“WE HAVE NO ETERNAL ALLIES, AND WE HAVE NO PERPETUAL ENEMIES. OUR INTERESTS ARE ETERNAL AND PERPETUAL, AND THOSE INTERESTS IT IS OUR DUTY TO FOLLOW."
- LORD PALMERSTON, 19th century Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.
What has become of the much-vaunted Anglo-American “Special Relationship”? This largely mythical beast, which has been an axiom of British, if not American, foreign policy ever since the Second World War partnership forged between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, still mesmerises British policymakers.
Yet it is obvious to practically everyone else that the “Special Relationship”, if it still functions meaningfully at all, is a much more one-sided affair than its British propagandists like to think. In fact, it always has been, even in the heady wartime days of the Churchill-Roosevelt love-in. As is clear from Churchill’s war memoirs, he was unable to prevail over the Americans on many aspects of operational strategy in the conduct of military operations in Europe, and even less successful in preventing Roosevelt – already a dying man – from being bamboozled by Stalin at Yalta into agreeing on a post-war division of Europe into ‘spheres of influence’ which resulted in the Iron Curtain and the subsequent years of Cold War. The extent to which Churchill himself modified the original drafts of his memoirs to avoid annoying the Americans, and to keep his
As Secretary of State Dean Acheson remarked after the war, “
Prime Minister Blair and President Bush are both fond of proclaiming themselves disciples of Churchill, though one doubts whether he would have relished the compliment. The spectacle of “Yo-Yo Blair” trotting fawningly along behind the most right-wing
"There never really has been a special relationship, or at least not one we've noticed.
"As a State Department employee, now I will say something even worse: it has been from the very beginning very one-sided.
"The State Department and the American Embassy in
"The last prime minister to resist American pressure was Neville Chamberlain who was a much more brilliant figure in British diplomacy [than Winston Churchill].
"We typically ignore them and take no notice. We say, ‘There are the Brits coming to tell us how to run our empire. Let's park them'. It is a sad business and I don't think it does them justice.
"It's hard for me to believe that any British leader who follows Tony Blair will maintain the kind of relationship he has. There'll be much more of a distant relationship and certainly no more wars of choice in the future.
"Harold Wilson was a great deal more clever in my opinion than Tony Blair. He managed to fool us all on
"The deal was not one cent, not one Bobby, not one Johnny, nobody, not one participant in the Vietnam war.
"One of the most brilliant prime ministerships of modern times was brought a cropper by the
"The key fact was the British perception of the special relationship that when the Americans decide a major issue of national importance the British will not oppose. The way that
"Tony Blair's a modern
"Unfortunately, Tony Blair's background was as an actor and not an historian. If only he'd read a book on the 1920s he might have hesitated.
"I think it was probably a done deal from the beginning. It was a one-sided relationship and that one-sided relationship was entered into I think with open eyes. Tony Blair perhaps hoped that he could bring George Bush along, that he could convince him but of course George Bush has many other dimensions politically and intellectually. I can't think of anything [Blair] got on the asset side of the ledger.
"The more serious issue that confronts
"Tony Blair could sound European on a good day, could occasionally pronounce French well and he wears blue jeans with the best Americans. I just think the role of
"What I fear is, and what I think is, that the British will draw back from the