The special relationship between The United Kingdom and the United States is dead. Long live the special relationship.
It never was a bed of roses. There were always differences, some petty, others profound. Like an old marriage, it was never about romance. It was always business and hard cold self-interest. It is based upon language and history but mostly it is about reality and shared values.
The haters, mostly on the British side, will note all the reasons why there should not be a special relationship. On the American side is the condescension that Britain is no longer relevant. Nothing new there, but it is based on the condescension and the acrimony that the relationship will endure. Why, because there will always be a crisis that cannot be ignored, and Britain and the US simply have no one else to turn to for support. That support will not be based upon sentimentality.
Simply stated neither country will be given the luxury of not needing each other. In some future time and place the need will be obvious. The sad fact is that beyond the US and the UK, there is not a very deep bench of countries that can provide the courage and leadership to rally people of good will to the right cause and to do the right thing.
The Telegraph examines some recent causes and responses that were questionable:
How Britain came to this sorry pass
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 12/04/2007
Looking back over a decade of Blairite foreign policy is to descry a lopsided arch.
It climbed upwards first through support for the ousted president of Sierra Leone, a commitment that would result in military intervention in 2000. It rose further as Tony Blair persuaded Washington to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, and again when the American-led invasion of Afghanistan drove the Taliban from power in 2001. It reached its apogee with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, though that success carried the seeds of a decline that has left Britain wielding even less international influence today than it did under John Major.
Iraq has proved the stumbling-block for the doctrine of pre-emptive action espoused by George W. Bush and Mr Blair. In seeking to enforce it, both men were misleading about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and have been guilty of crass mismanagement of the occupation, the disbanding of the army without adequate compensatory deployment of coalition troops being the outstanding example. Preoccupation with Iraq led to neglect of Afghanistan, which has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban, a mistake for which Nato-led forces are now paying a high price.
Close association with America over Iraq has severely dented Britain's prestige in the world, and the Blair Government's popularity at home. Over the past few weeks, both have sunk to new depths thanks to incompetent patrolling by the Royal Navy in the Gulf, the readiness of the arrested sailors and Marines to do what the Iranians wanted, and the shocking decision, soon rescinded, to allow them to sell their stories. If you want to know why this country has become a laughing-stock, look no further than the reaction of the Government to this disgraceful episode.
Des Browne said yesterday that he had been asked only to "note" the Royal Navy's decision to allow the seized Servicemen to publish, but had not been entirely content with the reasons given. Lawyerly weasel-words from the Defence Secretary, and silence from the man who would be Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and not a resignation in sight.
Mr Blair expounded his "doctrine of international community" in Chicago in April 1999, during Nato's air war against Serbia. It was an emotive appeal to America to choose internationalism over isolationism and, given the horrors of ethnic cleansing, was none the worse for that. But what the Prime Minister has signally neglected in his zeal for pre-emptive action is to provide Britain with the military means to bring it to a successful conclusion. Under strength and poorly equipped, the Armed Forces have been stretched to the limit, and their prospects look no rosier under Mr Blair's successor, whoever that may be. Labour has traded on the professionalism of the men and women in uniform to grandstand on the international stage, and that cynical attitude has now caught up with it.
Blame for the sorry decline in Britain's standing rests squarely with the Prime Minister, who has run foreign affairs from Number 10. The corollary of that concentration of power has been a series of exceptionally weak ministerial appointments, from Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett at the Foreign Office to Geoff Hoon and Des Browne at Defence. Three reports published this week - by the charity Oxfam, the Oxford Research Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross - have analysed why Labour's foreign policy has proved counter-productive.
Their findings come at a time when Iranian nuclear ambitions remain unchecked, Vladimir Putin's Russia becomes ever bolshier and our troops are overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq. A re-examination of the doctrine of pre-emptive action, a substantial strengthening of the Armed Forces and the appointment of principled, competent ministers are the minimum needed if this situation is to be reversed.