Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 135–153 | Cite as

Size and reputation — why the USA has valued its ‘special relationships’ with Denmark and the UK differently since 9/11

  • Peter Viggo Jakobsen
  • Jens RingsmoseEmail author


Denmark appears far more successful in managing its ‘special’ relationship with the USA than the UK since 9/11. By doing exactly the same as the UK, but on a much smaller scale and at much lower cost in terms of blood, treasure and domestic controversy, Denmark has succeeded in generating more American public gratitude than the UK. While London has been accused of losing Basra and Musa Qaleh, Copenhagen has been showered with praise and top-posts in NATO. This article explains why demonstrating how the differences in size and reputation gave rise to different expectations of the special relationship both in Washington and at home. Britain disappointed Washington by failing to make a difference in stabilising Afghanistan and Iraq, whereas Denmark by merely engaging in combat and taking casualties far exceeded Washington’s expectations. Likewise, the failure to significantly influence decision-making in Washington was a source of great frustration in London but a non-issue in Copenhagen, which never expected it in the first place.


UK Denmark special relationship Afghanistan Iraq 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of StrategyThe Royal Danish Defence AcademyCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Center for War StudiesUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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