British and European politicians have been guilty of over-optimism about the extent of influence they have over the US. We must be realistic and accept that globalisation, structural changes and shifts in geopolitical power will inevitably affect the UK-US relationship.
Basically, the "special relationship" does not really work out as well for both of the sides, especially in light of Obama's approach towards the UK, which the report describes as "more pragmatic". The bottom line is, "The use of the phrase 'the special relationship' in its historical sense, to describe the totality of the ever-evolving UK-US relationship, is potentially misleading, and we recommend that its use should be avoided."
(Cartoon from The English Blog)
Hence the core issue: the over-use of the "label" by politicians and the media, while it does not truly reflect the reality (at least, not from the UK's point of view). It would just be interesting to find out which of the following factors featured most prominently in the Committee's deliberations: the attempt to"save face" by the Labor Party at home before the upcoming elections, given the ever-increasing negative public sentiment against the British involvement in Afghanistan, and especially in Iraq; a call to Mr. Obama to start looking for pets on the other side of the Atlantic; or, a public diplomacy measure, to improve UK's increasingly deteriorating image abroad due to the much-publicized Iraq Inquiry? (And here goes Tony Blair's much acclaimed participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program, and its significance in his "special 'special relationship'" with the US: down the drain... But then, the British still went into Iraq, so would it be what ultimately matters?)
Whatever the case, it reminds me of a Soviet joke about the "special relationship" that existed between the USSR and Bulgaria:
The Russian and the Bulgarian find a 25*-ruble bill, while walking in the street. The Russian, all excited, suggests, "Let's share it as brothers would!" The Bulgarian replies, "No, thanks. I'd rather share it equally."
See another priceless cartoon here.
The term "special relationship" was coined by Winston Churchill in his Iron Curtain speech in 1946 to describe the "fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples" against the common "enemy."
* [Update/Correction] I was kindly reminded that there were no 20-ruble bills in the Soviet Union. I guess I should be happy I don't really remember that time...