Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 182–199 | Cite as

‘Global Security: US-UK relations’: lessons for the special relationship?

  • Steve MarshEmail author


In March 2010 the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) recommended that the appellation ‘special relationship’ no longer be used to describe Anglo-American relations. This article examines and extrapolates upon the report as a means of gaining insights into the contemporary special relationship. It argues that the period 2008–2010 was unusual in Anglo- American relations insofar as governments on both sides of the Atlantic signalled a cooling of the special relationship. However, it is argued that this shift was in high-level ‘mood music’ as political distance was sought from the Bush-Blair years rather than in the substance of Anglo-American relations or in British commitment to the special relationship. Of perhaps more long-term significance is the apparent mismatch between the ‘power and interest’ and the ‘sentimental myth’ dimensions of the special relationship. The FAC Report hinted at this in terms of expectation management of what the contemporary Anglo-American relationship could deliver to Britain. However, the gap between these two dimensions of the special relationship is potentially highly significant and though British governments clearly recognise this they remain unwilling to develop a newly modulated communicative discourse designed to better align them. Potential political vulnerability, it seems, is preferred to challenging a sentimental myth of Anglo-American relations that has over time become culturally embedded.


special relationship Britain US 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of European Languages, Translation and PoliticsCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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