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Bush & Blair Killed The Special Relationship

Posted by on March 28th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Renowened British national security reporter Michael Smith – he off "Downing Street Memos" fame – notes in the London Times today that a report by the Commons foreign affairs committee says that using the term "special relationship" to describe Britain's relations with the U.S. “is potentially misleading and we recommend that its use should be avoided”.

Ed Driscoll at PJM comes over all dishonest and tries to blame Obama, but the Smith article makes the blameworthy individuals clear.

 the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America’s “subservient poodle” has been highly damaging to Britain’s reputation and interests around the world. The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be “willing to say no” to America.

…“Over the longer term, the UK is unlikely to be able to influence the US to the extent it has in the past,” the committee adds.

In an apparent rebuke to Tony Blair and his relationship with President George W Bush, the report says there are “many lessons” to be learnt from Britain’s political approach towards the US over Iraq.

“The perception that the British government was a subservient poodle to the US administration is widespread both among the British public and overseas,” the MPs say. “This perception, whatever its relation to reality, is deeply damaging to the reputation and interests of the UK.”

While the relationship between the American president and the British prime minister was an important part of dealings between the two countries, the cabinet and parliament also had a role to play. “The UK needs to be less deferential and more willing to say no to the US on those issues where the two countries’ interests and values diverge,” the MPs say.

None of this is exactly news to anyone who watches British politics with even cursory attention to the zeitgeist – which apparently Driscoll doesn't – but it's interesting that a bipartisan committee is willing to say it so very plainly. Both Gordon Brown – who has come in for criticism of his own for too eagerly taking over the part of Blair as Obama has taken over Bush's wars – and David Cameron will have to pay some heed as they seek the electorate's votes on May 6th.

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