An End to the U.S.-U.K. 'Special Relationship'

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#1
On the NJ experts blog An End to the U.S.-U.K. 'Special Relationship' some fragments as we enter Dave's decade of the jetless carrier:
With the release of its Strategic Defense and Security Review this week, and announcement of an 8 percent reduction in defense spending over the next four years, Britain is clearly retrenching from its role as one of the world's leading military forces able to project power around the globe. The question for expert bloggers this week: What impact will those cuts have on the U.S.-U.K. "special relationship"?
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Ron Marks:
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Washington will do what is has to do when it has to do it -- with or without the Brits. They are a girlfriend of convenience, not a wife.
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Pat Lang:

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The Britsh? Ah, well, like the Canadans they will have no forces worth considering when they get through cutting. The French do, but the US public's crazy antipathy toward France makes that irrelevent.

Gordon Adams:

The British defense cuts, preceded by announcements of French restraint and German reductions all point to an urgently needed reexamination of US strategy and military missions. They do not point to a larger defense burden for the US, but rather, to the need to take a close look at what is meant by the "burden" itself.
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Wayne White:

There is a point that goes well beyond the single case of the UK that perhaps should to be underscored as a sidebar to this discussion: at a time when the U.S. finds it so difficult to make substantial military cuts despite its most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, U.S. allies around the globe have far greater latitude to do so.
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Michael Brenner:

Britain’s value to Washington as a security partner is modest. Its political value has been greater. The latter should be the main focus in assessing the transformation launched by the Cameron-Clegg government.

On the military level it was some help to have a British armored division flanking the main American thrust in Kuwait in 1991. It was helpful to have the British deployed in Bosnia as ‘peacekeepers’, along with several other European countries, while the United States took four years to figure out what if anything it was worth doing in regard to the wars of the ex-Yugoslavia. And it was helpful to have experienced British units in Iraq to supplement an undermanned American occupation force. None of these deployments were crucial, though, to what Washington did or did not do. Nor did it give the British much of a voice – for better or for worse – as to how these operations were designed and conducted.
At the diplomatic level, British engagement has been more consequential. As a dependable auxiliary who can be counted on never to stray too far from the American policy line (much less contradict it), the U.K. is nice to have around. (Bosnia was the exception – there, we crossed diplomatic swords). Its utility can be summed up in these terms.

· British leaders’ parroting the arguments coming from an American administration reinforces the message – the interpretation, threat assessment, policy advocacy. Having the same things said in a different voice adds to both the amplitude and the credibility. Tony Blair provided this service with verve on Iraq, Iran, the ‘war on terror’ generally, extraordinary rendition, Palestine and wherever else he was needed.

· As a European nation, and as an EU member, it has somewhat privileged access to the political market across the Atlantic. Britain in a sense is a relay station.

· In the eyes of the American public, having an old ally vocally agreeing with U.S. actions adds some confirmation of our nation’s wisdom and virtue – on those rare moments when such doubts creep to the surface.

Drastic cuts in the British defence budget will have only a slight effect on the U.K.’s provision of these political/diplomatic services. In regard to the latter, David Cameron made a few noises during the campaign suggesting that under his leadership Britain no longer would be America’s poodle. He even went so far as to distance himself to some extent on a few current questions, e.g. negotiating with the Taliban without conditions. We have heard none of this since he took up residence at Number 10. It is unlikely to return as a theme of his coalition government’s foreign policy. They have more than enough on their plate in pursuing their experiment of implementing their version of a Tea Party assault on the idea and practice of modern government. Besides, there is little inclination to take up the burden of rethinking the big strategic questions in the Greater Middle East, Russia and China after a half century of abstinence.

That is unfortunate. American foreign policy is doing little more than thrashing about in numerous dead ends. Washington desperately needs trusted friends to speak to it candidly and to offer some fresh perspectives. An English accent could help getting across any words of wisdom as may be forthcoming.
The last I thought the most interesting position. It's probably the most realistic, folks within the beltway may be miffed that an old ally is shirking on its already slight commitments.

However if whatever poodle is kenneled in No 10 will obediently yap along with Uncle Sam's latest escapade regardless of its wisdom the impact may be slight. The leader of an ill defended island on the edge of the world's historically most violent continent may even be more compliant than Mr Tony was with its powerful protector. Though being the enabling toady in DC's strategic prattfalls may finally win No 10 more contempt than respect, more jail house bitch than "girlfriend of convenience".
 
#2
Dont think the yanks ever really held us in very high regard, just someone else to share the rest of the worlds, i.e middle eastern, anger .Now we have virtually nothing left to offer they will drop us like a hot turd.
 
#3
Dont think the yanks ever really held us in very high regard, just someone else to share the rest of the worlds, i.e middle eastern, anger .Now we have virtually nothing left to offer they will drop us like a hot turd.
Thats a tad inconvenient.
We've just had an SDSR that has declared we have to leave key capabilities to our allies. Just at the point those same allies decide to have fook all to do with us.
 
#4
Sod them, if they don't want us to help them out with anything then bring the troops back from AFG immediately. We have always been a very junior partner and told to jump when they want us to do anything for them.
 
#5
how many are left or will be left in the Army after all the cuts are applied, if its below 100,000 we are a defence force. Then the yanks will have to do without us whether they like it or not. the clue's in the name.
 
#6
A return to Splendid Isolation may be in order, at least as far as our relations with the US. Without being tied to the US we would have more influence in Europe.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Some factors that don't seem to have made it into this thread so far:

1. The incumbent President appears (to me) to be virulently anti-British

2. We shall soon not have a foreign policy anyway, it will be a European foreign policy as at Lisbon we gave that bit of independence away. Ultimately we shall only be able to commit forces to a US (or any other) adventure as part of an EU force.

3. In the Bliar years the 'Special Relationship' was just a bribe by Bliar so he could go grandstanding and get photo-ops with Bush. Personally I think toppling Saddam was necessary, but staying in Iraq when the US was making a total hash of the Peace was not, and certainly not worth the cost in blood, let alone money. As to Afghanistan I still don't know what our AIM is and I was taught that selection and maintenance of the AIM is the first principle of war.
 
#10
A return to Splendid Isolation may be in order, at least as far as our relations with the US. Without being tied to the US we would have more influence in Europe.
A Canadian coined that term about two decades before the Somme. Lord Sailsbury, like most British policy wonks at the time, thought isolationism was reckless and short sighted, the world and Europe especially is a dangerous place. I think a considerably poorer US, still mighty and safe between two shining seas, is both able and liable to return to return to its traditional isolationism than the UK.

This is the alliance that the UK's neglected defense rests upon, the brassic Septics have really rather little practical need to expensively maintain it from their side. Jetless carrier's and scrapped MBTs don't look to be the last straw. The vacillating role that comes with the deal probably sometimes does diminish London in the eyes of the rest of the world but I doubt its collapse would improve London's already low standing in Europe.
 
#11
Some factors that don't seem to have made it into this thread so far:

1. The incumbent President appears (to me) to be virulently anti-British

2. We shall soon not have a foreign policy anyway, it will be a European foreign policy as at Lisbon we gave that bit of independence away. Ultimately we shall only be able to commit forces to a US (or any other) adventure as part of an EU force.

3. In the Bliar years the 'Special Relationship' was just a bribe by Bliar so he could go grandstanding and get photo-ops with Bush. Personally I think toppling Saddam was necessary, but staying in Iraq when the US was making a total hash of the Peace was not, and certainly not worth the cost in blood, let alone money. As to Afghanistan I still don't know what our AIM is and I was taught that selection and maintenance of the AIM is the first principle of war.
Have to echo points 2 & 3 here,

It's the Politicans (UK) that milked the media in this 'Special Relationship' statement, Bliar & Brown that kept this trait up to suck up to Prat Bush, the US will always have an arrogance element irrespective who supports them & to be fair good luck to them as already stated the EU has more powers anyway....
 
#13
First up, the Yanks do indeed have a 'special relationship' which is alive and well, but it with Israel, not us.

Secondly, the relationship we do have seems to involve doing exactly what we are told, hitching us inexorably to their crass way of engaging with the rest of the World and we would be well off out of it.

Yemen seems to be the latest target to hove into view for their 'attention'.

Poor bastards.
 
#14
Anyone who seriously believes a 'special relationship' currently exists, or ever existed, is dilluding themselves. Its just a phrase spinelss British politicians have used to try to justify being the USA's bitch to the public (Who have bought it) while US politicians look on bemused.
 
#15
First up, the Yanks do indeed have a 'special relationship' which is alive and well, but it with Israel, not us.
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You could add to that "specialness" harem Riyadh, Dublin and since much the the US industrial base and deficit moved to Red China, Beijing. London in the pecking order of dogs that Uncle Sam throws bones too is below Tokyo and getting its arse nipped by Seoul.

However that's not the point, the "Special Relationship" is Churchilian delusion that the London clings to. The idea is: Uncle Sam will come rushing to Blighties defense provide its antis up a token alliance commitment now and then. Looking at the sad state of Barry's DC this is as about as wise as Warsaw putting any faith in the Entente in the 30s but this alliance remains the basis of the UK's defense.

This myth has some utility for the Treasury, it provides a false sense of security, especially in these times of negligible threats like AQ. Team Dave is continuing the post-Cold War trend towards a nation that has a very limited capacity to defend itself independently of the US let alone project power. You could call this the realism of enforced austerity or shortsighted folly. Depends if another major European dust up is round the corner. I'd bet against it but I'm sure I would have in 1910 as well.
 
#16
Its not special and we don't have an equal relationship
europe might be crap but at least we have a say
 
#17
Every cloud has a silver lining. The day you will start to think and act independently of the USA, you will make more friends and earn much more respect. The UK's reputation has long been tarnishedin the third world, rightly or wrongly, by what is perceived by its systematic support of the USA.
 
#18
Would probably do the US a favour as well support them if its a good idea tell them no if its not.
might not like it but might have put off gulf war 2.
if gw had'nt been even able to persuade the brits to go along somebody might have twigged it was probably a stupid idea.
 
#19
Would probably do the US a favour as well support them if its a good idea tell them no if its not.
might not like it but might have put off gulf war 2.
if gw had'nt been even able to persuade the brits to go along somebody might have twigged it was probably a stupid idea.
You can't help thinking that for the special relationship to be effective, UK needs a decent respected leader. Wonder if GW2 would have happened if a Maggie T had been bending Bush's ear....

My vote goes for sticking with an anglo-phone superpower with 10+ nuclear carrier battlegroups, rather than a cluster of socialist countries that are simply going to continue spending and legislating themselves into ruin...
 
#20
Seaweed said, "Personally I think toppling Saddam was necessary"

I would be interested to know why, as he was never a threat to blighty and Iraq was not on the terrorist map until the US and its poodles put it there.

As for the special relationship, my experience of working with the US troops left me thinking many of them were very special in a foam gloves and rubber hat way.
 
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