David Cameron’s visit to the United States for talks with President Obama has once again highlighted the so-called ‘special’ relationship between Britain and the United States. There are those who doubt that there is a special relationship at all and in these talks it was re-christened a ‘special’ relationship. It had a particular character during the Cold War when Britain was an important base for the United States, sometimes referred to as a static aircraft carrier.
However, anyone who doubts that the relationship is an enduring one in the context of the fight against terrorism should look at the recent book on electronic eavesdropping by GCHQ written by my colleague Richard Aldrich and obtain favourable reviews in the quality press. The intelligence partnership has always been central to the relationship and in that sense it is special.
On this visit David Cameron has been under pressure on the subject of BP, both on the oil spill in the Gulf and unproven allegations that the release of the Lockerbie bomber was in some way linked with an oil deal with Libya. The fact that Cameron opposed the prisoner release in opposition helped him to navigate this tricky issue. However, one of his central objectives on this visit was to attract US investment to boost the UK economy which is why he went to New York and was seen eating a hot dog with the mayor.