HOC

The Special Relationship Revisited

The Special Relationship – most of us who live in the United Kingdom are quite familiar with this phrase and identify with it to characterise the bond we share with the United States.

As an American who has lived in London for three years, there is a certain attachment to, and appreciation of, this relationship.

We share the same language and similar cultures. Our political values have been woven from the same threads and throughout our shared histories, we have turned towards each other in times of need.

This was very much the message during Barack and Michelle Obama’s two day visit to the UK. The visit focused heavily on the working relationship between President Obama and David Cameron and the two appeared to be getting on well.

They ditched the jackets and rolled up their sleeves while playing table tennis with school kids, and yesterday manned the grill at a barbeque for families of military personnel.

Despite the planned photo-ops and sceptical press, President Obama and Mr Cameron seemed at ease to demonstrate that the UK/US alliance still has a meaningful role to play in a world where the Middle East and China increasingly dictate the key issues of the day.

Mr Obama became the first American president to ever address Parliament in Westminster Hall, an honour he seemed to relish. It was an appropriate setting with over 900 years of history to make the case for the relationship to be just as long lasting.

However the true test will be if this outward show of solidarity and closeness can be matched by meaningful engagement on key global political issues.

As Mr Obama said in his speech, “we must act — and lead — with confidence in our ideals, and abide in the character of our people” to forge ahead.

The Special Relationship will always exist because of our close familiarity with each other, not in spite of it.

As the dust settles from this week it is important to not only reemphasise this historic bond between our two countries, but also realise how vital and integral it is to our future.

Peter Kelley is a Researcher on the International Affairs team at Portland. He previously worked in the United States Senate and on Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign.

Written By

Peter Kelley