The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the future of the special relationship between Britain and the US on the basis of the following research questions: To what extent does the special relationship exist? Will the future development of this relationship be influenced by Barack Obama in his capacity as President of the United States? The special relationship may be said to consist of six elements, each with a different level of importance. The relationship is centred on the elements of defence cooperation and the special relationship as a British foreign policy goal. Defence cooperation is characterised as special, due to the fact that each country gives the other access to such highly sensitive areas as intelligence operations and nuclear weapons programmes. The special relationship as a foreign policy goal means that Britain‟s foreign policy to a large extent is built around the goal of trying to influence America‟s foreign policy through close cooperation on defence and foreign policy issues. The foundation for the special relationship is said to be the close connection between the British and the American population based upon a shared historical and cultural background, shared values and the common language. However, due to demographic developments within the US, less and less Americans feel a connection to Britain. Shared values, as well as the language, do still facilitate communication and cooperation between the two countries. Britain and America are also connected by trade and investment, but it is by virtue of the outcome of the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 that this element is considered special. Winston Churchill introduced the term during the Second World War, and his definition still forms part of the debate about the special relationship. The nature of the special relationship is often being portrayed through the personal relationship between the Prime Minister and the President. Barack Obama‟s influence on the future development of the elements of the special relationship is limited. The special relationship as a foreign policy goal and the use of the personal relationship to show the nature of the special relationship are both British traditions, and as such it is not up to Obama to change them. However, Obama might give British politicians less of an opportunity to reach their goal of influencing US foreign policy, as he may prefer to work with other countries to solve global problems. Obama will not be able to change, how British and American people are connected to each other by virtue of values and a common language, nor how they are drifting apart due to the demographic developments taking place in the US. However, Obama‟s own lack of connection to Britain, as well as his multicultural upbringing, is believed to influence his search for multilateral solutions as opposed to transatlantic solutions. Obama‟s lack of connection to Britain is also believed to influence the exchange of information as part of the defence cooperation, as Obama may not see a reason for providing the British with more information than they are entitled to. Otherwise, cooperation within this area seems unlikely to change – the Obama administration has expressed satisfaction with the intelligence cooperation, and even though Obama is committed to nuclear disarmament, this is a long-term process and is therefore unlikely to affect UK-US nuclear cooperation within the near future. Obama is unlikely to challenge the area of trade and investment, however, the financial crisis has tempted the US to pursue protectionism in order to secure American jobs. The special relationship is centred on defence cooperation and the pursuit by British politicians of the relationship as a foreign policy goal. Barack Obama seems unlikely to influence the development of the elements of the special relationship, but his personal background may result in him not prioritising Anglo-American cooperation.
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