Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the new book"The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."
As a Brit living in America, I remember the Blair/Bush "special relationship" of the early 2000s with great fondness. It seemed that our two countries might remake the world. With Britain providing the vision and America the military muscle, a liberal axis would flex its way through the War on Terror. The U.K. hadn't had such a sense of purpose since the Second World War.
This week, Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in the United States with the express ambition of reviving what he and President Barack Obama now call "an essential relationship." So far the meeting has been cordial. Aside from agreeing to the need to draw down Western forces in Afghanistan, Cameron did his best to look interested in a basketball game in Ohio. He admitted afterward that he didn't have a clue what was going on and promised to explain cricket to Obama. Actually, cricket is very simple: Whoever doesn't fall asleep wins.
Nonetheless, there is an air of anxiety about the visit. While Britain is still broadly committed to the neoconservative vision of George Bush and Tony Blair, Obama is not. The tensions between the two countries have been exacerbated by a British suspicion that Obama simply doesn't like us, that his coolness betrays a mild contempt for us and our utopian visions.
Before Cameron's plane landed, his views on the special relationship were laid out in an interview he gave to the historian Niall Ferguson in Newsweek.
"The only clue that Cameron is to the manner born," Ferguson writes, "is the seemingly effortless way he shoulders the burdens of power. He must be the first prime minister in history to look younger after nearly two years in office." Although the comparisons to Winston Churchill are absurdly overblown, Ferguson is right that Cameron certainly shares some of Winnie's worldview.
"Like Tony Blair, (Cameron) is drawn to the idea of military intervention where human rights as well as national interest are at stake. It was he, not President Obama, who pressed for military intervention in Libya last year." Cameron tells his admiring interviewer that he is on his way to America to push the case for action in Syria. "'My impulse is that I want us to do more,' he says emphatically." That's probably the moment in the interview when Niall swooned.