BARACK OBAMA was the first Head of State to call David Cameron, suggesting that the relationship between the UK and the USA might be on the mend after Obama’s previous rebuffs towards Gordon Brown.
However it is unlikely that any future relationship between Obama and Cameron will be anything like the relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair.
Both Obama and Cameron are preoccupied by domestic issues, particularly their respective economies. International relations and state building will inevitably be placed on the back burner.
Despite historical and cultural links between the UK and the US, it was not until World War II and the premiership of Winston Churchill that the special relationship really came to the fore.
But what is the ‘special relationship’? The ‘special relationship’ refers to co-operation on a vast spectrum of issues including economics and foreign policy.
The recent war Iraq and the financial bailouts are prime examples of such co-operations. The UK is frequently portrayed as the ‘junior partner’ by the media. In 2008, however, after the collapse of the investment bank Lehman brothers, America dramatically altered its economic policy because of the measures taken by Alistair Darling choosing to buy shares in banks.
Throughout the 20th Century this relationship has dominated British foreign policy with successive Prime Ministers attending cosy summits at Camp David.
World War II was arguably a defining moment in the relationship between the UK and the USA with particular criticism being levelled at the Americans.
It can be suggested that initially the Americans were reluctant to enter into the war, preferring instead to supply arms to the UK. The USA did not enter the war until after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan in 1941.
In 2006 the UK finally finished paying off its loans to America from WWII. The economist John Maynard Keynes went to America in 1945 hoping for a gift from America which could be used to pay for post war reconstruction, but instead he returned with a loan.
The USA has been heavily criticised for this by historians, however should the UK expect financial gifts from the US? Perhaps not as throughout the war most of the equipment received by the UK from the US was free or heavily discounted.
Relations between Obama and Cameron are likely to differ vastly from those which have gone previously. Many people will be hoping that Cameron stands up to Obama, however those hoping for a moment like the one depicted in ‘Love Actually’ will be disappointed.
Despite our heritage as an extremely powerful nation, the UK is arguably punching above its weight in terms of its standing on the world stage.
The UK is a permanent member of the United Nations security council, one of only five countries to have such a position. Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe, is also not a permanent member of the security council.
The UK is widely respected on the international stage. However, it is important to recognise that our current position is due to our history rather than our present. Obama has prioritised relationships with China and Russia and as a consequence the relationship between Britain and America may be viewed with less importance.