Like the rest of Europe, the United Kingdom watched in awe as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. As President, it is presumed that through his magnetism, Obama will repair the so-called ‘Special Relationship’ - a term that often met with grunts or a sarcastic roll of the eyes throughout the UK.
After eight years of George W. Bush, the percentage of people in Britain that believe that the United States is “a force for good” has plummeted from 83% to a feeble 33%. With the wars in Iraq and the bloody toll inflicted on British forces in Afghanistan, future co-operation with the United States looked to be a hazardous risk for any Prime Minister. Then came the man.
Politics aside, there are more tangible issues that the two countries must face in the upcoming years. Despite his opposition to the war in Iraq, Obama is all too aware that Western involvement in Afghanistan is long term and will require America’s European allies to do much more. As Obama noted in his speech in Berlin:
“Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.”
With political capital back in the bank, Britain will still be a reliable political ally of the United States. However, with a military infrastructure which has been severely corroded by conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; the United Kingdom may no longer be able to project their image as a reliable military ally.