Letter: Not so special after all

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From Mr Timothy W. Sewell

Sir: President Clinton's White House invitation to Gerry Adams has considerable significance way beyond the confines of the Irish question. It neatly demonstrates the nature of the "special relationship" so beloved of successive British governments.

Consider, on the one hand, the US Government's craven fear of offending the sensibilities of the Japanese by celebrating their defeat 50 years ago. Sensibilities, let it be noted, of a nation which has never properly acknowledged, let alone expressed contrition, for its atrocious war crimes. In contrast, the perfectly proper and rational objections of the British Government to the delicate peace process in Northern Ireland being upset by Adams's posturing were of no account when compared with perceived electoral advantage to the President.

The "special relationship" from an American perspective is an assurance that, come what may, Britain will play the poodle however many kicks may be administered. From the British side, this relationship is no more than an escape from reality. It is the belief that, in an unfriendly world, the Americans can be relied on to ensure that there will always be an England.

The future of the UK is among equals in Europe. Fifty years after the end of the war, it is time to let go of Uncle Sam's coat tails.

Yours faithfully,



London, EC4