*able and uncritical that we can be taken for granted. The *special relationship, about which our politicians obsess, is scarcely ever mentioned even by Britain’s friends in the U.S.

Cooling friendship? Obama could have re-emphasised the preeminence of relations with Britain during meetings with David Cameron and Gordon Brown but he chose not to

If France is more important than Britain to Washington, might this be because French policymakers have robustly pursued a line independent of the U.S. and the British have not? After the Suez debacle of 1956 — when America pulled the plug on the militarily successful Anglo-French invasion of Egypt — the two European countries responded in *diametrically different ways.​

While Britain grew ever closer to America, relying on American technology to produce its supposedly independent nuclear deterrent, France increasingly went its own *separate way. It developed its own nuclear arsenal — admittedly never proven — called the force de frappe, because it did not believe it could always rely on America to defend it from the Soviet threat.

France is our biggest ally, declares Obama: President's blow to Special Relationship with Britain

In 1966, President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO’s so-called *‘integrated command structure’, which meant that French soldiers were no longer subject to NATO (which often meant American) control, and senior French military personnel left NATO’s headquarters. France became a full member of the organisation again only in 2009.

France opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, whereas Britain, under the direction of the *fervently pro-American Tony Blair, committed 40,000 *servicemen, even though President Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had made it perfectly clear that they could happily do without them. The French might have been denigrated as ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ in the U.S., but who remembers that now?

In Afghanistan, France has committed only 3,850 troops and suffered 52 deaths, whereas Britain has 10,000 troops there (second only to America) and has lost 349 soldiers. Yet *Britain’s greater sacrifice in blood and money does not *prevent the American President from thinking France the more important ally.

United in arms: Tony Blair was determined to fight alongside the U.S. in Iraq - even though Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said they would be happy to fight without British support if the Prime Minister couldn't secure support for the conflict domestically

We could, and should, get jolly upset about this disgraceful lack of gratitude — and then stop and think. We should not be in Afghanistan to please the Americans, though I fear we largely are. (Remember how, after the attack on the World Trade Centre, Tony Blair wildly asserted: ‘We are all Americans now.’) We should be there to defend our national self-interest.

And maybe the French government has a beadier eye on its national interest than we do. Maybe it is sceptical about NATO’s ability to defeat the Taliban and so offers the bare minimum of troops. Almost certainly it does not feel it *necessary to prove its importance to America in the way the British Government does.

Most of us learn when we are young that the child who attaches himself unreservedly to the strongest boy in the class ends up being taken for granted by him, even treated with contempt. The boy who stands apart, and judges case by case whether or not to side with the class bully, generally earns more respect from the bully and the rest of the class.

Look how desperately craven our leaders have become. When Gordon Brown was snubbed by President Obama in *September 2009, he really was like a small boy who had been excluded by the class leader, and his advisers virtually pleaded for a ‘face-to-face’ with the American President. After five rebuffs, a hasty meeting was finally arranged.

When he became Prime *Minister, David Cameron lost little time in jumping on a plane to pay court to the American President. He was so keen to abase himself that he claimed that ‘Britain was the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting against Hitler’. *America did not declare war on Germany until December 1941.

Tony Blair was the most eager to bend the knee. According to the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir *Christopher Meyer, during talks before the Iraq War Mr Blair was so awestruck by the power of President Bush that he underestimated the leverage he had over him.

I can’t imagine President de Gaulle demeaning his *country. Or Winston Churchill. Or *Margaret Thatcher. Pro-American though she undoubtedly was, she was perfectly capable of criticising her friend Ronald Reagan, as she did in 1983 after America had invaded the *Caribbean island of Grenada without bothering to notice that the Queen was its head of state.

America is the world’s sole superpower, and for much of the past century it has been a force for good in the world. To be a close ally of such a country is both sensible and necessary, as France has understood. To be an overdependent, sometimes fawning friend is neither sensible nor necessary.

Will our attitude of sub*servience ever change? Our military and intelligence *services are locked in with their counterparts in the United States. Our political leaders have mortgaged much of our independence.

The only way to free ourselves is by seeing ourselves as the Americans see us. That is why we should welcome President Obama’s statement, graceless and ungrateful though it was. This country is only one among several important friends his country has, and should stop seeing itself as an appendage of the United States.

Obama now turning on the charm with France may be an indication that the tides of influence are once more changing. Just last year, the UK's Commons Foreign Affairs committee said it was wrong to speak of 'the special relationship' with the U.S., as the superpower was fostering other alliances.
The committee said the phrase 'the special relationship' did not reflect the 'modern' Anglo-American relationship.

For Obama his apparent coldness towards Britain may stem from his paternal grandfather being jailed.
already done to death on "cheese eating allies"
Ah the fabled Zambian sense of humour......if I could find your thread ex-C I would n't have posted here....perhaps you would bear with the ageing and infirm and provide something more helpful.,
Ah the fabled Zambian sense of humour......if I could find your thread ex-C I would n't have posted here....perhaps you would bear with the ageing and infirm and provide something more helpful.,
Zambia, Zambia, herrumf, I would have you know it was good old Northern Rhodesia when I was there sir!! ;-)
Sorry, as you were posting I thought you could look it up on the "last 50" search!
Out of interest were you there, Zambia or NR?
Thread here:- http://www.arrse.co.uk/naafi-bar/155850-cheese-eating-allies.html
ex-C and steven

thanks for that link - seen,chortled and returned.

Have to say sense of humour failure on my part as I didn't think to look in the Naafi bar - where the topic has received the studious attention it deserved, as evidenced by this fairlly representative remark

I don't have an Imam. I don't even know where the nearest mosque is to me. You'll all be speaking Spanish long before we're all praying to Mecca five times a day
Oxford Union eat ya heart out :)

I was teasing re Zambia, just to get your blood pressure up a notch.....not had the privelege but a long time ago worked with a very downbeat Mancunian called David Shaw who had spent a lot of time working in the Copperbelt and told me what a fab place Jinja was before the damn natives got uppitty.

I'm guessing only hardened US Arrsers venture far into the NAAFI bar - apologies for being a simp.


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