US-UK Relations Under Cameron and Clegg

David Cameron and Nick CleggAfter more than a year of British hand-wringing over the status of the Special Relationship under President Obama, the shoe is now on the other foot, with some Americans wondering whether the new occupants of No. 10 Downing Street will be quite as Atlanticist.

In my New Atlanticist writeup, “Cameron, Clegg, and the Special Relationship,” I contend that we’re unlikely to see much change.

First, I dismiss most of the business about a “solid but not slavish” friendship and “the default Atlanticism” as “mostly a rhetorical sop to public opinion in wake of the widespread — if in my judgment grossly unfair —belief that Tony Blair was ‘America’s poodle’ in the Iraq War.”

Second, and more fundamentally, mature Western democracies tend to show remarkable stability in their foreign policies.

Writing on November 7, 2008 about the incoming Obama administration, I approvingly quoted Paul Heutching‘s remark that, “Obama is an American politician, and he will govern like an American president.”  Well, David Cameron is a British politician, and he will govern like a British prime minister.

He will, as is his duty, make sober assessments about the best interests of his nation and make his policy decisions accordingly.  And — as with Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, and a host of others before him — he’ll more often than not find that the UK’s interests and those of the USA will overlap.   On those rare instances where they don’t, however, he’ll steer his own course.

More at the link.

Photo credit: Reuters.

FILED UNDER: Europe, World Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    mature Western democracies tend to show remarkable stability in their foreign policies

    I was watching Keith Olberman the other night and he was talking about the new Brit government with a BBC analyst. He asked if there would be any significant changes, etc. The analyst said that he’d attended a (I think) US embassy party recently in London, and the thing that struck him immediately was the number of US and Brit military people there (the “number of uniforms” is how he put it). He went on to say that the military and intelligence bonds between the two countries is so profound that he couldn’t imagine any elected British (or American) government changing the relationship. (BTW, have you seen the movie, In the Loop? Hilarious and satirically on point I think.)

  2. kb says:

    “if in my judgment grossly unfair”

    But in the judgment of the UK electorate a extremely accurate description of Blair and his relationship with Bush.

    Which is one of the main reasons Blair bailed.

    After all once not only does your party but basically the entire population of your country think you’re main foreign policy aim is to slavishly support a foreign country so you can earn more money on the lecture circuit then quite frankly it’s game over.

    I understand Blair has been doing a lot of lectures in the US.

    He’s been doing very few in the UK.