Gordon Brown White House Visit - Fear End of Special Relationship
March 1, 2009 • 2:40PM

According to today's London Daily Telegraph, the British elites are panicked over the prospect that the Anglo-American "special relationship" is over, and that the scheduled White House visit this week by Prime Minister Gordon Brown is going to be the public demonstration of that "change."

"A quiet fear is calcifying," the Telegraph's man in Washington, Tim Shipman (author of the recent MI5 leak about CIA spying on British soil), wrote on Saturday, Feb. 28. "Hints from the White House machine suggest that the Age of Obama means a dramatic makeover not just for America, but for that old symbol of Anglo-American fealty, the Special Relationship."

Prime Minister Brown, who has had trouble getting the U.S. President on the phone since the inauguration, arrives in Washington Monday night. He will briefly meet the President Tuesday morning, before a luncheon. But there is no lavish state dinner, and nobody missed the significance of the fact that President Obama's first foreign White House guest is Japan's Prime Minister. Furthermore, close advisors to the President told the Telegraph that Obama is closely following the British polls, which suggest that Brown will be out of office before the end of the year. "Obama can read the polls the same as everyone else. He wants partners for the next four years and Brown may not be one of those," one advisor to both Democratic and Labour Party candidates explained.

The deeper worries in London, however, deal with more grandiose matters, including the President's demonstrable desire to get the bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office, despite British government offers to keep it on site. "The conventional wisdom," Shipman concluded, "which Mr. Obama has done little to dispel, is that he is less Anglophile than his predecessors. He hailed the resilience of American's founding fathers against the British 'enemy' in his inauguration speech and devoted 35 pages of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, to his grandfather's torture under British colonial rule during Kenya's Mau Mau rebellion."

Dr. Nile Gardiner, a Tory transplant at the Heritage Foundation who was formerly an advisor to Maggie Thatcher, fumed at the President, telling Shipman, "President Obama has never acknowledged the sacrifice of British soldiers alongside their U.S. allies in a major policy speech. The new administration seems to care little for what the British have contributed in Afghanistan or Iraq in the past; what matters now is simply how many more troops Brown is willing to pledge to the surge in Afghanistan. It's a very hard-nosed, short-term approach rather than one rooted in a sense of enduring alliance. My sense is that the special relationship is being significantly downgraded."