The image that pops into my head when I think of "the special relationship" between the US and Britain is of Tony Blair and George Bush wearing tight jeans and windcheaters, walking towards the camera on George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The smirk on Tony Blair's face projects an image of "Look at me, aren't I great; I am next to the most powerful person on the planet, and we have just decided to pulverise Iraq".
The British corporate media is obsessed with the "special relationship" and the "personal chemistry" between British prime ministers and American presidents. When the two meet, the body language and every gesture are nauseatingly analysed, seeking reassurance that Britain is still America's best friend. This clinginess is unhealthy; it leads to unquestioning acquiescence and deference to the senior partner, the US. Special relationships should mean being honest and frank, and saying things your special friend may not want to hear. At least that is what I think it should be.
According to Wikipedia the phrase "special relationship" was first used in 1946 by Winston Churchill to describe the close political, diplomatic, cultural and historical relationship between the US and Britain. Tony Blair's interpretation of it is that of grovelling sycophancy towards George Bush culminating in the disaster that was the Iraq war. Whatever Blair's thinking was about the war, he felt that because of the "special relationship" Britain must act as its cheerleader. This was also the view of most of the British cabinet.
Contrast that with the attitude of France and Germany, who opposed the Iraq war on logical thoughtful calculations - that the war was unnecessary, illegal and not in the west's interests.
That illegal war has caused death, injury and suffering to thousands of British and American people, and inflicted enormous suffering on the entire Iraqi people with death and injury to hundreds of thousands if not millions. It has also caused enormous damage to the reputation of the US and Britain, weakened the rule of international law, and the authority of international institutions. It has also invigorated international terrorism.
Without the so called "special relationship" as interpreted by Tony Blair, Britain may have stood with France and Germany in opposition to the Iraq war, which could well have delayed its start. This would have given Hans Blix and his team of inspectors enough time to prove conclusively and publically that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, thus removing the "supposed" excuse for the war, making it difficult for the Americans to proceed.
The special relationship is also damaging the interests of the American and British people by stopping Britain becoming an effective member of the European Union, and cooperating with the rest of Europe to develop a common foreign policy.
Bagehot in the Economist describes the exasperation of European politicians with Britain thus: " EU politicians keep waiting for some humiliation to happen that wakes us( the British ) up to our true status as America's Trojan poodles in Europe: slavish in Washington (eg, over Iraq) and cocky in Brussels, and happy to help the Americans divide the EU and rule".
Of course Britain's relationship with the US has not always been so subservient. Harold Wilson, the then British prime minister, refused during his premiership (1964-1968) to join America in the Vietnam War, so snubbing President Lyndon Johnson.
Jonathan Coleman in American Studies Online writes: "Opposition to the war within the labour party and among the British general public meant that the Wilson government could not satisfy the United States' desire for support; certainly, London had to reject the frequent American requests for combat troops"
This principled stand by Harold Wilson shows his stature compared to the grovelling role played by Tony Blair in the Iraq war. Let us hope that Ed Miliband, the new leader of the labour party, will be more like Harold Wilson than Tony Blair; time will tell.
Britain needs to grow up from this infantile obsession with the special relationship, to be independent, and with Europe develop a sane foreign policy that challenges the aggressive and mad policies pushed by those on the right in the US.