HUGO GROTIUS (Huig de Groot), a modern természetjogi felfogás és a modern politikai irodalom egyik megteremtője, aki a természet-jogon alapuló nemzetközi jog alapjait fektette le.
UNGER ANNA ESZTER
The relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States has long been a source of anxiety. Both US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron seem to be less enthusiastic about the so-called Special Relationship between their countries than what we have seen from their predecessors. It is a concept in which most British politicians passionately believe in even if the two countries interpret the term differently.
Both the UK and the US enjoy the benefits of close relations on many levels, but it would be more appropriate to call the relationship, what the UK considers ‘special’, ‘unique’ instead. Britons have been living in the illusion that their partnership with the US is closer, stronger and, most of all, more important than the ones the US has with other nations. The United States on the other hand not only uses the term Special Relationship for its relations with many other countries but also has the aim to maintain and strengthen these other partnerships. Britain has been scrutinising every move and word of the US in the hope that the States will confirm Britain’s wish to stay America’s most ‘favourite’. David Cameron is the first Prime Minister who actually tries to break away from the idealistic concept of the Special Relationship and free the country from this strong emotional dependence that has been characterising British foreign policy over the past 60 years. The Coalition Government has a completely new approach towards the UK’s relations with the United States. It tries to emphasize how their cooperation is no longer based on sentimental theories and personal sympathy but strictly on the UK’s national interests. Cameron has realised that just like the US has done so already, the UK should open up and look for other partners in the world as these relationships could be just as beneficial as the one with the US. The Coalition has come to admit that Britain is the ‘junior partner’ in the relationship and that the potential to influence Washington has become less significant.
This sudden change in attitudes on both sides raised the following questions in me:
Is there a Special Relationship between the two countries at all? If there is, what is its cornerstone that keeps it alive? How does the new world order of the 21st century affect the cooperation? On what levels, in which areas of policies can the relationship be called ‘special’, if can be called so at all? What are the attitudes of the Coalition Government and the Obama Administration towards the challenges and key issues the international system faces today? Does the partnership still serve the best interests of both countries?
In order to be able to answer these questions I have gathered information from several official documents, press releases, speeches and online publications.
First of all, it is important to stress that I have approached this topic under the assumption that a Special Relationship does exist although has gone through major changes in its nature. However there is a chance that my findings will make me come to realise that the relationship is becoming less and less ‘special’ if it still exists at all.
In the first two chapters I introduce the short history of British-American relations which I think is important to better understand how the nature of the relationship has been shifting over time. I give a more detailed summary of how the end of the Cold War led to a change in world order therefore to a significant change in international relations and politics which had a major effect on the bilateral cooperation. In the second chapter there is an emphasis on how Tony Blair’s, Gordon Brown’s and George Bush’s concept of the Special Relationship changed and also on the political approaches they had. I am not going into details about any of the politicians mentioned above, and my aim is only to show the shape of the future orientation of the partnership. In these two chapters my main sources were Crowson’s book on Britain and Europe (Crowson, 2011), Blair’s War by Kampfner (Kampfner, 2004) and Riddel: The Blair Effect (Riddel, 2001) which were very useful to get a basic knowledge about the relationship during the end of the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century.
In chapter 3, I demonstrate the attitudes of both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats towards foreign policy, global security and Europe. This is essential if one is to understand the difficulties, as a result of their theoretical differences, both parties had to face when negotiating after the General Elections in May 2010. The Conservative Party Manifesto (TCM, 2010) as well as the Liberal Democrat Manifesto (LDM, 2010) were the main sources of my findings, as these are the official declarations of the Parties.
Also in chapter 3, I give an overview of the Coalition’s programme, its aims and goals. I come up with several examples where compromises had to be made by either, or both of the Parties. The Coalition Agreement (The Coalition, 2010) was the key basis of my research as it is the official programme of the current British government. Also, when demonstrating how the junior coalition partner was able to have a major influence on its senior partner, I found Power and Influence in Foreign Policy Decision Making by Kaarbo (Kaarbo, 2001) very useful. The third chapter is very important in order to understand the Cameron-Clegg side of the triangle.
Chapter 4 describes the new strategic approach of Barack Obama and the current US Administration. This chapter is to introduce the other side of the triangle. Dr. Niblett’s work, Ready to Lead? Rethinking America’s Role in a Changed World (Niblett, 2009) proved to be a fundamental reading to improve my knowledge on the topic.
I would like to emphasize the importance of the Report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on Global Security: UK-US Relations (HCFAC, 2010) as it is one of the bases of the structure that is carried out in chapter 5, where I present the most recent disagreements between the two countries, the key areas of cooperation and also the challenges and threats they face together which, therefore, have the potential to strengthen their relationship. It is also in this chapter, where I question the specialness of the relationship. I give examples pro and contra and I also put a great emphasis on how British politicians should reconsider their alliances in order to best serve national interests. If one is to get a clear picture of the current status of the relationship, this chapter is indispensable. To be able to give a complete insight to the topic, I used The National Security Strategy of the UK (NSS, 2010) as well as the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR, 2010) as my key sources.
In the final chapter I try to predict the future of the relationship based on several speeches and remarks, interviews and transcripts of press conferences. However, Between Faith and Reason: UK Policy towards the US and the EU by Menon, (Menon, 2010) served as one of the most essential literatures for this chapter.
Attitudes and cooperation regarding the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa are not discussed in this paper, as these were not yet unfolded during my research period.