An essential relationship? Photo © Prime Minister's Office
President Barack Obama's visit to Britain has been a huge success. We like America's 44th president. We're touched by his place in history as the first black president. And we cheered his election, as I blogged at the time. So the fact Obama has stolen hearts is no surprise.
But I was dreadling the visit, in a small way, as I knew it would prompt a wave of comments about whether Britain and America shared a 'special relationship'. This is an obsession of politicians and the media. Yet no one in the bars of London, Cardiff or Edinburgh would give it a moment's thought. If they did, they'd surely point out that the UK and US have lots of relationships with lots of countries. And then get back to talking about Ryan Giggs.
It's true that Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt forged a very close relationship during our darkest days, the second world war. But the war leaders weren't in total harmony: FDR was soon tormented by WSC's wilder ideas, and Churchill was rightly frustrated and frightened by FDR's complacency about Soviet designs on eastern Europe.
And all this talk of a special relationship encourages the two countries' addiction to military adventures, as the Guardian's Simon Jenkins comments today. At a time when the BBC's World Service (not to mention all our public services) has had its spending slashed, David Cameron miraculously found £1 billion to burn on a war in Libya that has absolutely nothing to do with Britain. Yet a BBC reporter said in all seriousness that America thinks Britain should spend more on 'defence'.
Britain admires America and its president. But neither country has any reason to spin an idea of a mythical special relationship.