A not so special relationship

Obama and Cameron keeping up the facade of the ‘special relationship’. Photo: Prime Minister's Office

Obama and Cameron keeping up the facade of the ‘special relationship’. Photo: Prime Minister's Office

Last week, British television viewers were subjected to a nausea-inducing experience.

This pandemic reaction was not the result of the shocking news that Cheryl Cole was unfit to judge a Las Vegas-based X-Factor; nor was it prompted by the U.S. Senate’s decision to renew the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act. This eruption of spew arose from images of Barack Obama and David Cameron high-fiving over a game of table tennis (and was not wholly due to the latter’s poor performance).

As we laid down our remotes, we realised that world politics had sunk to depths far beyond those of Mars’ Valles Marineris. Were we to be fooled that David Cameron was in fact hip, and ‘down with the homies’?

As the American Midwest suffered another calamitous tornado disaster and Benjamin Netanyahu stood amidst uproarious applause from US congresspersons praising his obstinacy, were we to accept that Obama thought knocking a small plastic orb around a room was the most worthy use of his time? Those are trick questions. Inquiry is for the sceptics. Doubt is unpatriotic.

When Obama and Cameron slapped wrists together and awkwardly embraced, they looked like geeky teens trying to mimic what they had once viewed in a gangster film. Cameron’s sycophantic ingratiating and his informal expressions (‘I completely agree with Barack’) did little to veil the reality that he and Obama are actually on opposite ends of the pitch.

While President Obama is pursuing policies that attempt to release private companies’ stranglehold on America’s health care system, David Cameron is instituting the largest countrywide cuts in decades. He is refurbishing Downing Street for £680m while slashing police budgets. The police offer Conservatives with that wholesome, secure image of a safeguarded Britain. Every anarchist seeks to combat the fascist strong-arm of state police. Why lower your defences, David?

Their playfulness was about as convincing as two playground bullies

When asked if he felt Cameron’s cuts were too far-reaching, Obama diplomatically replied that there is a difference between the ‘sequencing of pace’ in the two countries. Presumably, this frees Cameron to pursue further cuts.

Cameron’s approach toward foreign policy is no more revolutionary than that of his predecessors. Despite all of Cameron’s grandstanding regarding Britain’s military and the independence of its pursuits, he is once again strapping the UK into a gimp suit and allowing America to take hold of the leash.

When Cameron and Obama engaged in a bout of ping-pong, it was difficult to discern the kind chemistry one would expect to find between bosom buddies. Blair and Bush managed that kind of Laurel and Hardy charisma, but what of Cam-bama? Their playfulness was about as convincing as two playground bullies desperately trying to maintain conciliatory expressions while awaiting punishment from the head teacher.

If our countries truly enjoy a special relationship – nay, an ‘essential’ relationship – why is it so damn difficult to get a work permit in the United States (and vice versa)? It would be easier for a UK citizen to find work as a street vendor in a rustic, post-soviet Bulgarian village than qualify for a green card. Is this how friends treat each other?

Dispense with the pleasantries, gentlemen.