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Special Relationship between Britain & the United States of America since World War II - Essay Example

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It was a fortnight after the attack on Pearl Harbour when Winston Churchill arrived in the United States for a three week visit. For a substantial part of this visit Churchill resided in the Whitehouse itself where he had informal discussions with President Roosevelt…
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Special Relationship between Britain & the United States of America since World War II

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Although Sir Winston Churchill denied every saying that but it captures the essence of the "Anglo American special relationship". The term itself was first used by Winston Churchill during his Iron Curtain speed in March 1946 to describe the warm historical, political, diplomatic, and cultural relations between Britain and the United States. However behind this simple term, the relationship between the two countries is considered to be much more complex going through what some may refer to as a rollercoaster ride; from Churchill and Roosevelt to Blair and Bush, from the Cold War alliance to the war on terror, and from the Beatles and Elvis to James Bond and Ronald McDonald. Therefore it is no surprise that the United States and Britain share the world's largest foreign direct investment partnership. American investment in Britain reached $255.4 billion in 2002, while British direct investment in the U.S. added up to a whopping $283.3 billion.
This paper explores how and why the two countries worked so closely together in the early 1940s with emphasis on the two iconic personalities of Churchill and Roosevelt, the ups and downs of their political alliance, the seventies during which the relationship apparently swayed apart. The paper also discusses the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in which they championed a new conservative revolution both at home and abroad, and finally the special relationship in the last fifteen years, especially the relationship between Blair and Bush after the September 11 attack and the Iraq war.

Since Churchill coined the term "special relationship" it has been used as shorthand for the complex network of links between the United States and Britain. This relationship can be split into three levels which include personal ties between leaders, elite cooperation and mass sentiment. The first one of these is the most common which according to most historians paralleled the personal one that existed between Roosevelt and Churchill. Similarly it was the closeness between Reagan and Thatcher that helped maintain the special relationship between the US and Britain. Even Bush and Blair are said to have close personal ties.

The importance of the relationship for the two countries and for international relations is visible when one glances at the world economic order, European security, cold war diplomacy and global containment that this special relationship helped contribute to from the Second World War till the early sixties. Throughout the sixties this special relationship ranged across trade, migration, investment, communication flows, and military linkage just to name a few. Although the relationship was not without its frictions but it was nevertheless important not just to both governments but to the shaping of the post war world.

A decade later William Wallace in a study of British foreign policy gave examples of the relationship as "wartime joint American/British boards, informal meetings between political leaders of the two countries, close consultation by diplomatic personnel, military and intelligence service cooperation and other instances of intergovernmental cooperation" (Wallace 1975)

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