Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Very Special Relationship, Very Special Relationships

William Hague promises "not slavish" adherence to special relationship with US

When British Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg combined to form the British government, many were concerned that it would pose new challenges to the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States.

Speaking at the US State Department, Foreign Secretary William Hague says he'll have none of that. While Britain will maintain an independent foreign policy, it will cooperate with the US where it sees fit.

"We're not going to seek differences for the sake of it, but it is an important part of the US-UK relationship that we should be free to say where we differ when the occasion demands it," Hague announced. "I've done that in the past and will do that in the future."

As it pertains to the United States' foreign policy, Hague has indicated that he will most likely support it.

"It's good for our relationship and for world affairs that the United Kingdom is in support so far of the major foreign policy initiatives of the Obama administration, not in any slavish way, but we are in support of them," Hague continued.

What Hague has yet to confront is the challenges of differing from the United States from foreign policy while so closely collaborating with them through organizations such as NATO.

Canada, who shares a closer-yet special relationship with the United States than Britain, can directly attest to these challenges, as we at least partially rely on the United States for our national security, through arrangements such as NORAD.

Britain and Canada alike could stand to enjoy global associations complementary to their association with the United States. This is all the more reason for the two countries to start working with Australia and New Zealand to develop the Commonwealth into a more robust global alliance -- one that could confront challenges in places like India, Pakistan and the Sudan that the United States currently cannot.

For Canada, such a leadership role could be complemented by joining with France in continuing to take a stronger leadership role within La Francophonie and accomplishing a similar task with that organization.

It's a bold, world-changing initiative of the kind Britain, France and Canada should be known for. What remains is to find the political will to make it happen.

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